Philippe Olivier, an exceptional cheesemaker

Philippe Olivier An exceptional cheesemaker

It's fair to say that Philippe Olivier comes from a family of cheese-makers: his grandfather, father, uncle, brother, nephew and son are all cheese-refiners. Meet one of France's most talented master cheesemakers.

Rue Adolphe Thiers, right in the heart of Boulogne-sur-Mer's pedestrian district, the sober, elegant front of Philippe Olivier's shop is an unmistakable eye-catcher.

A world of flavors

As soon as we enter, the aromas tickle our noses and herald a wonderful journey for our taste buds. For the eyes, it's a veritable festival of some 300 cheeses carefully organized by family and specificity, all made from raw milk, produced with respect for tradition, terroir and season, and matured with art. There's only one thing you'll want to do: taste them. Meeting Philippe Olivier means discovering a whole new world. What he loves, of course, are the products he refines with talent and patience, perpetuating the skills and secrets handed down from generation to generation. His definition of ripening: a succession of meticulous gestures that seem minute, but which, day after day, shape the inimitable taste of local cheeses, and there are many pitfalls: changing one gesture, forgetting another, varying the shape of a cheese and, in time, it loses its flavor.

Between passion and research

What also fascinates our man is the history behind these products and, above all, the people who make them.

His library: 300 books devoted to... cheese, that's how erudite our host is. We learn, for example, that the orange color of mimolette dates back to a decision by Colbert to differentiate French production from that of Holland, during the war between the two countries. Philippe Olivier's interest in this vast history has turned him into a discoverer. He rediscovers forgotten cheese recipes and works with small producers to recreate them. Such is the case of Monsieur's cheese, originally made by a certain Monsieur Fromage (hence the name), then completely forgotten before being rediscovered and made again in Ile-de-France.

Learning to love cheese

As well as being a talented affineur, Philippe Oliver is also a humanist. "300 cheeses means 200 producers, or rather 200 friends! These are producer-friends whom he meets on their farms, and with whom he maintains a genuine relationship of exchange. In fact, the human dimension is one of his credo values: tasty cheeses that give real pleasure, cheeses that respect the environment and health, cheeses that enable cheese producers to make a decent living from their work.

And when asked how to get people to love cheese, he answers: "Cheese isn't just a question of taste, it's also a question of education, a bit like wine. You have to learn to taste.

A cheese culture?

As you can see, Philippe Olivier believes in a genuine cheese culture. To "get his message across", he publishes a monthly newsletter. Les news de Philippe Olivier, in which he guides his customers in their discovery of cheese.

He also talks about his idea of happiness: a simple, quality product. He is also a member of the cercle des fromages affineurs, a group of 15 French cheesemakers who share their maturing methods, addresses, etc., as well as advice on the terroirs and wines of their regions, and above all, help each other. One of Philippe Olivier's dreams? To create cheese culture clubs like those for oenology, to perpetuate this formidable human adventure.

Tips for enjoying cheese to the full

  • Respect seasonality by choosing cheeses made with spring and autumn milk.
  • Forget shopping lists and trust your cheese refiner. He'll be able to guide you according to your tastes.
  • Avoid fresh goats in December and early March. That's when goats don't produce milk.

Practical info: Fromageries Philippe Olivier

43, rue Thiers,
62200 Boulogne-sur-Mer
3 rue du Curé-Saint-Etienne,
59000 Lille
And a dozen corners north of Paris: Amiens, Berck, Bulle-les-mines, Doudan , Etaples, Hardelot, Le Touquet ...
Tel : 03 21 31 94 74

Directed by Bienvenue chez Sophie Gourmande

Discover another article

National Cheese Day

"A country that can give the world three hundred cheeses cannot die", said Winston Churchill during the Second World War. To which Charles de Gaule retorted: "You can't govern a...

Let's make a cheese

That morning, we set sail for Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais). Not to talk cod, shrimp or smoked herring, as this northern, maritime destination might suggest. No, we came to talk about fourme d'Ambert, Ossau-Iraty,...

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.