The Hairy Bikers Go North: The cheesemakers, herb grower, caviar farmer, skyr producer, spice chef and holiday let that appeared in the West Yorkshire episode | Yorkshire Post

The Hairy Bikers Go North: The cheesemakers, herb grower, caviar farmer, skyr producer, spice chef and holiday let that appeared in the West Yorkshire episode

The fifth episode of The Hairy Bikers Go North was the third in the BBC series to focus on Yorkshire.

Viewers might have been forgiven for their confusion during the West Yorkshire episode - for presenters Si King and Dave Myers stayed in accommodation in Nidderdale and four of their six stops were actually in North Yorkshire.

All six of the food and drink producers visited by the Bikers have been featured in The Yorkshire Post before - as has their distinctive music-themed holiday let.

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Kirkgate Market

Chapel of Rock, Shaw Mills, Nidderdale

Chapel of Rock was built in 1904 as a Methodist chapel for the small hamlet of Shaw Mills. Since 2011, it's been owned by former greetings card entrepreneurs Ian O'Brien and Sandy Spilsbury, who lived there themselves until their children left home.

Si and Dave stayed in the music-themed holiday let and were seen playing the in-situ drum kit and enjoying a barbecue on the patio.

“All the original features are still in there, including a beautiful stained glass window. We love them and we haven’t spoiled them. We’ve just added some rock ’n’ roll and tried to make it a really happy place to be,” says Sandy.

Alison and Philip Dodd at Herbs Unlimited

They turned the chapel into a five-bedroom holiday let and began buying and renovating a series of interesting and unusual homes. These include an apartment in an old tobacco mill in York, which is now a York-themed holiday let, a windmill in Norfolk, which they are restoring as a holiday rental, and a water mill and gite in France.

“A lot of people our age like to go travelling but we got the property bug and we like to give all our homes a theme. Roger Moore lived at the windmill for a time so we are giving that a Bond island theme. We’ve been collecting things for that, including a head of a crocodile with a sign saying ‘trespassers will be eaten,’” says Ian, who honed his humour on creating side-splitting greetings cards for Harrogate-based Pigment Productions, the company he co-founded. Sandy was a specialist in writing sentiment cards before they decided to concentrate their efforts on homes.

The chapel’s rock ’n’ roll theme was chosen because it is close to their hearts. Both are music fans and Ian is a keen keyboard player. “We have keyboards in all our properties and the piano has to take pride of place. The chapel has three of them,” says Sandy. “It’s not unusual for Ian to get up in the middle of the night and start playing like Jerry Lee Lewis.”

When they bought the building, it had already been converted for residential use. Along with the idyllic location, Ian and Sandy were attracted by the ecclesiastical features and the potential. “It was an amazing space and we knew there was scope to put our own mark on it,” she says.

Monalisa Fathima of Saffron Tree

The couple converted the loft space into a twin bedroom and added a new metal staircase. They also utilised the vestry and made a one-bedroom apartment and created a large living kitchen by extending into what was a separate laundry room. One of the main features in the kitchen is a dining table, which has a zinc top made by local craftsman Richard Cowling.

Elsewhere, they took plaster off some of the walls to expose the original brick, added rustic floorboards and exposed beams. When it came to the decor, the cream and green palette was replaced by dramatic colours. The furniture and furnishings are equally bold and interesting and there is music memorabilia everywhere.

Sandy describes the look as “us using our imagination, going wild and pushing boundaries.” “The chapel has its original sign saying ‘no dancing, no singing, no alcohol’. We’ve broken all of the rules. That’s why we decided to rename it the Chapel of Rock,” says Ian, who loves classic rock ’n’ roll and Jools Holland’s boogie woogie, while Sandy has a penchant for Motown and disco.

Among the music-themed memorabilia they have collected for the chapel is a 1950s jukebox, which sits next to a set of traffic lights. The couple have also copied their favourite album covers and used them to create a collage on one wall and papered other walls with sheet music, which they stained with tea for a vintage look.

KC Caviar at South Milford

There are musical instruments everywhere, from a baby grand piano and banjos to bongo drums, and all are available to play. Their other great love, vintage signs, also feature heavily.

“We are also keen on repurposing and upcycling. We love hunting for salvage and going in charity shops looking for anything that’s interesting and quirky,” says Sandy, who adds: “I’m a farmer’s daughter and I was taught to be resourceful and Ian is the same. We’ll have a go at anything when we’re doing a project, from designing to labouring, decorating and tiling.”

The couple’s love of industrial chic sparked the idea to turn an old feeding trough into a barbecue and to use tractor prop shafts as legs for the outdoor dining chairs.

“We had fun creating the Chapel of Rock and we hope that guests enjoy it as much as we do,” says Sandy. “It’s something different from the norm.”

Kirkgate Market, Leeds

The Bikers' first calling point was Leeds. Both are fans of traditional markets and they loved Kirkgate, a large Victorian indoor hall where they met butchers, fishmongers and grocers.

Chapel of Rock holiday let, Shaw Mills

Yet as Yorkshire Post features editor Chris Bond found in 2020, the market has undergone a major resurgence and now has several independent eateries and street food options alongside the traditional stalls.

Business owner Anna Shindler found herself beguiled by Colombia’s food, people and culture during a trip to South America.

Inspired by the array of arepa (corn cakes) stands and ‘‘Tejo’’ bars, when she returned home to Leeds she and her sister, Beth, set up Kanassa - specialising in Colombian street food.

Beth already ran a street food business and Anna enjoyed cooking so it seemed to make sense to combine their skills.

They started out running Kanassa as a pop-up, doing weddings and food festivals, before being contacted “out of the blue” by Kirkgate Market, asking if they were interested in setting up there. They moved into the market’s bustling food court area in August 2019.

“It’s such a great place because there’s a real sense of community here. It’s not the same as opening a restaurant, it feels like you’re part of something bigger and that really appeals to us,” says Anna.

“We weren’t sure how we were going to be welcomed because it’s such different food and it’s all vegetarian, but we’ve been welcomed with open arms,” adds Beth. “We get as much of our produce as we can from the market because it’s on our doorstep. It means if we run out of coriander we can just nip up there,” she says pointing towards one of the fruit and veg stalls at the top end of the market. And business, they say, is flourishing. “It’s been better than we ever expected, and talking to people they say it’s the busiest the market’s been for a long time.”

Kanassa is next door to one of the market’s big success stories - Manjit’s Kitchen, which won best Street Food/Takeaway 2018 at the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards. It’s one of a string of new businesses that have moved into the market including Coles Gallery (the market’s first art gallery), The Fisherman’s Wife, a new fish and chip shop, and Cargo Crêpe, which Joe McDermott opened in 2019.

As well as crêpes, Joe makes pancakes and galettes. He says the market is an ideal base for him. “It’s an affordable place to start a small business like this and being here in a food court means people can come along and decide what to eat when they get here.”

Such sights and smells would have been alien to those folk who first set foot in the market when it opened its doors back in 1857. Built in the Gothic style of the famous Crystal Palace in London, the iron and glass structure cost £14,000 (the price tag today would be astronomical). It was here at Kirkgate that Michael Marks opened his Penny Bazaar in 1884 that led to the creation of Marks and Spencer six years later.

The market, though, has endured its fair share of trials and tribulations. In 1975, two-thirds of the building was destroyed by fire, but it was quickly rebuilt and extended by the following year. Another blaze in the early 90s damaged an Edwardian dome on the roof of the frontage, and this, too, needed to be restored.

In the 1980s, a controversial modernisation plan, in which many of the stalls would have been put in an underground complex, sparked widespread opposition and the proposals were abandoned.

The market has long been a place where you can find everything from fashion and flowers, to hardware and haberdashery. Now, the old-school stallholders have been joined by a new generation of vendors helping to make it more diverse, multicultural and ethical.

When the plush, multi-million pound Victoria Gate complex opened next door in 2016, it coincided with the market’s logos and signage being spruced up and gave well-heeled shoppers, who previously had little to entice them across Vicar Lane, a reason to venture into this vast labyrinth of the mundane and the exotic.

“The market” is still a work in progress, some of the stalls are empty or undergoing repairs, but Leeds City Council, which runs it, says footfall for January 2020 was up more than six per cent on the corresponding period in 2019.

Arguably the biggest coup was the arrival of The Owl - the market’s first ever pub. The driving force behind it is local businesswoman and restaurateur Liz Cottam who, along with chef Mark Owens, set up Home - a high end restaurant just a stone’s throw from the market.

The Owl has been open for only four months during which time it’s pulled in discerning Leeds diners and earned a glowing review from, among others, the Guardian’s food critic Grace Dent.

Cottam grew up in Leeds and knows the market, what she calls a “sleeping giant” like the back of her hand. “My mum and dad owned pubs and they bought all their produce from here and things like shoes, or a carpet. So on a daily basis as a child I was dragged around with my mum, who would stop and talk to all the traders – I got lost in here a million times,” she says. “I watched it go from a thriving place in the 80s to something far removed from that. It was never a place where you’d buy artisanal products, but it wasn’t somewhere you bought tat.”

Cottam would like to see it follow in the footsteps of places like London’s popular Borough Market and Barcelona’s famous Boqueria, both renowned for the quality of their food produce.

She felt that Kirkgate was under utilised and decided to put her money where her mouth is. “There are several reasons not to have a business here, but there was this one reason that outweighed all the others and that was because my heart wanted to do it and I really believed in it.” And while it’s still early days, she says so far it’s been a roaring success. “I’ve been in business over 20 years and we had ambitious targets for this place and we’ve exceeded them all.”

The pub’s first floor has just been renovated to help meet demand and Cottam has ambitious plans to open other foodie places in Kirkgate.

However, there are still challenges facing the market. Many vendors feel hampered by the opening hours (it doesn’t open on evenings) and the fact it’s closed on Sundays. Others, particularly sole traders, don’t want this to change as it will mean working longer hours.

There are concerns, too, regarding the adjacent outside market which is in decline, raising questions over its long-term future.

Lack of affordable city centre parking is also cited as a problem, and a valid one given the well publicised plight of our high streets.

Some long standing also stallholders feel the rents in the indoor market are too high, though the council says these haven’t been increased since 2008. It is a balancing act, though, and Cottam feels a lot of the criticism aimed at the council is unjustified. “When I came to them with my ideas they were the first to say ‘let’s look at how we can do it’ rather than looking for reasons not to.

“I feel we’re on the right track. There’s been a huge investment made and real inroads in terms of bringing people to the market.”

And she bristles at the suggestion that the market is being ‘‘gentrified’’. “Cultures thrive when there’s diversity and if you look back at some of the original drawings of the market, there are as many flat caps as top hats. So there was diversity back then and there needs to be diversity today.

“This is a historic building and I want it around forever and to do that you’ve got to have a sustainable business model behind it, and that means there needs to be something for people looking for good value and people looking for premium products.”

Saffron Tree, Harrogate

Monalisa Fathima welcomed the Bikers to her business premises in Harrogate, where they sampled her pre-prepared Indian spice mix range.

She launched Saffron Tree in 2019, and also participates in charitable endeavours - in the first lockdown she committed to providing up to 300 chilled meals a week for those in most need of a nutritionally balanced meal.

Ms Fathima increased production capability during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to make the additional meals from her purpose-built kitchen and production premises at Follifoot Ridge Business Park in Pannal.

The additional meals for free local distribution included a chicken curry and rice ready meal plus a vegetarian korma with rice.

Meals were delivered free by Saffron Tree’s refrigerated van.

Ms Fathima said in March 2020: “We are all in this together and it is important that we do whatever we can, however little, to get us through this difficult time. I am in a position to be able to produce extra meals every week for people who are not in a position to cook, buy or source food for health reasons or due to self isolation. This will hopefully help to ensure that local people in the community are getting a good meal at a time when they really need it.”

Hesper Farm Skyr, Bell Busk, Skipton

The Bikers met Sam Moorhouse and his parents, who have built up a dairy herd at their Dales farm yet were looking for ways to ensure it remained profitable for future generations.

They settled on producing the high-protein Icelandic yoghurt, skyr, in 2015. The business then secured the backing of two Yorkshire investors.

Sam, the family farm’s third generation, was looking at ways of diversifying the business when he came across an article on Icelandic dairy farming and the concept of skyr.

“The liquid dairy market tends to fluctuate quite a bit. We can go through good times and bad times.”

Swotting up on skyr he realised that it was high in protein and calcium but low in fat.

“It’s nutritional profile was on-trend,” Mr Moorhouse said, “but also it’s an interesting thing.”

To learn more, Mr Moorhouse flew across to Iceland and enlisted the help of Thorinn Sveinsson, who had previously managed one of the biggest skyr producing dairies in Iceland.

Mr Moorhouse said: “He agreed to show me how to make it and helped me launch this business in the UK.”

He added that the unique selling point of Hesper Farm’s skyr is that it’s made using authentic techniques with British milk on a family-run dairy farm.

Since the launch, the family has invested over £200,000 in new machinery and equipment. It has seen relative success having started off in farm shops it now counts itself as a supplier to Morrisons.

However, in order to step up a level, it secured investment from two Yorkshire entrepreneurs.

Wim Batist, lead investor and founder and chairman of Elland-based BCA Group, said: “While Sam had financial help from his parents to set up, he needed a lot more to reach where he wants to be.

“His business has potential to become a multi-million pound operation, especially with his strict quality control.”

The business increased its output to about 55,000kg of skyr compared with around 9,000kg in its first 12 months.

Mr Moorhouse said: “We are now at the stage where we have grown year-on-year, near enough doubling every year. We’ve invested as much as we can personally but we’ve got to a point now where we want to take the next step.”

That next step is national expansion. The business is looking at securing contracts with big retail chains.

“We’ve got a really clear plan, very clear objectives of what we want to achieve in the next couple of years with the brand,” Mr Moorhouse said.

The investment deal was brokered the corporate finance team at York-based accountancy firm Garbutt & Elliott.

Mr Moorhouse says Garbutt & Elliott was initially brought in around two years ago to “sort out” the firm’s accounting.

“Since they’ve come in it’s improved a lot,” Mr Morrhouse said. “That gives us that platform to grow.”

At the moment the focus is very much on skyr but Mr Moorhouse already sees potential in the by-product of the production of this Icelandic yoghurt.

“It’s a bit early to be saying at the moment but we are doing research into other products we can make with the by-products,” he said.

The firm already sells the whey by-product and because skimmed milk is used in skyr there’s also potential uses for the cream leftover.

Skyr yoghurt is made in a 24-hour labour-intensive process, with minimal mechanisation, by incubating skimmed milk with live active cultures and straining away the whey. Each pot uses four times as much milk as traditional plain yogurt, making it thick and creamy. The only sweetness is natural.

Sam Moorhouse started investigating the potential of sky back in 2014.

He said: “I hadn’t tried it until I got into Iceland. It’s their main dairy product over there. I tried it and it was a good tasting yoghurt.

“I went back to Iceland and learnt how to make skyr in the Westfjords in a factory over there.”

Herbs Unlimited, Sandhutton, Thirsk

Si and Dave visited Yorkshire's biggest herb garden and met Alison Dodd, who founded the business in the early 1990s. In 2017, she handed the reins to her son Philip after a period of ill health, but retains some involvement.

Alison is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who decided to start growing herbs when she couldn't find the ones she needed. Now her company supplies some of the top restaurants in the country, including the Savoy in London.

Alison now works three days a week at Herbs Unlimited which allows her time to follow other interests.

“My husband joked that he didn’t want me at home all the time but I won’t have time, there are so many things I want to do from working in the Thirsk Community Centre to doing an Open University degree.”

Philip and business partner Trevor Bosomworth took it over.

“It wasn’t an easy decision as it has been my life for 25 years but my family insisted that I take things a bit easier.”

After attending the Cordon Bleu cookery school Alison worked in a top restaurant in Henley before coming back to the north to run The George & Dragon in Wath, near Ripon - a pub that had been in her family since her great-grandfather’s time.

“I’m from generations of farmers. My parents Dick and Evelyn English had a dairy farm in Wath and an estate farm nearby."

She met her husband David through running the restaurant and she left to have her family. The couple have three children. The eldest Lucy works in social housing, Sally is a specialist nurse, and Philip studied agriculture.

“I think herbs had been such a massive part of the girls’ lives that they didn’t want anything to do with them,” says Alison.

“I was looking for something else to do in 1992 when it struck me that we couldn’t get fresh herbs for the restaurant, so I took a garden fork, turned over a bit of land on what I thought would make a suitable place to grow them and asked my father, who was a farmer, if I could have a corner of the field in Wath to get started.”

The first herb she grew was coriander, with sage, rosemary and thyme following.

Herbs Unlimited now has more than 45 herbs and a range of edible flowers and employs over 60 full-time staff.

Initially, she approached some of Yorkshire’s top restaurants who agree to take her herbs, but her big break came when food processors Cranswick were looking to market a premium sausage with fresh herbs.

“Initially I decided to sell my herbs to top restaurants by going direct. In those days it was only the Michelin-star chefs who understood the difference fresh herbs made to dishes and many restaurants were oblivious to how much it improved taste and flavour. I went to Hazlewood Castle, Rudding Park, the Blue Lion in East Witton and many more. We soon built up a following.

“Cranswick Plc became one of our first big customers and I’m delighted that we have grown with them and they remain a customer to this day.”

She soon outgrew her two-acre plot in Wath and took on a seven-acre prison garden site in Northallerton. But after five years they decided to sell the land for housing, leaving Alison looking for a new home for her business.

“The move to Northallerton really shifted the business upwards but suddenly I was faced with packing up or finding a way I could carry on,” recalls Alison.

“Trevor and Robin Bosomworth had lost their pig and dairy herds as a result of foot and mouth regulations and were looking to diversify.”

Originally they took just ten acres but now have 120 acres of field crops plus poly tunnels, and a chilling and bagging facility in Sandhutton near Thirsk.

They rotate their herbs with Trevor’s potatoes and wheat crops.

Although some of the biggest sellers are still mint (they have eight flavours), basil, parsley and thyme, there is a growing demand for more unusual varieties such as the fine-dining chefs’ favourite, Lemon Verbena.

“The growth in artisan gin making has also seen demand for our specialist herbs grow as people look for different botanicals for their gins,” says Phil .

Phil, who used to love driving the tractor around as a young lad, said he never planned to end up working in the family business.

“After university I spent three years working in Kent growing lettuce,” says Phil, who also spent time working abroad.

The majority of the workforce is Eastern European and Brexit has caused a lot of uncertainty.

“Suddenly people who had lived and worked here for years felt they weren’t welcome in the UK,” says Phil, who has been lobbying his MP.

“We rely on people from Eastern Europe as do a lot of industries.”

Phil sees the new growth area in edible flowers.

“The trend for tasting menus 
and for food to look good as well 
as taste good has led to an 
increase in demand for our edible flowers.”

Herbs Unlimited mainly supplies to wholesalers who supply restaurants and hotels across the country,

“You really need two years before a crop is really ready to be harvested," explains Phil.

“Which can be a headache but that’s mother nature for you.

“While I was away I realised that fresh produce was far bigger than the cottage industry I’d seen first hand in my youth. I came back from having been in charge of umpteen staff and 500 acres to just 20 but I’ve always had a vision of growing any business and ours is constantly evolving.

“One of my biggest beefs is that someone from Eastern Europe will jump on his or her bike in the rain whether they are well or not and cycle out here on time every day. British people don’t even knock on the door and ask for a job. I really feel very strongly about it.”

KC Caviar, South Milford, near Selby

The Bikers visited the Addey family's sustainable caviar operation on a former mushroom farm - home to sturgeon who will spend around 20 years there before retiring. They are harvested for their roe eggs without being harmed.

I’s in these unglamorous surroundings that father and son John and Mark Addey have been quietly masterminding what they hope might turn out to be something of a revolution in the caviar business.

“It has been a bit of a steep learning curve,” says Mark, who was a civil engineer before a change in family circumstances meant he wanted a job where he could work fewer hours and be closer to home to look after his daughter. “I’ve always been a keen fisherman, so thought I’d have a go at getting some sturgeon and seeing if we could start producing Yorkshire’s first ever caviar.”

To most people that would have been a leap in the dark too far, but Mark and John made life even more difficult for themselves by deciding that their caviar business would be entirely sustainable.

While the black stuff might not have the same ethical issues as foie gras or shark fin soup, it has had something of a chequered past. Traditionally caviar comes from the Caspian Sea and historically the only way to harvest the precious roe eggs involved killing the sturgeon. Eventually that method ended up decimating populations of the fish and when sturgeon were officially classed as an endangered species it fell off the menu.

“Sturgeon have thrived around the world for close to 250m years, but today most of the 27 species are now on the critical list,” says John. “In 2008, as the stocks in the Caspian Sea had fallen by 90 per cent on previous levels, sturgeon were given special protection.

“It did lead to major advances in fish farming methods and now there are more than 100 caviar farms around the world. But even so three million farmed sturgeon are still needlessly killed each year.”

Necessity, however, has proved to be the mother of invention and a few years ago a German scientist came up with a ‘no kill’ method which the Addey family is now using under licence.

“I am not sure why there hasn’t been a public outcry around caviar like there has been around foie gras or veal,” says John. “When we were doing our research before setting up our business we visited a number of caviar farms and the way they treated the fish was pretty brutal.

“Essentially the fish are hit on the head, then the underside of the fish is cut right down the middle and the roe is scooped out. We thought there had to be a better way and there is.”

Much like any other farm, the sturgeon at KC Caviar are housed in large tanks which replicate the seasons in terms of water temperature. Over the course of a year the fish are moved between the tanks and once ready, Mark has the job of massaging the eggs out of each sturgeon. Yes, that’s right, massage.

“We do it on this table here,” says Mark armed with a stuffed sturgeon used for demonstrations only. “Once we think they are ready we will double check by using the ultrasound.”

This bit of kit is exactly the same as the one used to scan pregnant women, the only addition being that at KC Caviar it now has a setting specifically for fish.

“All our fish go through their natural egg production cycle which culminates in controlled ovulation. It means that neither the eggs nor the fish are harmed in anyway, unlike forced stripping,” adds Mark.

“Once the eggs have been removed the fish is then returned to the recovery room and will eventually rejoin the others. The process can be repeated for many years, but when a fish is ready to retire that’s exactly what happens, they retire.

“Some companies market their caviar as ‘no kill’ because they perform a Caesarean-type operation which enables them to extract the caviar while the sturgeon is still alive. However, even though the stomach is stitched back together and the fish is released back into water they often die from the damage done to their internal organs.”

Once the eggs are removed - a 10kg fish will generally produce 1kg of roe - at KC Caviar, it’s the start of a military operation. Passed through a hatch into the processing room, the eggs are washed in Yorkshire spring water. They are then bathed in what John describes as a “secret product” before being stored in air tight containers.

“When they are first sealed the caviar has about a nine-month shelf-life, but as soon as the seal is broken, you have about 48 hours to eat it. Mark isn’t much of a fan of the stuff, so if we do end up opening tins as samples for people to try whatever is left tends to end up in my fridge,” says John.

While the Addeys may have done the hard work in building a caviar farm from scratch, the biggest hurdle has been getting it out to market. “We gave some to Rosemary Shrager, she loved it. In fact, every chef we have taken it to has said it’s some of the best caviar that they have ever tasted,” says John. “The next step for us is getting our name out there.

“Because caviar is so expensive and because once you open it you basically have to use it, restaurants will only buy in small quantities. Some caviar can become mush when you put it in your mouth, but ours really holds together and it has a real taste of the sea.

“We know we have a great product,” adds John. “We always knew that coming into a historic industry like the caviar business was going to be hard. But we also knew that if we could get it right then we could be really on to something.

“Because of the way we harvest the eggs, our product is a little more expensive than the average caviar with a 10g tin costing £49.99 and 30g retailing at £94.90. What we have here is really special and now we just need to let more people know about it.”

Yorkshire Dama Cheese, Sowerby Bridge

One of the most heartwarming visits was to a halloumi cheese production site run by two Syrian refugees who left Damascus for Huddersfield.

Traditionally made from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk, it’s been a mainstay of Middle Eastern countries for centuries, but was, until recently, niche in Europe.

They can’t call it halloumi due to a legal case (Cyprus has trademarked the name), so Razan Alsous and her husband Raghid Sandouk call it ‘Squeaky Cheese’ instead.

Raghid was a quality control engineer and Razan a university pharmacologist in their home country, and they used their skills to work out how to make cheese after being inspired by the large number of cows they found in Yorkshire.

“I couldn’t find halloumi in Huddersfield, so I thought, ‘why not make it myself?' " said Razan.

“I started experimenting at home. We got a £2,500 loan to make it commercially. My first premises was a fried chicken shop, and we were there for three years. We have won lots of awards, among them the World Cheese Award Gold Prize 2016.

“People love to eat our cheese.”

They eventually moved to an industrial unit near Halifax. With Yorkshire Dama Cheese (Dama is a riff on her home city) becoming an established regional name, the site was opened by Princess Anne.

Mrs Alsous, a mum of three, said: “I think people love that we’re local. There is provenance. We make lots of different cheeses now - my husband is also looking into Syrian yoghurt. I think the milk here in Yorkshire is very good.

“But we are going to have to increase the output.”

The Alsous’ had a hard journey from Syria to Yorkshire, but while “a hard decision”, Mrs Alsous says her family soon settled and got lots of support from the community.

“It wasn’t easy to move, but people have helped our business,” Mrs Alsous said to i.

“I don’t think culture here is too different to Damascus - people love heritage and food and communities. We’ve been accepted. People have been encouraging.”

The couple, with assistant manager Karen Bradley, sell their cheeses, yoghurt balls and labneh in markets from Sheffield to Edinburgh. Some deli shops stock it as far away as Cornwall.