A WILTSHIRE woman has landed her dream job as a dairy technologist for Marks and Spencer.

Izzie Reid grew up in Seend Cleeve, and went to school in Melksham and Chippenham.

Her job involves perfecting the cheeses sold at the supermarket; discovering the world’s finest cheese suppliers, keeping her finger on the pulse of the latest trends and eating over 3000 cheeses each year.

She has worked at M&S for over six years and, in that time, has launched more than 100 cheeses.

“I’ve always loved science and studied biology at university,” she said.

“I wanted a job that paired science with my passion for food and cooking, and once I’d completed a Food Science Masters, I knew I’d found something I could really get passionate about.

“As a general rule, careers in science are quite male dominated, but science is for everyone, and there are so many paths you can take into this exciting area…not least the path to cheese!”

A big part of Izzie’s role is comparing M&S cheeses against the competition. She and her team conduct regular benchmarking sessions, tasting anything from 50-100 cheeses at once.

With around 50 sessions per year, that’s over 3,750 different cheeses sampled by Izzie.

She added: “Each week we conduct in depth quality control sessions, reviewing products in the range, to ensure they meet the high standards we set.

“As an example, for our Cornish Cruncher, we not only taste the cheese for consistency, but examine its structure and how it feels, to ensure all aspects are as we’d expect.

“To ensure the team can detect all the different complex flavour profiles of the cheeses, we’re all scientifically screened to identify levels of sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami notes- it’s in-depth training!

“We need to be able to identify all the different flavours at tiny levels to be able to do our job properly. The mix of food science and a product range I’m so passionate about makes it the dream job for me.”

This year has been a very different year and Izzie and the team have turned the challenges into opportunities to keep relationships strong with suppliers by conducting regular video calls.

“Prior to Covid-19, I’d be travelling to factories and suppliers two or three times a week; meeting large multinational companies as well as farmhouse producers. We’ve since adapted, conducting a lot of those meetings virtually and stocking our fridges at home for benchmarking via video calls.

“The last year has given me the opportunity to explore the cheeses we’re lucky enough to produce in this country and get inspiration from local delis, restaurants and markets – when government restrictions allowed.”

“Of course having the world’s best job and eating all those delicious cheeses, also means that I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside work,” she said.

“In my spare time, I like to go for long hikes to keep healthy and burn off some of those extra cheese calories just a little.”