A shoe with a Stilton wedge heel is the latest tactic being used by the Cambridgeshire village of Stilton in the United Kingdom to get its Blue Bell cheese officially recognized. Resident Richard Landy is seeking to overturn an October 2013 decision refusing to recognize the cheese as Stilton by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
In 1996, the Stilton Cheesemakers’ Association achieved Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for Blue Stilton from the European Commission, giving it protection from imitation. It also meant the cheese could only be produced in the counties of Leicester-shire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, where it is thought to have originated.
But according to Landy, a local historian, 18th century documents prove Stilton cheese originated in its namesake Cambridgeshire village. The story goes that Landy was researching the Bell Inn in the village of Stilton, when he found a recipe titled “Recipe for Stilton” for Stilton cheese. Landy says it confirmed the cheese originated in Cambridgeshire. But Stilton expert Trevor Hickman says the recipe was for a pressed cheese, whereas Stilton is not made in a press.
For many years Landy and his supporters have been contesting the terms of the PDO, taking their argument first to the Stilton Cheesemakers’ Association and then to Defra. “We just want the right to produce the cheese in Stilton. It’s the only protected food name product in the whole of Europe that can’t be produced in the place it’s named after,” Landy told BBC News.
To draw attention to his plight, Landy asked fellow resident and design student Lorna Grey, 19, to make the shoe. “Stilton makers produced Stilton perfume once, but we thought a Stilton shoe was a bit quirkier,” he told BBC News.
The shoe is not actually made of cheese. “I used a variety of materials and painted the wedge to make it look like real cheese,” Grey told BBC News.
A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) footwear design student, Grey says she drew inspiration for the mouse face from shoe designer Charlotte Olympia and created the Stilton wedge. As a final touch she added a mouse’s tail to the back, which forms an ankle tie.
The shoe has been featured on TV, BBC News Online, on the radio and in newspapers.
Stay tuned… the villagers don’t plan on giving up this fight anytime soon. CC