Creamy, crumbly, hard or delectably odorous: we’re talking cheese. Specifically, hand-made, small-batch cheeses, made in Aotearoa. At The Artisan Hub in the Catalina Bay Farmers Market, you’ll find Dan Jennings proudly presiding over his exceptional range of over 40 of these beauties. It’s his happy place.
The Artisan Hub has its roots in a fortnightly Cheese Club, begun by Dan over five years ago at his previous workplace – Air New Zealand. A deep respect for New Zealand-made cheese was born, and when COVID-19 intervened and Dan was made redundant along with so many others, it was the impetus he needed to change his life direction.
A year’s study sabbatical saw Dan working in a cheese shop in Milford, just down the road from his home in Mairangi Bay. Soon he was meeting cheesemakers from all over Aotearoa and his passion grew until he decided to make the leap into starting his own business.
Since beginning his venture, Dan has continued to search the motu to find our very best products. “I want small-batch cheesemakers to be able to focus on their craft, not on marketing,” he says. “I believe New Zealand has some of the best cheeses in the world and the idea is to curate a fine selection of those to bring to enthusiasts.”
When asked about favourites, Dan’s hard pressed to call it, but does love Mercer Cheese’s vintage gouda (“two years old, tangy, with caramel notes and a crystalline crunch”). He’s adamant that Mt Eliza’s ‘Blue Monkey’ from Katikati is the best blue in New Zealand and is also particularly fond of the Masterton-based Drunken Nanny’s ‘Black Tie’, a zesty, pyramid-shaped goat cheese coated in black ash from French grapevines.
You can shop online at The Artisan Hub – try the Mini, Classic or Grande cheeseboards; or for the true enthusiast, subscribe to receive a delivery of four specially selected cheeses every month (Dan also stocks cheese accoutrements such as platters, knives, chutneys and pastes). You can even get him over to your home or workplace to give you and your guests a guided cheese tasting experience.
But for Hobsonville Point residents, they can simply pop down to The Artisan Hub in the Catalina Bay Farmers Market on the weekend to stock up on Dan’s artisan delights. Or join his cheese club – they meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 6.30pm in the market building to enjoy guided tastings in like-minded company (but do get your tickets here first as he needs to ensure plenty of cheesy goodness for all!).
Dan’s such a fan of the area that he’s looking at moving to the Point soon. “Hobsonville Point has been a great starting point for The Artisan Hub,” he says happily. “A close but diverse community that loves good food, with a fantastic farmer’s market in a seafront location – how can you get better than that?”.