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Say cheese for Razan's Yorkshire take on Halloumi.

Byline: Robert Sutcliffe News Reporter robert.sutcliffe@examiner.co.uk

SYRIAN mum-of-three Razan Alsous is hoping to become the next 'big cheese.'.

Razan, 31, fled the war in her homeland two years ago and now runs a successful cheese-making factory in Linthwaite.

Razan, who comes from Damascus, started her Yorkshire Dama Cheese business with help from the West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency.

And on Friday she was delighted when she took part in the BBC Food Show in London and won a World Cheese award, a bronze prize for her Yorkshire Halloumi.

The factory produces a range of Halloumi cheese made from Yorkshire milk which is already being sold in shops across West Yorkshire.

When she arrived in the UK from Damascus in July 2012, she wanted to start her own business to support her family and, with a background in microbiology, she decided cheese-making would be a good use of her skills.

She said: "I wanted to do something that helped my family and built a good future for my kids in our new home.

"I went to the JobCentre and told them about my hope to start a business and they referred me to the West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency and placed me on the New Enterprise Allowance."

Researching her options on the internet she found that the UK was the second biggest consumer of Halloumi in Europe but there were not many producers. Sweden is the biggest.

She decided to fill that gap and produce a high quality home-produced range of the cheese which she says is eaten in Syria for breakfast every morning.

Yorkshire Dama Cheese was born after Razan was placed on the Government scheme which helps those out of work to start their own business.

With the support of business mentor Veronica Baldwin she produced a business plan and then set up her base in Linthwaite.

Razan, of Milnsbridge, said: "My mentor was brilliant and gave me all the information I needed to start up the business.

"Everything seemed so daunting and at times I wasn't sure where to start, but she helped me through the entire process. My motto is that nothing is impossible, especially when there are people out there who can help you."

Razan is already developing new products, including the soon-to-belaunched Herbal Cheese.

Razan hopes her products will be on sale in more shops across Yorkshire and around the country soon. She said: "I am very optimistic and excited about the future. Within five years I am confident I will be in bigger premises, be offering a wider selection of cheeses and have more customers."

And she is full of praise for her new found Yorkshire friends saying: "The locals are wonderful. They have made us all so welcome, I never feel I am away from home. I am proud to live here and I would like to stay here permanently."

HALLOUMI FACTS makers began pouring more of the cheaper and more-plentiful cow's milk into their cauldrons.

Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese |and a flagship of the cuisine of Cyprus, where it has been produced for centuries, but it also gained popularity throughout the Middle East.

Halloumi is registered as a |protected Cypriot product in the USA, but not yet in the EU.

Traditional halloumi is made |with goat's and sheep's milk but, as demand grew, industrial cheese Halloumi is the biggest cheese |export product of Cyprus with the UK taking nearly a third of that.

HALLOUMI FACTS | Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese |and a flagship of the cuisine of Cyprus, where it has been produced for centuries, but it also gained popularity throughout the Middle East.

Traditional halloumi is made |with goat's and sheep's milk but, as demand grew, industrial cheese makers began pouring more of the cheaper and more-plentiful cow's milk into their cauldrons.

Halloumi is registered as a |protected Cypriot product in the USA, but not yet in the EU.

Halloumi is the biggest cheese |export product of Cyprus with the UK taking nearly a third of that.

CAPTION(S):

Cheese maker Razan Alsous (top) with some of her cheeses and (above) |Raghid Sandouk, Mreda Alsous and Basel Altorah pour in a churn of milk 181114HCHEESE_09
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 19, 2014
Words:698
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