Kerry Hiles lifts the lid on her creamy day job
Kerry Hiles is a professional entertainer who has dabbled in acting for stage and screen. While you may recognise her voice from radio adverts and documentaries, it is as a singer and bass player that she is most well-known.
What you probably don’t know is that Kerry has a secret day job … one that started, almost by accident, in 2010 … that of a cheese maker! Fast forward to the present, and her Pickme range of ricotta, paneer, quark and haloumi cheese (in five different flavours) has become popular not only among East London delis and private clients, but also as far afield as Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
However, as with all good relationships (even those with cheese) there comes a time for change … a bit of excitement, a little fling …In Kerry’s case it came in the form of an opportunity to purchase a small yogurt business. This proverbial seven year itch needed to be scratched and Kerry jumped at the chance.
Maintaining her ideal to provide affordable, quality home-grown goods and also cater to the health-conscious market, Kerry uses non-animal rennet in her cheese, avoids preservatives in the cheese, uses no salt except in the haloumi (traditionally a salty cheese), and generally attempts to make the cheese as naturally good for a person as possible, focussing on vegetarian-friendly products.
Her yogurt is gelatine-free (again, vegetarian-friendly), stabiliser-free and low in sugar. By careful selection of yogurt cultures, the 1kg fat-free yogurt has a creamy, smooth finish. The need for a longer shelf life, required by the restaurants and hotels, necessitates the use of potassium sorbate as a preservative in her fat-free yogurt. The 350ml full-cream drinking yogurt, however, is preservative-free.
Initially created to cater for scholars as a healthy lunchbox treat, early market testing revealed that it was the parents, rather than their offspring, who most enjoyed the fresh, not-too-sweet drinking yogurt. It has now become a firm favourite among the moms! Fruit pulp, rather than syrup, is used to flavour the yogurt, and this adds to the overall natural taste.
Milk is sourced from local professional dairies and then pasteurised before or during the cheese- and yogurt-making processes.
Pickme cheese and yogurt is available to private customers and delivered to most areas in East London on a Thursday. If you can't wait that long for your next bite of haloumi or sip of yogurt, get along to various outlets around the city to buy your own.
A limited range is available at Lavender Blue, Cinnamon Stick, Spargs and Irana. Alternatively, taste it on the menus at Lavender Blue, Umnenga Lodge, Haga Haga Hotel and Cafe Bella. A comprehensive range of Pickme products is stocked at Lime Fusion in East London and Fusion Speciality Foods in Grahamstown.
For more details, look up "Pickme Cheese and Yogurt" on Facebook, or email