NO CHRISTMAS is complete without great cheese, a nativity scene and some snow – so why not combine the three?
That’s exactly what Pilgrims Choice has done to bring the world’s cheesiest nativity scene to the Chill Factore in Manchester this weekend.
The cheddar brand hired a sculptor who used around 40KG of mature cheddar to carefully fashion a highly detailed scene, complete with all the essentials of a Christmas nativity.
At first glance it may look like a typical nativity setting, but there is one key difference with this seasonal scene – it has been painstakingly crafted by hand entirely from cheddar cheese.
The scene, which will be on show on the balcony at Chill Factore, includes a cheese Joseph and cheese Mary huddled around a cheese crib with a cheese shepherd and even cheese wise men carrying gifts of Branston pickle, as well as cheese sheep, a cheese cow and, of course, a cheese donkey in tow.
But at the centre of the meticulously sculpted model, which also has its own detailed stable housing the characters, is the young infant whose story is so famed – Baby Jesus.
Commissioned by Pilgrims Choice cheddar cheese, the nativity scene was hand-carved by renowned food artist Prudence Staite in her special workshop based in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
36-year-old Prudence used 40KG of Pilgrims Choice mature cheddar and softened the offcuts in a special food processor so she could use it to shape the detail of the cheesy nativity.
Once she had formed the figures and sculpted the detail, including intricate faces and the fabric folds of their clothes, she stored the figures in a fridge to firm them up for the display.
The sculpture stands at 40 cm by 15 cm – with the animals measuring just 6 cm by 15 cm.
Prudence, who is famed for her cheesy re-creation of Burlesque star Dita von Teese (Dita von Cheese), and made headlines when she crafted a life-sized cheese tractor, says the nativity scene was one of her most challenging assignments.
Prudence said: “Sculpting the faces of Mary and Joseph was very difficult and fiddly, and creating the whole sculpture was a real challenge as it’s so intricate.”
It took Prudence five days to create the stunning artwork from scratch and Pilgrims Choice bosses were delighted with the outcome. So delighted, they wanted to show it to members of the public and chose Chill Factore in Manchester as it offered not only a chilled environment perfect for preserving the display, but also hundreds of visitors over this busy pre-Christmas weekend.
Much of the detail was so tiny that Prudence had to use a cocktail stick and a magnifying glass to create the face of Jesus in the crib, which even has its own straw sculpted from cheese.
Pilgrims Choice spokesman, Andrew Dyer, said: “Prudence is such a talented artist and we were really impressed with the work she had previously done using cheese as a model material.
“As a company based in the North West, we are proud to join forces with Manchester based attraction, Chill Factore. We wanted to have some fun and bring the ultimate Christmas nativity scene to the 180 metre real snow slope, because we believe that Christmas isn’t complete without a good nativity, fresh snow and great cheese.”
Morwenna Angove, CEO at Chill Factore said: “It’s such an impressive piece of art – we’re delighted to give our guests an exclusive peek at The World’s Cheesiest Nativity Scene and look forward to getting into the Christmas spirit this weekend. As a company based in Manchester, we are proud to join forces with North West brand Pilgrims Choice.”