I can’t believe it’s not cheese – Made in Hackney : Life Beyond Cheese

I had the privilege of attending on a complimentary basis one of Made in Hackney vegan cheese masterclasses ‘Life Beyond Cheese’ with Ellie Phoebe Brown in return for a blog.

I am not a vegan but I have got a tolerance to dairy especially cheese so this class was definitely one which would be beneficial to me as I love cheese but cheese does not love me.

Firstly though before I tell you about my masterclass experience and all the wonderful cheeses I created and ate I will tell you a little more about Made in Hackney and Ellie Phoebe Brown who runs ‘Life Beyond Cheese’ masterclasses.

Made in Hackney

Made in Hackney

The Founders

Made in Hackney was set up by Sarah Bentley and Joshana Lovage together back in summer 2011. They are both passionate about making healthy, sustainable, local food available to all.

What is their mission?

They want to teach vital food growing and cooking skills which is 100% plant based. Their seasonal, plant based program covers everything from basic cookery skills to sugar free baking, preserving, composting, foraging and making your own cosmetics.

They want to help people reduce meat, dairy and eggs from their diet to help the environment and planet we live in.  They want to teach people the skills, inspiration and desire to make veggies, lentils, seeds, nuts and whole grains take centre stage in their lives and on their plates.  Their core areas of impact are health, environment and community, with love and compassion at the centre of all they do, which they don’t believe a menu including animal products can deliver.

What Is Plant Based?

Plant-based food is healthier for you.  Did you know the recommended daily intake of meat is 70g maximum per day which is roughly equivalent to one pork chop. Even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, to be healthy you should mostly cook and eat plant-based meals.

Plant-based food is cheaper. The best quality plant-based food is far cheaper than the best quality animal products. Plant-based meals therefore mean you get to eat the best for less.

Plus plant-based food is better for the environment. The cattle and dairy industry produce more green house gas emissions than all the car drivers in the world. Plants on the other hand clean the air by absorbing such gases.

They believe….

They believe taking animal products completely out of your diet, or at least reducing them, and replacing them with more plants is a 100% good move for both your health and that of the planet.


They want people to discover the joys of making and eating plant based food.

They hold many masterclasses & community classes, courses, bespoke events and hold employer classes throughout the year.

Their mission is to help make people eat healthier in an ethical, environmentally sustainable way and helping the planet.

To learn more about their upcoming classes or to book a class click here.

Ellie Phoebe Brown

Ellie Phoebe Brown has been an enthusiastic cook from an early age but it was the shift to a plant-based diet that really ignited her passion for food. Keen to spread the word that vegan food doesn’t have to be all lentils and deprivation, Ellie especially loves creating delicious, plant-based versions of old favourites to show that there’s no recipe that need be off limits! Her latest recipes are documented on her blog ‘Kind State of Mind’ and she has her own brand of homemade vegan cheeses on sale.

Ellie has not always been vegan though as she became vegan in October 2015.  Why as she loves animals, nature and loved the idea of being healthier, however her everyday lifestyle was not exactly reflecting those values.  So a friend of Ellie who became vegan then prompted her to become vegan and after researching the animal farming for herself Ellie was shocked and this gave her the push to eliminate animal products from her diet all together. She learnt that everything she had read pointed to the detrimental effect that animal farming and our consumption of animal products is having on the planet, health and on animals.

She then created her own blogging website (http://kindstateofmind.com) to share with others what she has learnt along the way in being vegan, and how to cook delicious food from plants.

“So many people feel they couldn’t live without cheese, and see this as the main barrier to embracing a plant-based diet. But what if you could still make delicious cheesy flavours without the need for dairy? In this class you will learn how to whip up quick, easy and delicious cheesy tasting dishes made from 100% plant-based ingredients!”

Ellie Phoebe Brown, Vegan Cheesemaker and Blogger (Kind State Of Mind)

Life Beyond Cheese

I can’t believe it’s not cheese

I went along to learn and make cheese, but vegan cheese.

Me tomatoe spoon - Made in hackney : Life Beyond Cheese

I and other’s got to learn and discover what ingredients are used in recreating the textures and flavours of different types of vegan cheese.  One of the main ingredients which is used in all vegan cheese is nut and cashews at that, lots of them.

Cashews - Made in Hackney : Life Beyond Cheese

Entering down to the basement of Food for All we were all put into groups of three’s at the working station with other fellow guests.

The area was quite small but plenty of room for us to manoeuvre.

There was also a number of photo on the walls showing many famous vegans.  I never knew that Einstein was a vegan.

After introductions from Ellie and her co workers we then got to learn what we was going to make which was an Ultimate Mac n Cheese, Sun-dried Tomato & Cheese Croquettes, Italian Style Ricotta Cheese, Garlic & Rosemary Baked Camembert and Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese.

Ultimate Mac n Cheese 

I would never of thought you could make a great Mac n Cheese without using real cheese but how I was proved wrong. Not only did the whole texture of this dish taste like a real Mac n Cheese but it also looked like a Mac n Cheese as well with it’s yellow colouring from the turmeric used within the dish.  I honestly don’t think I would be able to tell the difference between a real cheese based Mac n Cheese to a vegan cheese based one.

Sun-dried Tomato & Cheese Croquettes 

This was a more dense cheese and was quite sweet in taste I assume because of the sun dried tomatoes which was used within it.  However for me I did not particularly enjoy it.  For some reason I kept on thinking of brown sugar and maple syrup.  Maybe it is because of the dark brown colour of the vegan cheese and the sweetness to it.  Plus it was coated in oats which I don’t like.  However if you love sun dried tomatoes and oats you will most likely love these.

Italian Style Ricotta Cheese

Wow! now that is what I call a great ricotta. Who would have thought this ricotta had no animal based products within it.  Made from cashews and tofu it gave this cheese not only the look, fluffiness and texture but the taste was totally divine.  I would never of thought if I was served this without knowing it was vegan.  I will certainly be looking at making this in the future and using as an alternative to the usual animal based made ricotta.

Garlic & Rosemary Baked Camembert 

Do you love Camembert and dipping bread into it? then this vegan type Camembert is a great alternative.  It is gooey, sticky, stretchy and tastes ever so creamy.  This was also one of the most easiest of the cheeses to make and quickest.  So if you love Camembert or are entertaining family or friends then I highly recommend making this and see if your guests notice that it is not real cheese as I guarantee they probably won’t realise as that is how great it is.

Near the end before making the last cheese of the night which was Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese.  We got to sit down and enjoy a lunch of the vegan cheese in which we all made together.  All the cheeses were vegantastic.

Cheeses - Made in hackney : Life Beyond Cheese

After indulging in this vegan feast it was then onto making the last vegan cheese of the night.

Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese 

This is a very creamy cheese which you can add whichever herbs you like to give it different tastes.  I am into thyme so I used lots of thyme and garlic in mine.  So the garlic and thyme gave my cheese that powering hit with the lovely creaminess of the cheese.  Great on crackers.

The class was now near the end.  After eating the many cheeses If I had to choose one I would say my favourite was certainly the Camembert as it was sticky, gooey, and ever so delicious.

Here is a video by Bosh & Ellie on how to make Camembert or should I say Camembosh:

Before leaving it was now time to go but before leaving as there was plenty of vegan cheese left over it was out with our food containers.  As you can imagine we all stuffed our containers up with this divine vegan cheese.

In fact I ate some of my vegan cheese the next day and it still tasted as fresh as the day before.  Even the Mac n Cheese which I revived by adding a little water and heating on the hob.

Vegan Cheese overload

Me and Ellie - Life Beyond Cheese

Having learnt about vegan cheese via Ellie Phoebe Brown was a real treat. She was lovely and very knowledgeable and I learnt so much not just about vegan cheese but plant based products.

Who would have thought when soaking and blending cashews they would offer a rich and creamy texture and great flavour with nutritional yeast (an inactive yeast) which gives it the unmistakable cheesy flavour when added to foods.

By attending this class it certainly has make me think about how environmentally friendly and kind to animals becoming a vegan could be.

However as much as I loved learning and making all the vegan cheeses and eating them I could never become a vegan unfortunately as I am not keen on a number of vegetables so it would be very hard for me, even though as much as I would love to.  I love animals passionately don’t get me wrong in fact I try to incorporate animal experiences within my holiday travels but unfortunately I do love my meat and fish.

This class has certainly made me think about looking of ways to cut down on animal based products. For example I could now look at making vegan cheese based lasagne or use a vegan cheese as an alternative for me jacket potato filling instead of chilli con carne or real cheese.

The ‘Life Beyond Cheese’ class cost £70 and included a delicious organic lunch and was held in the basement of Food For All, 3 Cazenove Rd, Stoke Newington, London, N16 6PA.

I certainly would say that the value of the class was worth it as not only do you get to learn about plant based food, learn how to cook amazing vegan cheeses but the most important thing is ways you can alternate your food intake in cutting down on animal based products (for a non vegan like myself) and help the planet.

Want to attend a masterclass by Made in Hackney?

To check out future events or to book a class with Made in Hackney click here.


Question yourself what could you live without? what could you change in your diet?

It could be something simple as swapping a meat burger for a mushroom burger, or swapping dairy milk to soya milk.  As if everyone made a few little changes within their eating habits the total effect could be huge to the planet, our bodies and animals.


Thank you to Made in Hackney for the complimentary invite in coming along to learn how to make vegan cheese.  All views are my own honest opinion

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: