We catch up with the village cheesemonger, Buchanans Cheesemonger to talk about their favourite cheeses, why they chose Connaught Village and how they founded their business.
1) Do you remember the first time you developed an interest in becoming a cheesemonger?
I worked for many years in fine dining restaurants, and I first got excited about cheese when I was managing Restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh. I was tasked with taking charge of the cheese trolley – keeping it all looking nice and making sure it was profitable. It meant that I got to know our cheese suppliers, Karen and Ian Mellis, really well, and that led to an apprenticeship with them at I J Mellis Cheesemonger. I later got a job with Paxton & Whitfield on Jermyn Street which was supposed to be temporary as I was due to move to New York to work with Thomas Keller at 3-Michelin-starred Per Se – but I changed my mind and ended up becoming general manager of Paxton & Whitfield where I stayed for 7 years before I set up my own business.
2) What is your favourite cheese from your current stock?
My favourite cheese that I come back to time and again is Gorwydd Caerphilly from Trethowan Dairy in Somerset. It’s has a delicious, lactic freshness and closer to the rind has a more mushroomy, savoury character.
3) Where do you think the best cheese is served out of all of the restaurants in London?
It’s difficult for me to answer that! I love a cheese trolley when it is done really well, La Trompette in Chiswick is a good example, but sometimes I find something much simpler to be really effective, where the chef has chosen just a few cracking cheeses that are served in excellent condition. For example Stewart at London Shell Co in Paddington serves an oozing slice of Baron Bigod (a brie-style cheese from Suffolk) with a few delicious homemade crackers and a couple of dates. The simple accompaniment provides a delicious pairing but importantly lets the cheese sing.
4) How would you best incorporate cheese into a dish?
One of my favourite dishes is cheese soufflé – my mum used to make it when I was little and it seems to have come back in vogue recently. The other week I had the double-baked soufflé with Montgomery’s Cheddar at Elystan Street and it was outstanding.
5) Why did you decide to found your own business as a cheesemonger?
I always knew I wanted to run my own business, even as a child I feel like I had a certain entrepreneurial spirit – I think I even used to sell the neighbours’ fruit back to them! The more I learned about cheese it became obvious that should be at the heart of my business, combined with my love of service and restaurants. Plus cheese is such a rewarding industry to be a part of – I’m surrounded by inspiring suppliers and producers who are all passionate about their product.
6) What makes Buchanan’s Cheesemonger unique amongst the other competition?
Our aim is to source the best cheese from the best producers and supply it in top condition whilst providing excellent service. In our shop we try to keep the selection of cheeses on the counter varied and only bring cheese up from the maturing rooms that’s ready to eat and tasting great.
7) Are there any cheeses you dislike?
There is a trend for super-strong waxed cheddars which I can’t get on board with, I think it’s quite a sad representation of one of this country’s greatest handmade products and the time-honoured tradition of its production. There is so much subtlety in a good quality westcountry farmhouse cheddar and I love when you can taste the quality of the milk that has gone in to making it.
8) Why did you decide to set up shop in Connaught Village?
One of the big draws to being in Connaught Village was the central location close to so many of our restaurant customers. In the beginning we delivered everything on our cargo bike and although we’ve had to move to a van now that the business has grown, it’s still crucial for us to be on our customers’ doorstep whenever we need to drop off a last-minute order, pop in to train staff or help them choose new cheeses for their menus. Connaught Village also offered a great location for our shop and we enjoy being part of the community and providing the locals with great cheese.