Buchanan’s Cheesemonger in London has won the coveted title of Cheese Counter of the Year at the World Cheese Awards 2015, which took place at the NEC in Birmingham on Thursday 26 November. Tucked away on a quiet street close to the Edgware Road and Marble Arch, the shop and maturing rooms is run by Rhuaridh Buchanan (pictured above), who established Buchanan’s Cheesemonger in 2014 as a centre of excellence for all things cheese.
Having spent the previous decade honing his trade with some of the most respected cheesemongers, cheese makers, affineurs and artisans, Rhuaridh’s shop impressed judges with its “beautifully presented cheese counter and incredibly knowledgeable staff, encouraging customers to taste the cheese without overwhelming them with too much information.”
The judges loved how Buchanan’s range of cheeses changes every day, saying;
“There is something new and exciting to try in the shop whenever you visit and the cheeses are always in tip-top condition. Rhuaridh has one of the finest palates in the business and that is evident not just from the cheese, but also from the accompaniments. There is a great range of interesting and unusual wines, beer, tea, saki and cider, which have all been carefully chosen to match well with cheese. We also liked the little details - Roquefort-print wallpaper in the small tasting room, a customised bicycle to deliver to restaurants and a basket full of Kentish cobnuts at the till. They help give the shop a unique personality.”
Cheese writer Patrick McGuigan, head judge of the Cheese Counter of the Year competition which is sponsored by Le Gruyère AOP, explained;
“The Cheese Counter of the Year award is all about celebrating the independent retailers, delis, food halls and farm shops that offer customers something different in terms of experience, quality and range. It’s such a pleasure putting the miles in to find Britain’s best, as the award does so much to raise the profile of those unsung heroes across the country who are as passionate about their cheese as the makers are.”
Rhuaridh sources British cheeses directly from producers, while French cheeses come from a Paris-based consolidator, who has excellent links with farmhouse cheesemakers and maturers. Buchanan’s completes the ageing process in its London cellars, with each room run at a specific temperature and humidity level to allow for the individual needs of the cheese. Buchanan’s supplies some of London’s top restaurants and offers a daily changing line-up of 25-30 British and European cheeses, based on what is ripe and ready among the 150-strong selection in its onsite maturing rooms.
“The standard of the competition gets raised every year and while there are already some excellent, well-established cheese shops in Britain, we are also seeing a new wave of younger people with fresh ideas coming onto the scene, which shows just how exciting and dynamic British cheese is at the moment. Buchanan’s is at the forefront of this new movement and we were delighted to recognise the shop with this award. It's so encouraging to see a new champion of good cheese in the capital,”
commented Patrick McGuigan.
There were 10 finalists in Cheese Counter of the Year. Second place was awarded to Paxton and Whitfield in Stratford Upon Avon and third place went to La Cave a Fromage in Hove. The award was presented at the World Cheese Awards dinner on 26 November, which was attended by over 250 cheese judges and producers.
The World Cheese Awards, organised by The Guild of Fine Food, took place at the NEC in Birmingham on Thursday 26 November, with around 2,700 cheeses and over 250 judges coming together under one roof. Next year’s World Cheese Awards will be held in San Sebastián in the Basque Country, during its tenure as European Capital of Culture, forming part of the International Cheese Festival between 16-19 November 2016.
More information on the World Cheese Awards can be found at www.gff.co.uk/awards/world-cheese-awards.