This month HyPER is putting the spotlight on Buchanans Cheesemonger, an independent cheese shop since 2014, in Connaught Village and one of the best loved shops in our community. In preparation for this month’s pop up party, HyPER Spokesman, Chris Gunness, talks to Rhuaridh Buchanan.
Chris: Give us the background about the shop and why you opened it.
Rhuaridh: Our shop is at the heart of our business and we love being able to share our enthusiasm for cheese with the locals. We are primarily a wholesaler – I set out to supply exceptional cheese to the London restaurant industry, and in many ways the shop was something of an afterthought. But the unit I was offered in Connaught Village had space for maturing cheese in the cellar and a ground floor area ideal for retail. I think it’s since grown to be a well-loved shop in the local community.
Chris: What is at the heart of your philosophy as a cheesemonger?
Rhuaridh: Our work is all about flavour and the pleasure that great cheese can deliver. We source cheeses that are made with care and only pass them on to our customers when they are ready to leave our maturing rooms, that way we can be sure that our cheese is consumed at its most delicious. We have around 100 varieties of British and European cheese and our shop counter reflects which of these are ready to eat and tasting great. So our offering changes daily and you can be sure that you will walk out with something great.
Chris: And it’s evolved into a business that sells more than cheese.
Rhuaridh: Yes. As well as cheese, we have a constantly evolving range of other food and drinks on offer. We spend a lot of time sourcing interesting and tasty products and nothing makes it to our shelves without our team tasting it and agreeing that it delivers great flavour.
Chris: What to you offer particularly local consumers? What’s special about the area from the perspective of a local retailer such as yourself?
Rhuaridh: I think what our regular customers like about our shop is that it’s run by a small team of food-lovers – we’ve all chosen cheese as our profession all enjoy cooking and eating. We love to share our experience and enthusiasm with our customers. We know lots of our customers by name and like to get to know their preferences so that we can recommend something delicious that they are going to love.
Chris: It’s been a terrible time with the pandemic, but what are your hopes for the post-Covid future?
Rhuaridh: At the start of the pandemic lots of people rediscovered their local area and independent shops through necessity, when the supermarket shelves were bare. In a time when almost anything can be bought online and the choice can be overwhelming, I really believe in the pleasure of visiting an independent shop, not just for the personal connection but for the value in a trusted recommendation. I think over the last year people have drifted back to their old shopping habits and I hope that in time the value in what businesses like ours offer will be recognised and some of that custom will return.
Buchanans Cheesemonger, 5a Porchester Place, London W2 2BS.
Tel: 020 3441 8010