Let's talk cheese, cheese and more cheese. The team at City Pantry catch up with cheesemonger Rhuaridh Buchanan.
Despite only being established for a few years now, Buchanans already counts some of London's best restaurants amongst its customers. And it's no surprise. If you're crazy for camembert, wild for Wensleydale or even partial to parmigiano reggiano? Buchanans Cheesemonger have got you covered.
And because we can't get enough of their cheese, we at City Pantry grabbed five minutes with owner Rhuaridh Buchanan to talk success, his favourite thing on the menu and - you guessed it - cheese.
What was your inspiration for Buchanans Cheesemonger?
Cheese deserves to be delicious, and I wanted to establish a wholesaler that would not only source and expertly condition the finest cheese from the best producers, but sell it to restaurants with a level of customer service that you would expect from a specialist independent retailer.
I worked for many years in fine dining restaurants before training as a cheesemonger at I J Mellis Cheesemonger in Edinburgh. I moved to London and became general manager of Paxton & Whitfield where I stayed for 7 years before I set up my own business.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you set up shop?
I knew the product and understood the market, I even managed to come up with the cash, but I had underestimated how difficult it would be to secure suitable premises in central London that were affordable. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for start-ups right now with the recent hikes in rates.
How did you start out with City Pantry?
We were regularly asked to do events in offices, offering cheese tastings or cheese platters for lunches and meetings. We started offering these in a portable format in our recognisable Roquefort-print boxes. Then one of our customers who was successfully working with City Pantry suggested we would be a great fit too.
What's been your most interesting experience running Buchanans?
Every year I am invited to judge at the World Cheese Awards, which takes place in a different country every November - this year it’s being held in Bergen, Norway. It’s a great opportunity to travel, meet my industry colleagues and try some new cheeses – although it really is a tough job judging the thousands of entries, you do get a bit cheesed out.
What's your favourite thing on the menu?
It’s hard to pick but I love the British Artisan Cheese Selection; it’s great to see quality British cheeses being recognised as equals to their continental counterparts.
Favourite restaurant in London?
I eat out a lot through work and it really depends on what mood I’m in but you can’t beat a good plate of hand-made pasta. My current favourite is Flour & Grape on Bermondsey Street.
Favourite watering hole?
I’m not a regular or anything but if I have a friend visiting London I like to take them to the bar at Galvin at Windows on the top floor of the Hilton on Park Lane for the near-360° views of London.
Favourite food blogger?
I generally prefer old-fashioned food writers and enjoy reading traditional long format print journalism. Having said that, I do enjoy the odd podcast, the Cellarman Podcast is a current favourite.
If you could be mentored by any chef, who would it be?
I would choose Phil Howard. He’s been at the forefront of London’s restaurant scene for pushing three decades and I appreciate what he stands for – he’s all about the harmony of flavours and creating a delicious mouthful of food that is unpretentious and honest.
Thank you to Rhuaridh for speaking to us for our Meet the Restaurant series! If you want to read more, you can check out our interview with the creator of some of the best Jewish soul food in London, Monty's Deli.
Or bring Buchanan's Cheesemonger into your office with a few clicks on City Pantry instead.