Our cheese making kits are stocked in a wide range of shops up and down the country and there’s nothing we enjoy more than visiting our stockists, listening to their stories, and learning more about the local cheeses. We recently had a chat with Fiona Kay, owner of our local specialist cheese shop Cheese Please in Lewes, East Sussex.
So why a cheese shop Fiona? I left teaching because I was having problems with my voice and looked to start my own business, I wanted something I could really get my teeth in to and saw a gap in the market in Lewes. Other than another small stall in the town, there was nowhere to buy good quality cheese all year round so there was definitely room for a quality specialist shop. Lewes is a lovely market town which has a lot of quality independent shops, it’s where I live and I enjoy providing a good service to the local community.
How long has Cheese Please been trading? We have been trading for 10 years and have 2 full-time staff. We are now well established and offer talks, wedding cakes, tasting evenings, and join with Harvey’s, the towns brewery, to host cheese and beer and wine tasting events.
When is your busiest time? Aside from Christmas, bank holidays are always busy times, when families and friends get together. Bonfire night is a huge event in Lewes and so also a busy time for us. Strong cheddars and hot, spicy cheeses are always in high demand for bonfire night celebrations.
When is your favourite time in the shop? Most definitely Friday and Saturdays, those are the busiest days of the week and I love the buzz of the shop. My favourite time of the year is Christmas, again the shop is buzzing and our customers are jolly too.
Which is your most popular cheese? Currently it’s a goat’s cheese called “Golden Cross” made by Golden Cross Cheese Company. Their cheeses are always very popular.
…and which cheese is your personal favourite? It has to be Flower Marie, a raw milk sheep’s cheese made by the Golden Cross Cheese Company. Flower Marie has very delicate flavours and a beautiful texture, it’s also an ‘Super Gold Winner’ at the World Cheese Awards 2015 and is always popular when we have it in stock.
Have you noticed any trends in cheese purchases? Over the past few years there has been a definite rise in customers with lactose intolerance and sensitivity to cow’s milk. Customers are opting for cheeses made from goats, sheep and buffalo milk.
Why do you stock our cheese making kits? I think they are a brilliant concept. There’s something very special about eating cheese you’ve made yourself, and of course they’re lots of fun!
How are the cheese making kits received by your customers? They think they are a brilliant idea and straight away can think of somebody, (and quite often more than one person) who would enjoy making cheese – they make great birthday and Christmas presents and are great sellers at Christmas. It’s not unusual for customers to buy one of each type.
Do you have a grand vision for Cheese Please? I would love to open a bistro serving brunch, lunch and early evening cheese and charcuterie platters, … if only I were 10 years younger!