The Pangbourne Cheese Shop has been named Cheese Counter of the Year, sponsored by Le Gruyère AOP, at the 30th edition of the World Cheese Awards. The Berkshire retailer came in third place in last year’s instalment of the annual competition but a recent refurbishment of the shop and an update of its branding have paid dividends, as it beat second-placed The Fine Cheese Co branch in London’s Belgravia to the top spot. Third place went to Nottingham’s The Cheese Shop, while a further seven shops were on the a 10-strong shortlist compiled by the judging team, led by cheese writer Patrick McGuigan.
The judges were impressed with the amount of work The Pangbourne Cheese Shop owners Jen and Ali Grimstone-Jones had carried out in the last 12 months, both to the actual shop and in developing business with local restaurants and online sales. “Independent retailers can find it hard to compete against the big supermarkets on the high street, but The Pangbourne Cheese Shop is a shining example of how small shops can be successful if they play to their strengths,” said Patrick McGuigan. “Lovely customer service, a fantastic line-up of artisan cheeses in tip-top condition and plenty of knowledge and enthusiasm behind the counter all create a rather special experience.
“If only every high street had a cheesemonger like this, the world would be a better place.” Wherever Jen and Ali can, they pick up their cheese direct from the producers, enabling them to get to know the story around each cheese.
“Our fabulous cheese-makers are incredibly talented and dedicated to producing stunning cheeses” said Jen, “Many of them have their own herds so work 7 days a week, making cheeses using traditional methods in small vats”.
Recently the shop has also gone online at www.cheese-etc.co.uk , so that its cheeses can reach a wider audience. Cheese is sent by courier around the country whilst free delivery is offered every Thursday to areas including Reading, Newbury, Thatcham and nearby villages. Jen and Ali Grimstone-Jones collected the trophy at the World Cheese Awards 30th anniversary reception, held at Tobacco Dock, London on Friday 17th November.
The Pangbourne Cheese Shop Ltd, 17 Reading Road, Pangbourne, Reading RG8 7LU, 0118 984 3323.