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Pick & Cheese: Behind the scenes at the world’s first cheese conveyor belt

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by


Jan 21, 2020
6 minutes to read
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Pick and Cheese, a new restaurant that’s part of the buzzy new Seven Dials food market in London’s Covent Garden, is turning the traditional cheese and wine bar on its head. Words: Heather Taylor

It’s the brainchild of Mathew Carver, the fromage-obsessed founder of The Cheese Bar, who made his name with the legendary grilled cheese sandwiches he started out serving from a street food stall in Camden Market. A permanent restaurant, The Cheese Bar, followed, and his latest opening earlier this year has cemented his reputation as a big cheese on the London food scene.

The restaurant’s crowning glory is the world’s first cheese conveyor belt, where an ever-changing roster of 25 cheeses, each paired with flavour-matched condiment, glide hypnotically past diners perched at the bar sipping natural wine. Think nutty Sparkenhoe Red Leicester with candied chilli peppers; tangy Cropwell Bishop stilton with a rich, oaty chocolate cookie, or soft and creamy Rollright with buttery braised leeks.

“The idea stemmed from the requests we get at our Camden flagship for customers to create their own cheese board. It allows people to choose their own plates, while we can ensure the cheese is served at the perfect temperature and with a unique paired condiment,” says Mathew.

As well as the now infamous cheese belt, there’s a short menu of hot plates, including the aforementioned grilled cheese toastie, with its golden, burnished outside and oozy, bubbling cheddar, spiked with sweet onions, within – it’s the dish The Cheese Bar has become known for.

“I think it’s been so popular because it literally suits any situation,” says Mathew. “Sunday brunch, as the best hangover cure, or in the middle of the night at a festival – there’s no circumstance in which a grilled cheese isn’t appropriate.”

At Pick and Cheese, this comfort food classic is elevated to new heights. “Ours stands out thanks to the quality of the ingredients,” says Mathew. “A grilled cheese isn’t rocket science, but if every element is of the highest possible quality, it becomes more than the sum of its parts.”

Careful sourcing is a crucial part of the approach. “We only sell British cheese, and we don’t work with any mass-producing dairies,” says Mathew. “We know a lot of our cheesemongers personally, and have a huge respect for their craft. We love sharing their stories with the world – so they need to be people and products we’re proud of.”

The success of The Cheese Bar is part of a growing food trend which sees diners seeking out simplicity, comfort and nostalgia in chaotic and uncertain times. “I think comfort food and carbs have always been a trend and will always be,” muses Mathew, “because they’re bloody delicious. While of course there’s been a rise in people looking for dairy-free alternatives, to me there’s nothing quite as satisfying as getting your cheese fix. There’s always a new ‘it’ dish to try, especially in London, but sometimes you just need to go back to basics.”

Simple it may be, but The Cheese Bar’s grilled cheese is anything but basic. Put it to the test yourself with the recipe below…

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Mathew Carver’s Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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