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Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop
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What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by

NatashaLS

Jun 28, 2022
9 minutes to read

Last year, thousands of our readers voted I.J. Mellis Cheesemongers in Edinburgh as their favourite cheese shop in the Great British Food Awards 2021. Here Rory Mellis – the director of the iconic Scottish cheesemonger - tells us why he’s on a mission to take the pretension out of buying artisan cheese

"When you visit one of our shops, you are welcomed by our cheesemongers as a member of our family"

Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop

We are a family business, and that spirit extends to our stores. When you visit one of our shops, you are welcomed by our cheesemongers as a member of our family, invited to taste our produce and given the best recommendations. Our customers have been with us for generations, and a handful of our staff were customers as children that have come to work for us 20 years later, which is so nice to be a part of. When you walk into any I.J. Mellis store, we want you to get that warm feeling and that sense of tradition and good customer service.

We also work so closely with cheesemakers that we take extra care to consider their needs as a small producer. In working with artisan and farmhouse produce, you learn to expect occasional changes or inconsistencies because the products are entirely handmade. We want our cheesemakers to know that we are invested in their product, and that means being flexible.

"We want to take the pretention and confusion out of buying cheese"

Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop

We know that buying cheese can feel daunting when there are so many incredible options, and we want to take the pretention and confusion out of it. Our cheesemongers are incredibly warm and knowledgeable. I would like to think that the readers know that every time they visit I.J. Mellis, they can expect to see a friendly face and leave with a delicious selection of cheese and accompaniments.

Our range is also very comprehensive – we represent the best of British and European cheeses, and we are always looking for new and exciting cheeses to add to our range.

"We were thrilled to be recognised by Great British Food readers as the best cheesemonger in Britain"

Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop

There are a number of fantastic cheesemongers that were considered for this award, so for me it was quite nice to feel recognised up here in Scotland, since the cheese world in England is so much larger.

We put in a significant effort into promoting Scottish cheese because we are a Scottish business, but we also work hard to promote English cheeses and share all of this incredible cheese with customers across the UK.

What makes I.J. Mellis special...

Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop

One of our most iconic cheeses is Bonnet, a mature goat’s milk cheese from Ayrshire. It has an unbelievably unique taste. We helped Ann develop the recipe back in the late ‘90s, and to this day we mature the cheese ourselves before distributing it. Bonnet has a cirtrussy start which mellows out into a more savoury/cheddar-like taste. It is crumbly when young buy as it matures, mellows out and becomes creamier in texture.

In 2021, we launched our own I.J. Mellis line of biscuits: Scottish oatcakes, digestives, buttermilk biscuits and shortbread to complement our line of jams and chutneys. We pride ourselves on sourcing the best ingredients from local producers so that customers know they are getting an excellent quality product. For example, our buttermilk biscuits are made with buttermilk from Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, where we get our beloved Baron Bigod Brie and Bungay Butter. All our products are connected and designed to complement each other. This year we are working on adding our own butter and olive oil to this range – stay tuned!

What should no visitor leave without?

Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop

A visit to the Cheese Lounge. Our Cheese Lounge was created in 2018 as a means to let people enjoy cheese after buying. It gradually gained popularity, and now we’re open seven days a week for lunch and four nights a week for dinner, offering great wine and better cheese. We hold weekly tastings in both our Glasgow and Morningside venues. If you’re visiting Scotland, I would highly recommend dining with us.

About I.J. Mellis Cheesemongers:

Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop

Since 1993, I.J. Mellis Cheesemongers have been Scotland’s premier purveyors of farmhouse and artisan cheese. We source cheese from the very best cheesemakers in the UK and Europe, often visiting them in person to collect our orders, which allows us to better communicate with them.

Many of our cheeses are matured by hand in our maturing rooms in Leith, and then distributed to our wholesale customers across Britain and sold in our five retail stores in Scotland. We also sell online, shipping all over the UK.

To vote for your favourite cheesemonger in this year's Great British Food Awards click here

Image for blog - What it takes to run Britain’s best cheese shop
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