The Wordrobe gets up close and professional with Mathew Carver, founder of cheese conveyor belt restaurant Pick & Cheese
Always hungry for the next big ‘cheesy’ consumer experience, Mathew Carver has paved a way for himself in the London hospitality industry with his unique brand of artisan comfort food indulgences.
Having previously launched The Cheese Bar and The Cheese Truck, Carver has served up another slice of foodie action with Pick & Cheese, the UK’s first cheese conveyor belt restaurant.
Editor Sophie Ritchie spoke with him to find out more about the fun new concept – as well as his tips for entrepreneurial success.
Tell us more about your career journey so far – how did you get into the industry?
I started out in furniture design, but soon realised life behind a desk wasn’t for me. I took a trip to the US, and became inspired by their cheese scene, which is similar to the craft beer scene over here.
When I got back to the UK, I started doing research into British cheese, and realised what an amazing industry it really was! Thus, The Cheese Truck was born, as a way to promote all things British cheese.
Pick & Cheese is quite the game changer. What was the inspiration behind the concept?
In our Camden restaurant, our customers always want to pick different cheeses from our house list, and create their own cheeseboard.
It’s pretty hard to do, as you’d need to have each cheese out and ready to serve at room temperature, on the off chance someone picked them.
We wanted to come up with a way to offer this kind of bespoke experience, whilst showcasing the cheeses at their very best, and shaking up the idea of a traditional cheese and wine bar!
Tell us more about what guests can expect from a visit… how does it work?
It works the same as a sushi bar, essentially. Cheese plates are priced by their colour, and each cheese comes with its own unique pairing.
At the end, your waiter will come and tally up your plates to figure out your bill.
What makes an exceptional UK cheese in your opinion?
First and foremost, it must be delicious. For us this means it has a complex and well-balanced flavour that persists and evolves on the palate long after eating.
It must also be distinctive, there’s no mistaking the yogurty tang and appetising crumble of a Kirkham’s Lancashire or the meaty, mushroomy ooze of a Baron Bigod. We are always looking for new and innovative products whilst also celebrating the rich cheese heritage we have here in the UK.
As a foodie founder, what advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’d say it’s important to be original, don’t get complacent and put your people first.
I think too many businesses don’t evolve what they do or spend enough time thinking about their customers’ needs and expectations.
Putting people first is something we’ve learnt going from a team of three to a team of over thirty! Our staff are a huge asset – we couldn’t do what we do without them.
Name three of your favourite cheese and wine pairings.
At the moment, I’m really enjoying our Petillant Naturel by Fuchs und Hase with Rachel, a goat’s cheese by White Lake Cheese in Somerset; Spenwood, by Village Maid in Berkshire with our Verdicchio by Ciu Ciu; and our Cruz del Mar Cream Sherry with pretty much anything, but especially Cropwell Bishop Creamery’s Beauvale blue cheese.
Do you have a favourite cheese variety?
Not really, it’s hard to pick a favourite! Although I do have a real soft spot for washed rind cheeses, we’ve had some incredible new ones being produced in the UK over the last few years including Rollright by Kingstone Dairy, Renegade Monk by Felthams Farm and Highmoor by Nettlebed Creamery.
What’s next on the cards?
We’re opening another restaurant at the beginning of next year, we haven’t released much information yet but it’s going to be fairly different again to what we’ve done so far!
It’s a really interesting project that we’ve been working on for the past year so excited to see it come to life.