Nicholas Saunders was a pioneer of the wholefood movement and the man behind the development of Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.
Set up in 1979, Saunders helped to finance a whole food empire in a dilapidated Covent Garden courtyard that was scheduled for demolition. Saunders helped finance a co-operative bakery, flour mill, apothecary, cafe and dairy of which he had intended on marketing his own goat’s cheese and Greek-yoghurt.
Business was slow, and within a year Randolph Hodgson who had been involved in the dairy selling fresh cheeses, yoghurts and creme fraiche made on the premise, took ownership and decided to diversify after receiving some cheddar from a cheesemaker in Devon in the post. After visiting her as well as many other cheese-makers in the country, Hodgson returned with a car full of cheese and saw that he could do more by connecting urban consumers with rural cheese producers; selecting, maturing and selling farmhouse cheeses from around the UK and Ireland.
Today, Jason Hinds is the current sales director and owner of Neal’s Yard Diary and continues to work closely with around 40 cheesemakers, carefully tasting and selecting batches of cheese that are to be matured for selling.
“Amongst the cheeses there is a great deal of variability. Cheese can change hugely, depending on how it is treated. We have a range of temperature and humidity controlled maturation facilities at our warehouse in London, run by a team who are dedicated to ensuring that we sell our cheese at its best. As the cheese is maturing we continue to taste through the stock to ensure we are aware of how it is developing over time”, J. Hinds NYD.
When the cheeses are ready they are sold in one of the three cheese shops in London, online, at events around the country and via wholesale trade throughout the UK and internationally.