Team Stratford were all thrilled to hear the news and we continue to look forward to talking cheese with our loyal customers and seeing new faces in the shop.


It all started back in sunny July when the opportunity to take part in a promotion run by The Guild of Fine Food Retailers and sponsored by Le Gruyère AOP appeared.  This year, we were so looking forward to taking part as having been runners up in 2015, we were keen to give it our best shot for 2016!

To enter is simple – run a promotion on Gruyere (given it’s a firm favourite on our counter, this was no trouble!), take two photographs of the interior of the shop and complete a questionnaire. Any shop with a cheese counter can enter this so there can be hundreds of entries. Over the next couple of months, the entries are mulled over and whittled down to a final shortlist of just 10 cheese counters – it’s a fantastic achievement to just be shortlisted! The top 10 are then each visited by one of the judges – head judge Patrick McGuigan called in to see us in Stratford Upon Avon. This visit provided us with the opportunity to demonstrate the hard work that takes place seven days a week by the team. It was a real pleasure talking to a fellow Curd Nerd aka Patrick McGuigan as we browsed the counter and talked all things cheese. 

After the shortlisted counters have been visited, the judges debate and eventually pick out the overall winner – in 2016 this was announced at The Great Taste Golden Forks Dinner on Monday 5 September at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. I was lucky enough to be invited to the event which was a real honour and pleasure – popping on a dress certainly made a change to my normal attire of whites and an apron! 

The Golden Forks dinner provided a fantastic opportunity to network with fellow foodies and of course there was a delicious meal provided on the night. The awards were announced throughout the evening and it was rather nerve-racking waiting to hear the results for Cheese Counter of the Year; especially with having Ros Windsor, Managing Director, and Jeremy Bowen, Sales Manager, in the room (though their support and encouragement was very much appreciated!!) Eventually the time came and the results were read out starting with joint third - La Cave a Fromage, Hove, and The Pangbourne Cheese Shop, Reading, then second - The Cheese Society, Lincoln and then the moment I (and the team) had been waiting for; first place goes to Paxton & Whitfield, Stratford Upon Avon. I was simply over the moon as I made my way to the stage to collect the award from Helen Daysh and haven’t stopped smiling since! 

Team Stratford were all thrilled to hear the news and we continue to look forward to talking cheese with our loyal customers and seeing new faces in the shop.


Clare’s win at the Guild of Fine Food’s Cheese Counter of the Year competition, sponsored by Le Gruyere follows other successes for Paxton & Whitfield:

Paxton & Whitfield Jermyn Street

  • Winner of Cheese Counter of the Year, 2012
  • Winner of Cheesemonger of the Year, 2012
  • Runner up of both competitions in 2013

Paxton & Whitfield Bath

  • Shortlisted for Cheese Counter of the Year, 2014

Paxton & Whitfield Stratford

  • Runner up Cheese Counter of the Year, 2015
  • Winner Cheese Counter of the Year, 2016