Here at The Blacksmith’s Loft Restaurant, we specialise in offering freshly-cooked food, prepared from locally-sourced ingredients. As you’d expect, the quality of our produce is key, so Head Chef Andy Ellis hand-picks our suppliers himself and visits them regularly to get to know them better and find out about their latest produce.

In February, Andy and our Restaurant Manager, Lesley King, paid our new cheese supplier, La Fanfinette, a visit to discover what they have to offer. Owned and run by Valerie Laroumedie, La Fanfinette is a specialist delicatessen based in Derby Market Hall. Valerie’s produce includes cured meats, patés, homemade soups, breads and biscuits – but she’s probably best-known (and loved) for her amazing selection of British and French cheeses.

‘Valerie certainly knows a thing or two about cheese,’ says Andy. ‘And it’s one of my own favourite ingredients, so we were soon getting on famously – discussing seasonality, specialist wines to go with cheese…even swapping recipes for home-made chutneys and potted partridge! Despite the difference in our backgrounds, our shared passion for great quality food made me feel like we’d known each other for years.’

Valerie is originally from the Dordogne in south west France and moved to the UK to work in the food and drink industry. After almost 25 years, she followed her dream by setting up her own delicatessen, named after her grandmother, whose nickname was La Fanfinette. Aided by her own expertise and that of her husband – a Michelin-starred chef who ran his own Chateau for 15 years – Valerie set about stocking fine British and continental cheeses, and a range of artisan and local deli goods that can be hard to find in the UK.

Andy was certainly impressed by what he found at La Fanfinette. After trying several cheeses, he bought some of the very best to complement his current dishes on The Blacksmith’s Loft menu and provide inspiration for our forthcoming spring menu.