Arthur Cunynghame Roads travelled
Wine Merchant – Cheesemonger – Author – Publisher – Designer
The road to Loose Chippings has taken me via my first career in the wine trade, a second as a cheesemonger and now a third in publishing and design.
A winding road which has eventually brought me closer to the career I wanted when I left school: to direct films. I imagine this ambition was born partly as a result of my father’s business involvement with Alexander Korda, the great Hungarian producer, and my mother’s acting career under her maiden name, Pamela Stanley.
Having failed to get my break in films I agreed to ‘help out’ my brother, John, at a company that was really a vehicle for any business which might profitably be undertaken: selling steel to Greece, dealing with the Saudis, marketing pneumatic tools, and wine!
After a year or so John and I bought the wine business. I was determined not to have a desk job and was happy enough for a time assembling and delivering orders and doing a bit of everything. It was good fun and what a way to learn about the business. Later I moved on to running various sections of the company and, after nearly 20 years, we were approached by the hotel giant, Trusthouse Forte and sold the company to them. It was the first time I had worked for a large company and I soon decided to look elsewhere for a new venture.
I bought a cheese business at the end of the 1980’s, enrolled in night classes to learn the basics of cheesemaking and got stuck in. After a couple of years expanding the business I had the opportunity to buy the venerable old firm of Paxton & Whitfield, which was going through something of a lean patch. We built the business and Paxton & Whitfield became, once more, respected for its quality and I was granted the honour of three Royal Warrants of Appointment as cheesemonger to HM The Queen, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and HRH the Prince of Wales.
Living in the present
One day a good offer came out of the blue to buy the cheese business; I accepted and moved on to my third career when I set up Loose Chippings, which I find absorbing and rewarding, constantly throwing up new challenges as clients each bring their own requirements to a project.
I have always enjoyed and benefited from industry associations and qualifications within the fields in which I have worked. I am a Past Chairman of The Specialist Cheesemakers’ Association, a Chevalier du Tastevin of Burgundy, a Chevalier de Bordeaux, a Chevalier du Taste-Fromage de France. I hold Diplomas from The United Kingdom Cheese Guild and The Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
I have made a number of TV and Radio appearances including Newsnight, The Today Programme, Richard & Judy, You & Yours, Sky News, and Farming Today. Press coverage has included The Independent, The Sun, Good Food Retailing, The Ecologist, The Daily Express and The Independent on Sunday. I have written a book about cheese and wine, as well as numerous articles.
Loose Chippings is part of the business community in Chipping Campden and, in 2013, with others, I set up The Campden Business Forum.
Though by no stretch of the imagination a musician, music has played an important part in my life whether live or recorded. I have enjoyed many live performances from Led Zeppelin to the Takacs Quartet and love finding new recorded music that often inspires.