Alex Te-Strote: a master monger and our king of wholesale

Alex Te-StroteThe countryside and food production have always played a large part in my life. I grew up in rural Northamptonshire in an era of post war agricultural policies. I went to school with the children of local farmers, played in their fields and watched as more & more production was squeezed from them.

At home, food was a big part of family life, we grew our own vegetables, swapped them for game from the local poacher, and bought eggs from the local farm. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the back doorstep with my father as he showed me how to skin a rabbit. During the 70’s & 80’s when convenience foods were growing in popularity I almost instinctively felt that artificially manufactured foodstuffs could not be as healthy as natures bounty.

At this time I was at catering college and the food science parts of the course both fascinated me & reinforced my theories, and it was at this time that I started to take nutrition seriously. I spent 35yrs in the hotel & restaurant business, mostly at the coal face (kitchen), and had two attempts at running a restaurant business which enabled me to source local, natural, chemical free foods. Unfortunately I was about 10-15 yrs ahead of the general populace with this thinking, and although I made many good friends & met amazing producers, I failed to make much money with this uncompromising approach.

My bottom line? We have one body, every cell is constantly being renewed, what we put in our mouths are the building blocks for that, so give your body the best.

It was whilst running the first restaurant in S. Wales that I met a couple who were passionate about cheese. They ran a little cheese shop in Cardiff called Huxleys (named after their Old English sheepdog) and they started putting together cheeseboards for me, selecting whichever cheeses were at their peak & writing poetically descriptive labels to attach. The residue of those boards often ended up as my supper, & the labels my chill out reading.

Thus began my love affair with artisan cheese.

After latterly running the speciality department at the now defunct Fresh & Wild store in Bristol, I have somehow managed to once again become ensnared in the cheese trap. Trethowans’ ethos chimes in synchronisity with the values I have developed over the years, and I am grateful to them for allowing me to close the loop by persuading other chefs & food businesses to understand that artisan food is good for us, the countryside, the economy & thus their business. And they taste wonderful.

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