Bloc – Artisan Cheese Delivered To YOur Door
Laura Devine has always loved cheese. When put on furlough during Lockdown1 in April 2020, she started thinking about a business where she delivered delicious cheeses to other cheese lovers. Bloc was born. She started with a Father’s Day box and was blown away by the response. At a time when people couldn’t go out, delivering boxes of unusual cheeses really worked. Now that things are back to ‘live before Covid’ the business model has adapted and grown into catering for births, marriages and funerals, and a whole lot more. Folkelife caught up with Laura to find out more about cheese.
“I’ve lived in Folkestone all my life. I’ve also always been in sales, starting in Saga and then onto selling the most luxurious of item – sewage pipes – in the construction industry! When I was furloughed in April 2020 it gave me an opportunity. I love cheese far to much really, and had been looking around at what others were doing in terms of delivering good cheese selections for weddings, parties and so on.”
boxes of cheese
“The grazing boxes we started with are still a key part of what I do. I love delivering these to local customers who want a treat. They will always be part of my business, but when we came out of Covid, people started to meet up again and so it made sense to expand into this area.
“People like something different. And people love cheese! The thought of a wedding cake that is layers of different rounds of cheeses has appealed to lots of people. Our grazing tables add more than just cheese too. We have the vegan options – with delicious vegan cheeses – and then the meat lovers area too. I add in garlands of grapes and other fruit that compliment the cheese, such as figs, tomatoes, olives and so on.”
“Since the start my mum has been a key part of the business. She makes chili jams and chutneys that are on the tables too. We’ve got to the point that they’re really a staple part of our offering so she can’t stop. I did offer to help her the other day, you know, get enough stock made for Christmas, but she was worried it wouldn’t then be Mama Bloc. It’s ok. That’s what it will always be. I think my Step-Dad is beginning to want his house back though…”
vegan and vegetarian cheese
“The response has been quite overwhelming. There’s a great need for cheeses to suit all types and I want to offer local or regional options where possible. Some of the vegan cheese is really delicious, in a totally different league to what you’d find in a supermarket. I want to give vegans a different selection to what they might usually be eating. There are some beautiful artisan vegan cheeses that have great a flavour to them.
“I’ve been running the business since 2020 and I’m always discovering new cheeses. It’s lucky I like cheese. Our daughter does too although there was a moment when I was weaning her where she gagged on some cauliflower cheese. I thought, oh, if you’re not going to like cheese I’m not sure we can be friends. But luckily she loves cheese so we don’t need to worry!”
“I love the opportunity of being at the Folkestone Festive Marketplace at the Harbour. Our little hut there has been so busy. We’ve sold out of chutneys most days and cheeses too. I think I might make choosing the right cheese difficult because I don’t just leave these cheeses for ‘best’, you know, for that nice treat. I use these cheeses daily, in pastas, cheese on toast, cauliflower cheese etc. So when people try something I always tell them what I’ve been using it for and then it becomes really difficult to make that choice as to which cheese you need right now. We’ll be there until Christmas so you can always come back for more!
“People always ask what my favourite cheese is and that’s a difficult one. I love finding artisan cheeses to introduce to people but I also love a slice of Saint Agur which is available in most supermarkets. I’m a little embarrassed to say I like it, but it’s so good!”
Births, Marriages and Funerals
“It’s been wonderful to expand the business to cater for people’s special occasions. I love being a part of that moment. I also love being able to take the stress away from people at these times too. They can be incredibly stressful, so if you know that you’re going to have someone bring along a great spread of cheese, biscuits, charcuterie, fruit, jams etc, and you don’t have to think about it, it does help. The largest group I’ve catered for at the moment is around 150, and that was fun. My mum, husband, best friend and cousin help me so we keep it in the family. Plus cheese suits every occasion too! If it’s for comfort eating or being a bit decadent, I can help!
“The business grew beyond anything I had first imagined and so we took on an industrial unit to ease the pressure at home. We were expecting our baby and thought we ought to give her some space too, not just squeeze her in between some cheese boxes! Now we’re looking at new spaces to work from with all the ideas we have for 2024. Some things are little tweaks to existing offers we have, and some are brand new ideas. It’s great to be a part of something that’s not limited, well, only limited by the hours in the day, but other than that we can do anything we want!”