Noel Stopien has turned his passion for French food and wine into a successful delicatessen which he runs with his son Nicholas. Deliciously French is situated on Station Hill in Cookham where you can find treats from across the English Channel, including cheese, wine and charcuterie goods.
“French food is my passion,” says Noel. “I’m half-French, half-English and I spent a long time in France. When I came back I couldn’t find the food I wanted. I like food and wine, I had made lots of contacts out in France and I decided back in 1999 to open my shop.”
Noel visits France regularly where he searches out the finest food and drink our neighbour has to offer.
He explains: “I only work with people who know what they’re doing. A lot of our products are found in top restaurants, it just thrills me. You meet great people and discover new products, new ways of eating food.
“All the produce comes directly from France. We don’t go to the wholesalers, I buy directly. That way we can be competitive – our customers are counting their pennies in this recession. We are busy enough that we can buy direct. We have big, big deliveries. Our last two deliveries had three-quarters of a tonne of cheese on each one.
Noel continues: “I believe that today you have to specialise in whatever you do. People will come to the shop because it’s French; if they didn’t like French [goods] they wouldn’t come here. If they don’t find what they are looking for I can get it, customers can order specific products that we don’t stock here but we can bring over.
If you don’t have the opportunity to visit Deiciously French in Cookham, you will find Noel and Nicholas at Reading’s Bastille Day celebrations this year, which is returning to Forbury Gardens over the weekend of July 11 and 12. Plans include a market that showcases both the best of British and French cuisine.
Noel says: “We supported the Bastille Day market last year and we’ll be doing it again. It’s a great way of meeting our customers and the weekend is just great fun.”
You can visit Deliciously French at 47 Station Parade, Station Hill, Cookham, near Maidenhead SL6 9BR, call 01628 819114 or log on to its website, which includes an online store.