“Does this still feel like an experiment?” asks Louise Chidgey’s friend. “In a way… there’s so much for us to get to know. But we’re here to stay, although it’s still a novelty and exciting being here.” Rolling up at their joint businesses, Louise Chidgey and Cass Titcombe have just dropped their son off for the day. Cass goes straight to the kitchen and Louise to the shop next door; together they run Brassica Restaurant and Mercantile in Beaminster Square.
For four days a week, and a couple of nights too, Louise can be found on the shop or restaurant floor. Life here is very different to London where Louise spent most of her working life. She was a buyer and advisor for The Conran Shop, Tom Conran Restaurants, Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, WGSN.com and trend forecasting as well as product development agency Stylus.com. Some say what Louise doesn’t know about design isn’t really worth knowing.
Bringing her passion for products to Dorset, she still buys direct from the producer rather than distributors. She searches daily for suppliers, ensuring she has new stock in every week, keeping her loyal customers keen to return. Louise loves looking for new things, she recently had a big shipment of ceramics from South Africa which is almost sold out, and has just placed an order for quilts in India, which she’ll have made into placemats. She tends to focus on items from further afield for the shop, whereas conversely, the restaurant next door focuses on local sources. However, she’s on the lookout for local craftsmen to help with projects—knitters at the moment.
Mondays are reserved for the three of them. The family loves to explore the countryside they now call home. Fishing for mackerel from the beach is a particular favourite, with Cass cooking up a dream with the proceeds of course.