Chef’s thanks for support after new business opens amid cancer diagnosis

Chef Charlie Hodson stands outside his delicatessen and cheese room in Aylsham.

Charlie Hodson at his new venture, Hodson & Co Cheese Room with Delicatessen at Aylsham. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A Norfolk chef who was diagnosed with cancer as he launched a new business says he has been overwhelmed with support since he revealed the news.

Charlie Hodson opened Hodson and Co: Cheese Room and Delicatessen in October, and was given a full diagnosis as he was refurbishing the shop in preparation for opening.

He has now had surgery and is awaiting the results of a biopsy, and said he is feeling positive, thanks in part due to the outpouring of support since his diagnosis.

“We opened in October and the pick-up was really, really good, the first week was amazing, better than expected, and then obviously at the same time I was diagnosed with cancer,” he said. “We thought ‘do we put everything on hold’, but my friends gathered round and said they were there and have given up their time to work in the shop.
“They have all rallied around to keep the shop open.”
But the kindness hasn’t stopped at his nearest and dearest - he said food suppliers had offered to be personal taxis, fellow chefs had phoned to voice their support and strangers had sent well-wishes.

Charlie Hodson leaning over the cheese counter in his new delicatessen in Aylsham.

Charlie Hodson inside his new venture, Hodson & Co Cheese Room with Delicatessen at Aylsham. - Credit: Denise Bradley

“The list is endless,” said, adding that he wanted the display of kindness to be at the heart of his business.

Mr Hodson said business at the delicatessen, on Red Lion Street in Aylsham, had been strong and that being behind the counter had been a welcome distraction.

The business has in part taken inspiration from a popular bakery which was once home in the same spot.

Geoff Harvey ran a bakery and delicatessen in the shop for more than three decades, before retiring at the end of 2007.

When setting up the shop, Mr Hodson found shelving and furniture previously used by Mr Harvey, and said he had designed the space to evoke memories of those days, including placing the counter in the same place.

With almost every item for sale behind the counter, Mr Hodson said it meant people could more easily start conversation and have a welcoming experience.

Mr Harvey, who started baking to ensure he worked close to his wife, said it was great to see the space back in use for food produce, and that he’d be popping by.

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