Henry Chevallier Guild – the British Food Expert, From Aspall to new adventures
Posted on November 19, 2017 by James
Launching Nonsuch Shrubs – the alcohol free alternative
Henry Chevallier Guild has already altered the landscape of English food and drink once. As co-creator of the famous Aspall cider brand “the champagne of cyders” he and his brother Barry elevated the traditional English drink, rooted in the rich history of his family and the Suffolk region to a sophisticated and elegant drink of choice.
Now Henry has developed the concept of “Shrubs”, launching in November 2017 – creating the first commercially available Shrub drink of its kind. ‘Nonsuch’ – a unique drink that reminds one of enjoying an alcoholic beverage but is completely alcohol free.
Derived from the Arabic word sharāb meaning “to drink”, Nonsuch shrubs combine fruit juices, spices and herb infused cider vinegars. This combination of ingredients creates a wonderful alternative to artificially sweet drinks and can be enjoyed when one fancies a refreshing premium drink that doesn’t necessarily have to contain alcohol
Henry’s background in creating unique flavor profiles means that Nonsuch Shrubs have exceptional taste combinations. And of course using the best ingredients means that Henry has incorporated his own renowned cyder vinegar.
Nonsuch will launch with three flavors; Peach and Basil, Blackcurrant and Juniper, and Sour Cherry and Garden Mint. Each can be enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif, and can also be matched successfully with food; be it an invigorating tomato salad, a sumptuous apple crumble or traditional roast lamb.
Shrubs are extremely versatile; their flavor range and combinations offer endless applications when you might not want to imbibe with alcohol, but nonetheless you do want to be rewarded and satisfied by your drinks choice. The key to their versatility is the unique combination of sweet, sour and savory that a shrub offers.
Henry says “This balance is SO important; if you’re not going to drink alcohol, you want a drink that at least (the getting light headed part aside) behaves like an alcoholic drink. A drink that you sip not glug, a drink that’s not so cloyingly sweet you get a sugar rush headache, a drink that has diuretic tendencies and doesn’t bloat you.”
A historical wonder is what drives Henry Chevallier Guild – an all-round expert in food and drink, he is knowledgeable and incorrigibly inquisitive. His spectrum of expertise can range from explaining why it was the English and not the French who really originated the technique of in-bottle fermentation later known as méthode champenoise, to how the humble apple arrived on these shores all the way from Uzbekistan and even how British cuisine has changed over the centuries and what caused this change.
In the ever-changing food trend climate, we need people like Henry Chevallier Guild who can make us stop, look, listen and taste and expand our knowledge on why these changes are happening and give the substance to the story – after all, as Henry says “What we eat and drink is indivisible from how we live,” he says. “Through new ways of doing things we can rediscover lost traditions, create new ideas and really take responsibility for our world.”
Notes to Editors:
Henry Chevallier Guild Bio:
After graduating at Oxford Polytechnic Henry started at Aspall in 1993. During his first 18 months in the business, Henry worked in every department before taking on the management of the factory and its production for the next 10 years. His brother Barry took over the sales department and together they began broadening Aspall’s horizons from its Suffolk heartland. The brothers relaunched the vinegar brand in 1995 and then spent 7 years creating their Premier Cru Cyder, as well as other signature ranges
His is a unique personal perspective based on long history of the Chevallier family, which goes back to Rollo, first Duke of Normandy in the tenth century AD. The family are Plantagenets: William the Conqueror is Henry’s first cousin 28 times removed and his 26-times-great grandfather is Henry I. “Because Richard III was carried off at Bosworth Field we’re no closer to the throne than anyone else in the country,” he admits with a smile, “but we’re quite proud of it all the same.”
When Henry’s ancestor Clement Chevallier inherited Aspall Hall in 1722 he brought his cyder-making skills from the family’s home in Jersey to the East of England. The locals thought he was mad to plant apples in an area known for field crops, but the mix of Clement’s produce and the region’s native sour apples produced a cyder with a more assertive, individual quality. Nearly 300 years later, when Henry and his brother Barry relaunched Aspall cyder for a new generation, they discovered Clement’s recipes up at Aspall Hall.
Nobody has ever assumed that Henry would enter the family business. After education at Uppingham and Oxford Polytechnic, he traveled for three years through America, South Africa, Hong Kong and Thailand. He narrowly evaded the Khmer Rouge in newly-opened Cambodia and got stuck in a Sikh gurdwara in the Punjab at the height of the Muslim-Hindu violence of the early 90s. “The soldiers kept telling me it was far too dangerous to leave,” he says, “but I think they just enjoyed the novelty of having an Englishman to drink whiskey with.”
Travel broadens the mind but it can also concentrate the attention. When Henry returned to Aspall after three years of “properly growing up,” he understood that the local is just as important as the faraway and the distant. “If you’re always looking over the hill, what are you chasing?” he wonders. “I realised that I was incredibly fortunate to have an amazing place to come back to. I realised how lucky I was.”
Henry immersed himself in the minutiae of cyder lore, developing new lines for Aspall that drew on the family’s heritage. Now he applies that same questing spirit to new adventures in food, drink and more. A raconteur possessed by an insatiable spirit of enquiry, Henry Chevallier Guild is a true English gentleman on an endless mission of discovery.
For more information or if you want to request samples or interviews please contact
26 Ganton Street
T: +44 (0)207 439 9127
M: +44 (0)7951 966 578
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