Two chefs, Lise Kvan and Eric Monteleon, bought a van, fixed it up, named it Marcel and plotted their course for a cross-country adventure. Their purpose? A search for the abundance of France through its sustainable farming and the people preserving traditional methods of organic agriculture, animal husbandry, butchery, cheese-making, baking, smoking, and preserving. Though their journey continues, they’re making a quick stop in Paris this week for a special pop-up dinner at one of my favorite places in town, Cafe Mericourt (Reserve fast for April 11 and 12) using ingredients supplied by the producers they’ve met along their tour. You’ll also hear the duo on a forthcoming episode of The New Paris podcast.
Until then, Lise shares the back story behind their decision to hit the road with Bon Fond, who they’ve met so far and where you can find their goods in Paris.
As we packed our bags, organized the van, and drove away from the city, I knew I’d miss Paris. But the promise of meeting artisans and farmers across France was about to become a reality, a journey I had dreamt of since working at Astrance, a three-star Michelin restaurant in the 16th arrondissement in Paris. Every day, we would receive the most precious of ingredients, delivered to the restaurant doorstep, often by the producer themselves. To cook with the fruits of the producer’s labor was an honor and I yearned to see where the exquisite vegetables were grown, the tender meat was raised, or in which field the fragrant flowers had been foraged.
In January, after lots of handwork and planning, my partner, Eric, also a cook, and I set off to work with artisanal food producers and organic farmers to better understand their creations, motivations, ethics and standards. We’ve now been on the road for three months and have met fantastic, passionate individuals who are truly devoted to their craft.
Sharing our experiences is, without a doubt, one of our most important goals for our project, which we named Bon Fond. We knew that heaps of people would love to follow along on our journey and discover the savoir faire of the artisans with us. Each time we visit a producer, we document their production and their daily rituals, so people across the world can also understand why artisanal and organic production is vital to our ecosystem. We also want to give you the opportunity to taste all these brilliant flavors with us, too!
Here is our list of a few producers that we’ve visited thus far and where to find their products in Paris. Many producers also have international importers, so if you are determined to find that special product close to home, have a look on their individual websites. If you’d like to meet new French producers each week with us, follow along on Instagram and Facebook. We hope you enjoy these delights as much as we do.
1/ Cyril Zangs – Cidre 2 Table – Heirloom Normand Cider
We began our journey in Normandy with Cyril Zangs, a cider maker whose bubbly spirits are cult classics among the bistronomy scene with the likes of Septime, Le Mary Celeste, Elmer and L’Entrée des Artistes. Cyril makes his cider with heirloom apple varieties and uses several winemaking techniques to cultivate the finest expression of his Normand terroir. If you are new to cider or a connoisseur, you must try Cyril’s crisp, vibrant cider to fully comprehend the art of cider making. If you’re looking to buy a bottle for a picnic lunch or a dinner at home, several choice cavistes across Paris stock his limited edition bottles.
2/ Olivier Hélibert – Charcuterie Hélibert – Top 20 Best Charcutiers of France
Olivier and his wife Christine Hélibert make some of the best pâté, boudin, andouille and sausages in the country. No wonder the likes of Gault & Millau list them as one of the Top 20 Best Charcutiers of France. All their pigs are well-raised in Brittany, resulting in a succulent and flavourful product. We highly suggest tasting the Hélibert Saucisse d’Abers aux Algues (seaweed sausage, a nod to the stormy coasts of the Breton region) et pâté Breton at the Breizh Café at Odéon.
3/ Wilfrid Quinveros – Le Fumoir de Saint Cast – Cold Smoked Scallops
Wilfrid Quinveros is a highly inventive, savvy businessman who built his successful smoke house, Le Fumoir de Saint Cast, in a matter of a few years. Chefs across France were quickly seduced by his cold smoked scallops and his award-winning salmon, trout, and haddock. If you’d like to try the product in its purest form, Terra Gourma has a selection of Le Fumoir de Saint Cast’s seafood. And if you’d like to see what chefs create with his sublime gamme, Chef Marine Thomas at her restaurant Padam Padam in Montmartre will blow you away.
4/ Stephan Perrotte – Maison Perrotte – World Champion Jam maker
Stephan Perrotte’s preparations are such pure expressions of the fruit, with a lower quantity of sugar and pectine than traditional preparations, that he cannot even legally call his jam “confiture.” Throwing convention to the wind, Stephan’s jams have rocked the world and he consistently wins several gold medals each year at the Concours General Agricole, the most important food competition in France. He also custom makes jams for Michelin-starred chefs around the world. Our favorites include Pineapple Vanilla Rum, Apricot Timut Pepper, Palermo Mandarin, and Banana Vanilla Rhum. You can find his jams at select épiceries around Paris:
Opoa Epicerie, Saisons, Tricot, Maison Lillo, Comptoir des Producteurs, Black Kat Delicatessen, and Patisserie Plume.
5/ Françoise Fleuriet – La Conserverie de Fleuriet – Pineau des Charentes Vinegar
Françoise and Philippe Fleuriet are the only artisanal producers in the world to make Pineau des Charentes vinegar. Using the best four year old Pineau, which is a distilled and fortified grape aperitif, Françoise and Philippe make their vinegar in aged oak barrels, resulting in a floral vinegar – either white or red. They then use this vinegar to create divine condiments, like their barbecue sauce, ketchup, soups, or one of our favorites, their ginger sushi condiment. French chefs, like Thierry Marx, are hooked on their vinegar and won’t touch any other vinegar in the world. We suggest you don’t either. Their vinegars and condiments are available around Paris at establishments like Papa Sapiens, La Grande Epicerie de Paris, Epices Roellinger, and La Maison Plisson.