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Meat with a French Accent from Fabrique Delices

By Lorrie Baumann

FabriqueDelices_CharcuterieBoard5With more than 100 different cooked and cured charcuterie products, including pates, mousses, duck confit and duck rillettes, as well as sausages and boudins, Fabrique Délices has earned its place as one of the USA’s premier producers of artisanal French-style meat products.

“We do products for chefs to cook with and products that are ready to serve,” says Sébastien Espinasse, Fabrique Délices’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “We believe that if we do quality food, the chef will recognize that and put their stamp on the product. They put our food on their menu, and that is a big recognition to us…. When you come from a foreign country to the U.S., when you have a French restaurant, you try to recreate the food you had at home, and the most important part is to find the ingredients.”

Fabrique Délices makes all of its products in California’s Bay Area, from pork that comes from Iowa, chicken from Mary’s Free Range Chickens and pasture-raised lamb from New Zealand. “The recipes are traditional and authentic. We are not trying to Americanize the product, to tweak the recipe to suit American tastes so we can sell more product,” Espinasse says. “This is the closest to French tradition you can find in the U.S. We want to keep doing it.”

FabriqueDelices_RillettesAmerica’s free-wheeling food culture that allows for fusions like kosher Korean tacos and barbecue brisket banh mi might tempt other meat processors to innovate their recipes to create products that would be unrecognizable to Fabrique Delices’ founders, who started the company in 1989 as a subsidiary of French pate producer SAPAR, which was established in Me aux, France, in 1920. But Fabrique Délices has stayed true to its original mission to recreate traditional French charcuterie in the United States, Espinasse says. “We don’t want to compromise the product. This is our identity,” he says. “The market is so wide open that sometimes you can lose your head and do many things, but at the end of the day, you need to keep your focus and do what you do best…. Mostly what we try to do is whenever we put a recipe together, you put the protein in your mouth, and it goes up in your head, and it brings back memories of your childhood with the flavor, and if the flavor is approved by your mind, then you say, ‘This is what we need.’ We grew up with these products so it is very important to keep it like this.”

“We don’t use preservatives, artificial ingredients, MSG, any of that,” he adds. “We use the real spices, no extracts. Sometimes you can have some variation: when you use cayenne pepper, sometimes there is variation from one year to the other, and sometimes people notice it. In the U.S., people are very sensitive to change. Artisan products, sometimes this is the way it is.”

Authenticity and quality are so important to Espinasse that he’s now organizing an American Charcuterie Society to promote those values. “I’m going to try to push it through and get some retailers, some distributors, manufacturers, maybe put a party together and try to move forward,” he says. “We are a group of people and we are going to try to move this forward because we need to grow the charcuterie industry, and the only way we can grow charcuterie is for the whole industry together.”

Those who are interested in being part of the American Charcuterie Society should contact Espinasse at sebastien@charcuteriesociety.org.

Get Crazy About Walnuts with Crazy Go Nuts

By Lorrie Baumann

Crazy Go Nuts offers a line of flavorful coated walnuts with front-of-package labeling them as “loaded with Omega 3s.” Walnuts in general have more Omega 3s per ounce than salmon, according to CMO Courtney Carini. They’re coated in all natural foods. “When you see ‘banana,’ that’s actually banana,” she says.

It’s ALA, and it’s the density of Omega 3s that counts. “Flaxseed has more, but nobody eats an ounce of flaxseed,” says David Wolfe, co-Founder and CEO. “Our main thing is clean labels and simple ingredients. More and more consumers are demanding that, and because walnuts are so healthy, we try not to weigh them down with nonsense.”

All Jars_shadow“We try not to ride solely on health benefits,” adds Carini. “Walnuts are so delicious, and we want people to enjoy them.”

There are currently nine flavors of the nuts: Banana, Orange, Coconut, Chocolate Espresso, Oatmeal Cookie, Garlic Parmesan, Buffalo, Rosemary Pink Salt and a plain salted flavor that’s slightly mis-labeled “Boring.”

Banana Walnuts_shadowNuts are packaged in three sizes: 1.5-ounce grab and go, 4.5-ounce and an 8-ounce resealable bag for the pantry. They retail for $6.99 for the 8-ounce bag, $4.49 for the 4.5-ounce bag and $1.99 for the 1.5-ounce bag.

All the same flavors are offered in jarred butters, except that there, the Rosemary Pink Salt becomes Sage and Rosemary. All of the butters are low sugar. “Our goal is always to have the cleanest ingredients and the simplest flavors,” says Wolfe. These are packaged in 9-ounce jars that retail for $6.99.

Both the butters and the packaged nuts will work as an accompaniment for a cheese platter, and most of the butters will work as a smoothie ingredient as well as a spread. They’re currently sold in specialty retailers around the country, with large retailer distribution starting this fall in California and then spreading from there.

The company has been in operation for four years, but expanded into a new production facility in central California late last year. “We’ve been learning and getting better ever since, but we’re still new,” Wolfe says. “We have significant capacity, but we haven’t been in business for 30 years, and we’re just hitting our stride…. There’s a lot of interest in the brand. It’s being described as ‘whimsical.’ It’s not a word that I would use, but it represents us pretty well.”

The company started as “a whim” in Los Angeles, with two people managing it out of an apartment, and has grown from there. “We started going to Walnut Board meetings,” Wolfe says, and “We met with several different companies that were interested in investing in us and helping us grow.” That investment helped them grow from their farmers market cottage industry into the new production facility that has enabled them to scale the business to the point at which they’re ready to venture onto the national market.

For more information, email sales@cgnwalnuts.com or info@cgnwalnuts.com.

Roam, Roam on the Range

By Lorrie Baumann

Jonathan SeppWhen Jonathan Sepp left the Air Force after completing his obligation to Uncle Sam for his U.S. Air Force Academy college education, he rediscovered a dream that had been with him since he first saw bison grazing on South Dakota rangeland during a cross-country vacation trip with his parents. “That animal in particular had a magnetic draw,” he says. “After my commitment was done, I could have stayed in the Air Force, but it’s not what I wanted to do.”

IMG_2993That dream is now being realized as a Montana bison ranch and a brand of bison jerky that he launched in July with a cross-country tour of his own, this time pulling an Airstream trailer that he’s decked out as a kind of tiny museum on wheels. The museum is a small series of multimedia exhibits that explain how bison help regenerate a landscape by trampling down encroaching sagebrush, leaving behind hoof prints that act as small catchment basins that trap small amounts of moisture to water the seeds of the surrounding grasses. Since no museum is really complete without a gift shop, at the end of his line of exhibits, there’s a rack on which he’s offering packages of his Roam Free bison jerky for sale.

While the bison jerky is brand new, the Roam Free ranch, situated on 240 acres on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana, is nearly four years old. “The only place we could afford to start was on the reservation and in a gulch,” he says.

IMG_6422Even though he recognized that the scrubby, overgrazed land he could afford wasn’t the best, he didn’t start out knowing much about how to fix that. “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just ground. You just turn the animals out,’” he says. He didn’t know how to look at grass; he didn’t know much about water; but he figured out in a hurry that he’d better learn or he wasn’t going to last. “Weed education is where I started,” he says.

He started talking to experts in bioregenerative agriculture – the people who could tell him how to take an overgrazed piece of grassland and increase its productivity. “It’s a science. It really is a science,” he says. “We run into a problem and talk to experts, and they help us fix that – and you get better next year.”

IMG_5948The small successes he’s having on his own ranch made him passionate about sharing what he’s learning with others. Spreading the word is key to ensuring that the market for bison meat stays strong, he believes. The roaming museum in the Airstream is the result of that kind of thinking. It’s been nine months in development. “There has to be education in a simple context, and you have to educate people to understand what they’re eating and why it’s healthier,” Sepp says. “We took every cent we had in the ranch to do this.”

The Roam Free jerky that’s for sale at the end of the row of exhibits is offered in four flavors: Wood-Fired Pizza, Original, Thai Chili Ginger and Moroccan Heat. Another two flavors, Sweet Berry BBQ and Morning Maple, are coming soon. The jerky is made from 100 percent bison meat and organic flavoring ingredients. There’s no artificial nitrates, and it’s sugar free, gluten free and carbohydrate free. “Whether you’re diabetic or just looking for ways to be healthier, we wanted to cater to that with our brand,” Sepp says. A package, which is two servings, provides 24 grams of protein.

The jerky is produced in a family-owned processing facility that’s local to the ranch. It’s USDA-certified under the state of Montana, so the jerky can be sold anywhere in the U.S.

In the fourth quarter of this year, the line will be extended with varieties fortified with medium-chain triglycerides derived from coconut, to appeal to Paleo eaters who are working on their healthy fat intake. The new MCT varieties will be offered in each of the six flavors.

For more information, email info@goroamfree.com, which will reach Sepp whether he’s home on the range or out on the road. “We would love to distribute outside of driving in a trailer,” he says. “But if we don’t get there, we’re not going to be upset.”

 

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