It was right in the center of Paris, tucked away in the 11th arrondissement, that we went to open the door to the Clément cheese dairy: La Fromagerie Goncourt.
We met a passionate man and exceptional cheeses. True guardian of taste and traditions, Clément indulges in a few confidences without making a big deal out of it!
. . .
Who are you?
I am Clément, I am 36 years old and I have been in the cheese business for 8 years after a retraining. Seven years ago almost to the day, I created La Fromagerie Goncourt!
What is your background?
I first followed a course in banking, in which I stayed for 7 years. But I did not find myself too much in this “big boxes” configuration. And then I just wondered, “the day I have a child, what would I like to have to tell her in the evening when I come home from work?” Today, I’m happy to have “my nose in the cheese” with a business from days gone by. It’s the best way to grow for me.
Where does your passion for cheese come from?
I love cheese and I love my country, France, where cheese is a flagship and iconic product. No country is equal to us in this matter! (laughs)
I am also passionate about cycling. I like to discover the land by bicycle and cheese often structures my trips! One day, I challenged myself to take a tour of France of cheese-making regions, like Périco Légasse did on the Camembert route. So I left my home, near the Saint Martin canal, with my pilgrim’s staff and three months in front of me to discover the world of cheese. With my old bike from the 70’s, I traveled nearly 3,500 km through Savoie, Auvergne, Loire and Normandy! I was able to discover a very comforting environment in hospitality, and a healthy sector which, although there is great industrial competition, manages to preserve its traditions.
What is the history of your Crèmerie-Fromagerie?
I have always loved small businesses. When I returned from my cheese tour of France, I decided to do something concrete while staying in Paris. So I did an internship at Pierre Gay in Annecy, then started looking for a store in the 11th arrondissement of Paris where I found a former little detective bookstore. After three months of work, I started the adventure on my own, with three small cellars. Today there are 5 of us in our neighborhood dairy-dairy that we keep alive as much as possible. We recently had a trip to the Jura, meeting farmers, the third for me, but there is always something to discover!
How do you select the products?
Over the course of our visits, we have developed a kind of personal label which requires in particular that we only offer cheeses, without additives, seasonal prepared from the milk of animals having grazed in season and resulting from natural reproduction, the “fight”, without hormones. In addition to our annual trips to the terroirs, our colleagues sometimes tell us about small farm producers. If we cannot go there, we cross-check the data to verify that it matches our approach. Today, we work 70% directly with the producers.
We almost exclusively offer farmhouse cheeses made from raw milk, with the exception of a few pasteurized cheeses for pregnant women… The idea is not to go into an idealistic Parisian bobo delirium but to fight to find the cheeses of our ancestors !
Industrial techniques have now largely entered the industry. For example, it is estimated that only 10% of goats graze. In the Loire, some never go out and wear tampons to artificially regulate the rhythm of the heat… Our desire is therefore to highlight the conservation of the natural practices of our ancestors, to highlight a way of doing things.
We have also developed an offer around aperitifs, another French passion! Complementary products, pâtés and sausages without nitrites and vegetarian recipes from the Superproducteur range, identified by a colleague, are thus made available to customers.
Do you offer a very good range of raw milk cheeses? Why is this important to you and what does it mean to the product?
We favor cheeses prepared as the ancients did with simplicity. Raw milk is the expression of the terroir, even though today’s raw milk has evolved well, it is living with the times and current health measures. Pasteurization therefore doesn’t make much sense.
Raw milk also embodies the desire not to offer watered down food. A French resistance stick, shared with some European countries. If there are good pasteurized cheeses, the latter poses the risk of standardizing tastes – This is another level: pasteurized cheese is not bad, but it is what Decathlon is cycling, and we can it’s hard to compare it to the steel bicycle worked by a Parisian craftsman (laughs).
Which favorite cheese do you like to share at the moment?
On our last trip, we discovered L’Epive, a raw milk cheese prepared in a great terroir: in St Point Lac (Franche Comté). It is prepared in an ideal natural setting, using raw milk from cows from three producers, less than a kilometer from the farms. Thanks to superbly old-fashioned raw milk, its paste is creamy. It is surrounded by spruce wood which gives it woody aromas.
A recipe that you like to prepare at the moment?
A great recipe idea? Cheese and natural sourdough bread from the Sain bakery!
What do you think are the essential elements of the perfect aperitif? (casting, products, context, location …)
In the mountains near a stage of the Tour de France, simple cheese taken out of the backpack, bread and a few vegetable pates and creams. On the cheese side, you can even dare a creamy cheese, a hard paste made from cow, sheep or goat. And to complete the trinity of fermentation: a small white wine for summer.
Why did you choose to offer the Superproducteur recipes?
We have developed a fairly simple aperitif corner with products that we know where they come from, how they are made and how good they are. We liked the surprising side of the Superproducteur recipes where we even see the name of the producer.
What’s your favorite Superproducteur recipe?
The Green Lucques Olive Cream, it is just flavored properly!
Why and with which cheese from your selection like / do you imagine offering it?
With a small fresh goat from the Perros family in Sarthe: a great breeding for a great aperitif effect.
What can we wish you?
That there are still great cheese producers in the regions who are struggling under difficult conditions to work the old way by offering great cheeses – So that we continue to support them every day. Fighting against hygiene in the service of industrialization is what motivates us, our reason for working!