How did the Crousset spices adventure start?
To be honest, very humbly!
Jacques, my father, started growing his own plants and herbs in his garden, behind his house. It was in 2000. I joined him a few years later. I was living in Montreal at the time. My girlfriend and I, our family having just grown with the arrival of our first daughter, were looking for a place to settle down, and it was only natural that we turned to the beautiful region of the Eastern Townships. I had studied business management and also worked for a few years in the overheated, greasy and suffocating kitchens of Montreal, and therefore with this knowledge I proposed to my father to join him.
Arrived in the region
New to the region, I absolutely needed a job. Like it’s urgent! Unfortunately, his herbal business barely allowed him to support himself. But thanks to various government support and the addition of spices to the product line, we were able to get off the ground.
From the start, we agreed: I sell the spices and you make them. Bargain ! So I left with my suitcase full of samples to tour grocery stores and restaurants, looking for my first customers. Hey boy! It wasn’t easy! I have often passed for an extraterrestrial with my ras el hanout, my garam masala and other Arab and oriental mixtures. But we never gave up!
Over the years, by dint of doing shows and fairs, we ended up creating a name. It’s been a long time, but hey, when you believe in it and have a pig’s head, it pays off in the end. Today we have diversified. We offer our products to restaurants (although these days it’s rather difficult … if you read this in a few years, know that this text was written in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic!), To grocery stores (under various names, private label obliges), to the food industry and, our latest addition, to microbreweries and micro-distilleries. We even managed to get out of Quebec.
Everywhere in Canada, in France and Belgium
Nous sommes maintenant présents un partout au Canada, de même qu’en France et en Belgique. Pour le reste, on a plein de beaux projets. On compte doubler la superficie de production de notre usine à Magog, ce qui sera peut-être chose faite quand vous lirez ces lignes, et on est en voie d’obtenir la certification SQF, une des normes de qualité et traçabilité les plus élevés au monde. Enfin bref, plusieurs nouveaux défis s’offrent à nous dans un avenir pas si lointain.
Several years ago
The adventure began several years ago, at the turn of the year 2000. At the time, as Guillaume says in his intro, I was growing herbs in the more or less large field behind my home, in Estrie
It wasn’t enough, of course, to support my wife and I, but we were holding on. Then, realizing that all this would not go very far, Quebec being nevertheless very small (and my field too, after all!), The idea occurred to me to add spices, of course from elsewhere , to my collection. Better than that: to mix it up, taking inspiration from what was happening here and there.
The horizon was opening up
From then on, things changed. The product offering was greater, the horizon was opening up. But there was still one problem, a huge problem: to make oneself known. Because it was all well and good to arrive on the market with a whole panoply of rather new products, you still had to sell them. That is, convincing grocery stores, restaurateurs, and the general public that what I was offering was good, good. It wasn’t easy, needless to say. I did come from nowhere, I was a complete stranger.
The trumpets of fame did not precede me. No one had seen me on television, no one had heard me on the radio. And I landed with blends like Ethiopian Berber, Baharat, Madras curry, things not many people knew about. But there was a way out, a way to make yourself known that didn’t cost too much: food fairs, fairs. I believe, very humbly, to have done them all, or quite a few all, in the company of my wife and Guillaume, who joined me a few years later.
Agri-food fairs have been a good school, to be honest. We learned a lot there, including the art of listening to the customer. Since then, a lot of water has flowed under the bridges. Through hard work, patience and, let’s say it, relentlessness, we ended up making a name for ourselves and interesting not only Mr. and Mrs. Everyone but also chefs and industry. What’s more, our premises are now bigger, so more able to offer our range of services, and from the fall of 2021 we will be able to display the SQF certification on our honor roll.
In short, the future is here, the doors are open, but let’s not sleep on our laurels, there is still a lot of work to be done. Thank you to you who took the time to read these lines.
General terms and conditions of sale
© 2022 Crousset Inc. — All rights reserved