A couple of years ago, I worked on the Olida Express account for a Montreal advertising agency. And Olida belongs to Fleury Michon, which is how I came to learn of this brand ubiquitous in France. Then, because it’s a small world, I was recently invited to the launch of Fleury Michon’s ready-to-eat line in Montreal.
If I may put on my ad writer hat for a second, I actually like the way the brand positions itself. At the time, I interviewed one of its chefs and could feel his deep commitment to good food. He explained to me how easy it is to create a recipe at home but how hard it is to replicate on a production chain. Some ingredients may not be lend themselves to mass manufacturing, have little to no shelf life, and prove cost-prohibitive when 4 servings turn into 4 million… It’s quite the balancing act.
Which of course makes me yearn for, and respect, “clean label” foods even more.
For the launch, I received a box with two Fleury Michon products. One was Surimi, pollock sticks stuffed with cream cheese and basil, which I disliked to the core of my being. But a French friend of mine was dancing with joy and nibbling away when I showed it to her. So, hey, chalk it up to cultural differences?
The Thai Coconut Chicken I liked. Served with a side of jasmine rice, it was fragrant and real tasting (not so much in a “Thai way” if you’re a hot Thai-food addict like me, but in a “real food” way). I also approved of the serving size which shows typical French restraint. The ingredient list is longish but natural. The twist? The entrées are fresh, not frozen, with a 30-day fridge life thanks to pasteurization.
As part of its crossover launch, Fleury Michon recruited the services of chef extraordinaire Danny St Pierre of Auguste Restaurant in Sherbrooke, one of my fave toques in Quebec, as a consultant (Joël Robuchon plays that part in France). Getting local chefs involved is always a good sign. So if you’re looking for lunch ideas on-the-run, you may want to check them out at the grocery store.
Brand: Fleury Michon is a leading brand in France virtually unknown in Quebec. These new ready-to-heat entrées are meant to change all that. Initially sold at IGA, it’s being extended to more stores throughout Quebec.
Price: Usually $5.49 to $5.99