Bon Fond: Exploring French Gastronomic Culture

BON FOND

Adjective

  • To be good at heart: colloquial expression meaning that someone is a good soul.

Noun

  • Good stock: delicious bouillon made with farm-fresh ingredients.
  • Solid base: you need a strong foundation to build a sturdy house; or, in our language, a good stock to cook a great sauce.

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Meet Eric and Lise. Two chefs on a journey to discover the abundance of France through sustainable farming and French savoir-faire. This duo’s ultimate goals are to explore the array of artisanal French traditions, to teach others the knowledge they have picked up along the way, to live sustainably, and to receive hands-on lessons on small-scale, organic agriculture direct from locals with a ‘bon fond’. As they explain, “We want to show you how traditional, artisanal methods of organic agriculture, animal husbandry, butchery, cheese-making, baking, smoking, and preserving are being used today. These time-honored French techniques combine to create a deeply rooted gastronomic culture, bound together by incredibly generous, hard-working, passionate individuals: all the ingredients for a ‘bon fond’, in every sense of the expression”.

  • What inspired you to start Bon Fond?

We have both worked for restaurants across the globe that use incredible ingredients. Every day, these restaurants receive deliveries from farmers, who would often come in person. We wanted to learn more about these products, the people that make them, and to work with them to better understand their production methods. To put it simply: who, what, where, when and why! The decision to share our experiences came from the fact that we were witnessing unique techniques and working side by side with these farmers, an experience that not everyone can have. We want people to be able to learn alongside us and understand the hard work of these fantastic producers.

 

  • How did you decide on your first Voyage?

Our route was largely based on which producers responded to our unusual request to work with them and the seasonal rhythm of their production. In January 2018, we left Paris for Normandy, because we are absolutely insane and decided to start our trip in the north of France in the middle of winter to work with a hard cider producer. In fact, we ended up avoiding tons of snow in the south, so the decision ended up being the right one. From there, we made our way counterclockwise around France: up to Brittany to see abalone farmers, down to the Loire to work with the world champion of jam, to Charentes to learn to make vinegar, down the the Basque country to do charcuterie, over to Provence to make olive oil, and so on. Often, we would stay in a region longer than we expected, because as soon as a producer met us and understood the goal of Bon Fond, they would put us in contact with other farmers and food artisans nearby.

  • What was the most impactful Voyage experience you encountered?

Our month in Corsica will always remain the most challenging and most rewarding time we have spent during our Bon Fond journey. We worked with a couple who were some of the first organic farmers in France in the late 1960s, Martine and Daniel Hervet at the Ferme d’Alzetta. They shared an overwhelming amount of knowledge with us about creating a sustainable small farm on only 2 hectares. Then we made our way up the mountains to spend a week with a Corsican goat herder and his family. Living with them, waking up at 5:30am, running up and down the mountains to herd goats, making traditional Corsican goat’s cheese, and chopping wood was an unforgettable experience.

  • What was the greatest discovery you made on your Voyage?

We would talk about all the extraordinary products we’ve tasted over the past year but the greatest discovery we made were the people we met. Each and every farmer and artisan welcomed us into their homes and integrated us into their family. We never expected this level of generosity and kindness from complete strangers.

  • Did you stumble across any challenges along the way?

We live in our camping car, Marcel, a 1990 Peugeot Hymer. Living together for the first time, in a small space, and beginning our voyage in the middle of winter were all new experiences. On top of that, add attempting to contact wary strangers and explaining that you’d like to come work with them for several days to learn their trade… it wasn’t always easy. Quite a lot of people didn’t respond to our message or phone calls. The people that did respond were ultimately those who understood Bon Fond and were ready to share their knowledge.

  • What parallels do you see between food farming practises and viticulture?

In both cases, a farmer and a winemaker harvest the bounty of the earth. Both parties are highly sensitive to their environment and always tending to the needs of their fields. These producers choices and hard work ultimately culminate and result in the quality of the finalised product, whether that is a vegetable or a bottle of wine. After spending time with winemaker Christophe Durdilly at the Domaine de Croix Rousse, we’ve also observed many parallels between farmers and winemakers who both use biodynamic principles in their production methods

 

  • Where do you want to take Bon Fond in the future? What will you do differently?

Bon Fond is currently working on a documentary series that will showcase the talents of the individuals we have visited over the past year. We’d love to document farmers and artisans in other countries, as well. Ultimately, we hope for the success of our documentary series and the creation of a restaurant, which includes a learning space and culinary school.

 

  • How can we follow your journey?

Website : bonfond.fr

Instagram :  @bon.fond

Facebook : Bon Fond