Xavier and Benoît Gandon inherited Epicurien from their uncle.
He had begun producing homemade jams for his delicatessen in Paris, and as the brothers took over in the 1990s, they moved out of the capital to Lodève (Hérault).
Today they produce an astounding range of more than 300 jams, savoury spreads, chutneys, sauces, pestos, oils, vinegars.
Made in open cauldrons
“Everything is produced by hand,” says Benoît. “We use top quality fruit, cane sugar and natural pectin for our jams.
“They are handmade in open cauldrons allowing the water vapour to evaporate naturally, according to the water content in the fruit, which can vary according to the season and the weather.”
They don’t use frozen or broken fruit or vegetables. They don’t add artificial colourings, preservatives or flavourings except when absolutely necessary, for example, for mustard, and all their jams contain between 55-75% fruit.
They don’t pad their jams with cheaper fruit or apple purée, which is common practice for bargain price industrially-made jam.
“Our jams are labelled ‘extra’ which is a very tightly regulated EU description.”
Unusual blends to pair with cheese
Their products include a wide selection specially designed to go with cheese called ‘cheese confits’ including Raspberry and Cayenne Pepper, Fig and Walnut, Black Cherry, Espelette Pepper Jelly, Cider with Apple and Calvados, Honey and Thyme Flowers Black Olive, Mango with Penja Pepper, Apricot with Wild Thyme, Sauternes Confit, Spicy Beer, White Wine with Pear, Quince, and Plum with Cumin.
The brothers employ a team of 30 people, who all taste new products as they are developed by Xavier.
“Everyone has their input and ideas, and we taste and re-taste products to get them perfect.”
20 new products every year
“We have developed the savoury side of the business and are working to produce spreads and snacks to go with apéros.
“It’s a fast growing area for us. We also intend to look at gourmet biscuits, tiny savoury ones for apéros and sweet ones to go with coffee at the end of a gourmet meal.”
Epicurien’s products are stocked by 1,500 delicatessens and ‘épiceries fines’ in France and they have an online boutique which offers the entire range.
“No bricks and mortar shop could possibly stock our entire range, it’s too large!”