Fauchon, which started off as a fine grocery, confectionary, pastry and caterer in France has since 2007 extended its operations to include a new restaurant concept. The Café is an all-day chic dining restaurant, inspired by the traditional Parisian Café, and the Boulangerie, a luxury snacking concept.
Kuwait was the first market to experience this new restaurant concept created by the famous French luxury food company, and it was quickly followed by Tokyo, Beijing, and finally Paris in March.
“A lot of the Fauchon international franchises are boutiques selling chocolates and high end as well as customised Fauchon products such as our special preserves, mustards, oils and vinegars,” explains Thierry Vanstenberghe, Fauchon’s operations manager, who opened the company’s three outlets in Kuwait. “The gourmet provisions are their strength in Paris, as this is where Parisians go to purchase top of the line foods.
“We saw a high potential in the local market to take the idea of Fauchon and develop it to a new level with the Café.
“Parisians place the Fauchon brand name in the same category as the leading names in French fashion, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel and Hermes, which I suppose is mainly due to our very trendy and glamorous image, as well as exceptional commitment to ensuring products of the highest quality, all of which is portrayed in our advertising,” says Alaa Al Mousawi, the company’s Director. “You can spot a Fauchon advertisement a mile away,” he adds.
Kuwaitis have always been a step ahead of their Gulf neighbors when it comes to international cuisine, since they were the pioneers of the Gulf when it came to owning homes and assets in the west, says Alaa.
“Local people’s culinary knowledge is always expanding, mainly because of extensive travelling around the world, which means they are more gastronomically aware of what good food is and are always up to date with the latest dining trends,” he says.
The menu in the Fauchon outlets at the Crowne Plaza, in Salhiya and in Salmiya has an impressive selection of French-flavored dishes that have been modified to suit the local palate.
“We re-engineered popular French dishes by giving them a local twist,” says Vanstenberghe, who has over 20 years’ experience as a pastry chef in countries around the world, from Europe and the Caribbean to South Africa and the Gulf.
“The dishes on our menu are different to ones you will find anywhere else in Kuwait. We have dishes with such French ingredients as foie gras, but we also try to turn every dish so that it suits the local market without losing its identity, and this is the challenge.
“Whether we start with soups or the main course, some items are typically French, and others are a combination of a French vision of the art of cooking applied to foreign specialties.
“Because of our location next to Spain, Italy and Germany, and the large expat community who have made France their home, the French are very open to the rest of the world,” he explains.
The menu in Kuwait still features some signature Fauchon dishes, such as the unique ‘Le Club Sandwich’ and the mouth-watering Beef Fondue, which is available nowhere else in Kuwait.
The legendary French outlet had very determined beginnings. Auguste Fauchon arrived in Paris from Normandy in 1881 with the idea of selling the best fruits and vegetables from around the country from a street cart on the Place de la Madeleine. Soon the area became the place to be with its exclusive stores, gourmet food and restaurants, and in 1886, Fauchon opened his own outlet. In a tradition that has continued to this day, he only hired the top chefs and pastry chefs in Paris. The Grand Salon de The opened in 1898 when he introduced afternoon tea to the French. Since then, the company has expanded to all corners of the globe and their gourmet food boutiques, pastries, breads, restaurants and elite outdoor catering services are much in demand.
In Kuwait, the outdoor catering service has proved popular and will become even more so over the coming months following the appointment of Mohammed Bseiso as the Director of Operations for all three Kuwait branches. Bseiso joined the group with an impressive background in Catering to the elite in different countries such as the UK and Jordan, and most recently the Sheraton Kuwait, where he spent the last six years ensuring memorable events to his high end customer portfolio, and will be setting a new benchmark in this field with Fauchons’ ‘be-spoke’ catering services.
“Most of my experience in Kuwait was with one of the best high end catering establishments in the country catering to the crème de la crème of Kuwaiti society,” he says, adding that there are many plans in store over the coming months. “We still have quite a few surprises up our sleeves in terms of new projects and services we will be offering.”
The catering branch has been in demand since the company first opened in Kuwait, but it is hoped that it will soon be expanding. “The upmarket catering service is very challenging, but it is also interesting and exciting to have so many things to deal with,” he says. “Catering needs in this country are more demanding than ever before, and the key to meeting those demands is to ensure you understand your clients and always strive for the best... and then some!” he says.
The company started their outside catering service when their restaurant customers asked them to cater for their events. “It was done very selectively, but now we will be taking it to a different level in terms of catering for all kinds of events, such as weddings, receptions, gala dinners and VIP corporate events,” says Vanstenberghe.
The company has expanded quickly from its original location at the Crowne Plaza four years ago to the restaurants and stores in Salhiya and Salmiya, which both opened within months of one another in 2007. The comfortable restaurants’ trendy silver and grey decor was designed for Fauchon by a world-renowned architect, Christian Biecher, incorporating all of Fauchon’s unique spirit, which combines modernity and tradition.
“We are still new in town compared to others, and we are on the right track for sure,” says Vanstenberghe.
Fauchon is an all day dining establishment which caters for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, and they attract a different clientele for each meal.
Added to this, over the past couple of months, a weekly specials menu consisting of a variety of soups, appetizers, main courses and pastas are available to diners at the company’s outlets, and this has proved to be extremely popular.
“This means that there is always something new to try in Fauchon and keeps our regular customers eager to see what gastronomic creations will be on the menu during their next visit,” says Alaa Al Mousawi.
“The company’s locations in Salmiya and Salhiya were strategically chosen as both are densely populated with high end retail brand names as well as corporate offices,” says Al-Mousawi.
As well as the extensive dining menu, the pastry counters (which are available in the same premises as the Café) sell a wide variety of pastry delicacies that are all produced fresh every day in Kuwait following the strict Fauchon guidelines, and none of the cakes, croissants or bread rolls are imported frozen from France, says Vanstenberghe, who claims they are the best in Kuwait.
“People come to Fauchon because it is like feeling Paris on your lips - which is actually our slogan - thanks to the diversity and uniqueness of the products we have to offer,” he says. “People know we have good pastries, and when they are in the boutiques, they buy éclairs, macaroons, cakes and teas that cannot be found anywhere else in Kuwait. Our chocolates are some of the richest and finest chocolates in the world, and if you ask any of our customers, they will say they are worth every penny,” he says.
Such perfection means the company has constantly to look to the future. “We don’t believe in standing still with the same items for a long time,” says Al-Mousawi. “We have a research and development team based in Paris which is continually striving to create new lines of food, pastries and gourmet home products. We always have something new and better to offer customers.”
This is one of the reasons why Fauchon is always a hit with its growing band of clients, who appreciate its top quality sweet and savoury delicacies.
First published in Men's Passion issue #4 May - June 2008