Alexandre Pugnet, managing director of Quintessence, the newly opened UAE branch of a family-run French shellfish and crustacean business, introduces his products to the Middle East market
Why did you set up Quintessence?
Quintessence represents a three-generation family business savoir-faire from Brittany, a passion for great quality seafood, caught, produced and farmed with true respect for nature and seasonality. On one side, you have the fishermen with their five boats, based out of the second biggest harbor in France: Lorient, who caught 3,770t of fishes last year. On the other side, you have the shellfish and crustacean producers and farmers based in La Trinité sur Mer. Our idea for setting up Quintessence was to bring our exquisite products with their history, heritage and aquaculture traditions and work with inspired and creative chefs in the Middle East region.
What products does Quintessence offer?
Quintessence currently offers the finest seafood from Brittany in France. This includes a full range of crustaceans from the famous blue lobster to the velvet crab, including the underestimated edible brown crab, as well as classic shellfish like carpet shells, cockles and European clams, and some more exotic items for the Gulf region, like abalones, goose-neck barnacles or tellins. We also have our two ranges of oysters: Princesses de Kermancy, high-end cupped and belon, and La Kermancy, our entry level cupped range, named after the place where my family is established. In a few weeks, we will also introduce the full range of fish from the Atlantic.
What makes your products unique?
We control the full cycle of fishing, production and farming. Let’s start with the oysters: we collect larvae naturally in our parcs in Charente, and we have our own hatchery and nursery in Vendée to grow the larvae into spats. We sell 90% of our spats production to other farmers in France and abroad. We keep 10% for Princesses de Kermancy and La Kermancy and we sow them in deep sea water in Bay of Quiberon. It represents three years of hard work from larvae to the final product in your plate. We also have our own parcs for the other shellfish and traps for the crustaceans. We give the products time to grow, time for Nature to do her work, to present a final product we’re proud of. That’s the reason we are the proud partners of seven three-Michelin-stars restaurants, and a bevy of two and one-Michelin-star establishments in France and in Europe.
What clients are you looking to target in the Middle East?
We’re happy to collaborate and support every chef who loves great fresh seafood products, full of flavour, with history, heritage and savoir-faire. He or she can be running the outlets of a hotel or be the resident chef of a fine-dining establishment or seafood restaurant; he or she can be a culinary consultant developing new concepts or in charge of a standalone cafe in a residential area.
What’s next for your company in 2017?
The end of 2016 has been extremely promising. We intend to do the same in 2017, slowly but surely increasing the number of chefs and establishments we work with. January will bring new menus, which means new tasting opportunities for us and I’ll let our products do the talking then.
T: +97155 824 9961