Leave No Charcuterie Board Behind – Beau Bien Fine Foods
Some companies make jam, some companies make marmalade. However they are usually too sugary and don’t really do anything besides taste good with peanut butter (what doesn’t taste good with peanut butter thought?)
Beau Bien Fine Foods is not your typical ‘fruits n stuff’ in a jar company. No, these two ladies throw lunch bag destined jams to curb in favor of highly flavorful and inspiring condiments great for pairing with wine, cheese, meat or adding that finishing touche to your recipe repertoire. I met with Noelle about what makes her and her partner, Molly’s, locally sourced artisan chutneys, preserves, fruit mustards, and marmalades so great. Read up while I make the largest cheese and meat board ever, all paired with Beau Bien Fine Foods products.
Tell us a little about yourself and the company you own/run:
Molly and I met via mutual friends on Twitter and discovered we had a lot in common in that we both loved to cook. When Michigan passed the Cottage Food law in 2010, we knew we wanted to do some kind of small business. We settled on preserves because, unlike baked goods, you can make them ahead and sell them at a later time without worrying about having to throw away excess product. We also really liked playing around with different flavor combinations- that was something no one was doing locally at the time. We’re big fans of pairing sweet with savory flavors, which is how we came up with some of our product ideas that pair fruit with herbs, spices, vinegar, etc. We like to serve many of our preserves with cheeses or meats, not just on toast at breakfast.
What is your location and how long has the company been in business?
We’ve been in business since 2010. We were a tiny business for our first two years, but as we saw the positive response to our products, it encouraged us to grow, so we got our retail license in 2012 and started cooking out of the kitchen at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. We hope to establish our own kitchen in the coming year as we grow even more!
Of course, people always ask if we are located on Beaubien Street. We actually just picked the name because we wanted something people would associate with Detroit but didn’t want to just call our business “Detroit Preserves” or something. “Beau” and “Bien” in French mean beautiful and well, so we thought it was a perfect name for our “beautifully well-made” preserves.
What makes your products special/unique?
Apart from the creative flavors that we produce, I think the most special or unique thing about our products is that we use about half the amount of sugar of conventional recipes. When we started making preserves, we really disliked how sweet some of them were- you couldn’t even tell what fruit you were eating after putting all that sugar in! So we came up with our own formula that cuts the sugar in half. Our jams are still sweet- after all, it’s jam- but you’re getting more of the concentrated flavors of the fruit rather than just a boatload of sugar.
Another thing I’d point out about our products is that we source just about all of our produce locally. When we made that decision in our second year, it meant we had to stop making a few flavors like marmalades and other citrus flavors, but there are so many great fruits that are grown right here, we felt it was more important to support our local economy.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I think I speak for both of us when I say that the best part about our jobs is the fun of creating new flavors and recipes. We love to get creative and experiment in the kitchen. Apart from that, we also love interacting with customers at the farmers’ markets, telling them about the products and getting feedback from them about how they used something in a recipe or served it to friends who loved it. We have even developed some products, like our Sweet & Spicy Tomato Preserves, based on input from customers.
Where can we buy more of your products?
We don’t have a retail storefront, but we sell at several retail stores across the metro area, as well as a few locations across the state. We also do farmers’ markets, including Saturdays at the Eastern Market, and we’ll be at the Birmingham and Farmington markets on and off this summer as well. Our website has a full list of retail locations and markets. We’re also happy to accommodate online orders- although our online shop is still being set up, customers can email us via our website and we’ll provide a quote. You can also buy our products online via Door to Door Organics.
What’s the best way to enjoy/eat/prepare/utilize your product?
As I mentioned, we love to pair our preserves with a cheese board or use them as a glaze or accompaniment to meats. Some of our flavors are more “breakfast-y” but we also put them on ice cream, stir them into yogurt for a healthy snack, or even put them into cocktails. Our labels all have tasting notes and pairing suggestions to give customers ideas (these can also be found on our website), but there’s really no wrong way to serve them- every person’s palate is different!