Fabrice le Chef: Behind the scenes of a start-up

I’ve written about Chef Fabrice Lemonnier several times in Radio Free Daglan, taking you inside his personalized cooking classes and sharing the experience of having him prepare a complete meal for us and a group of friends. Now I’m happy to report that he’s branching out — opening his own shop in the centre of the village.

This venture actually started some time ago, when he began sharing space with the village’s butcher. Fabrice’s portion of the business was to sell a wide variety of foods that he prepared, ranging from quiches to chicken with chorizo to terrines.

My wife and I had become regular shoppers at the store, enjoying dishes like chicken with mushrooms and baked tomatoes stuffed with seasoned pork. The dishes are all well made, well packaged, reasonably priced — and delicious.

Then the butcher decided to leave the business, and Daglan, for good. And this opened the way for Fabrice to negotiate taking over the whole shop, refurbishing it, installing his own kitchen equipment, and opening “Fabrice le Chef, Traiteur et Chef à Domicile.”

To accomplish all this, however, Fabrice and his wife Samantha had to close the shop for quite a few days as the butcher cleared out, allowing them to renovate. With help from family and friends (including my wife Jan), they’ve been cleaning, scrubbing, sanding and painting.

But the biggest job so far has been installing a heavy, multi-part refrigerated display case that Fabrice bought in Cahors and hauled to Daglan by truck. Let’s have a look inside the start-up of the shop on Monday, as Fabrice and team lift the display case into place — through the shop’s rear window.

In this first photo, part of the multi-part display case is already in the shop. But there is still more to come, and here it’s being lifted out of the truck.

Some parts of the case are in the shop, but there's more to come.

Some parts of the case are in the shop, but there’s more to come.

Here, Fabrice (on the right) and friends start the process of lifting the heaviest part of the case off the truck and through the window:

Careful, guys -- it weighs a ton!

Careful, guys — it weighs a ton!

Here it comes, through the window:

This was the toughest part.

This was the toughest part.

Now it’s finally in the shop, and Fabrice and crew can start putting together the pieces into a single, integrated display case:

Gently, gently, down onto the floor.

Gently, gently, down onto the floor.

Although that was easily the toughest part of renovating the shop, there’s been plenty more for Fabrice and Samantha to concentrate on, including taping and then painting all the windows, like this one:

A window is taped and ready for a fresh coat of paint.

A window is taped and ready for a fresh coat of paint.

Now the launch is just a few days away, and Fabrice can get back to doing what he loves (this photo was taken at one of the cooking classes we attended):

Browning potatoes

Nicely turned potatoes are placed gently in a hot sauce pan.

But now he’ll have a place where the food he prepares can be shown off — and sold — to anyone visiting Daglan. Once his shop is officially opened, Radio Free Daglan will be back for another look. In the meantime, this is what to look for; the shop is close to the Mairie, and just across the street from the post office:

Here's what to look for.

Here’s what to look for.

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8 Responses to Fabrice le Chef: Behind the scenes of a start-up

  1. lepeyruzel says:

    Hi Loren, I really enjoyed reading your blog about Fabrice. I hadn’t realised the butcher had left and he had taken over the shop completely. When is he opening for business? Pleaes give Fabrice and Samantha our very best wishes for a successful new venture.
    Merci.

    • loren24250 says:

      Hi Letitia, thanks for your note. I think Fabrice and Sam were hoping for Friday (Good Friday, as you know!) but it’s more likely to be Monday. As for the butcher, certain things are best discussed in private. If you get my drift.

  2. Gareth Knowles says:

    A great addition to the town. But what’s happened to the butcher? Has he just moved elsewhere? Best saucisson de Toulouse I’ve had!

  3. Sam and Jill says:

    For all us unedumacated, ‘Merican dummies: “Le Chef, Traiteur et Chef à Domicile means Catering and Chef at Home and the “Mairie” is the Town Hall. Thank goodness for Google Translate.

    • loren24250 says:

      Oh please, Sam and Jill: You’re both graduates of the Harvey Gobin School of Frenchness, and you shouldn’t need Google Translate. But in any case, you’re “spot on.” (Google Translate of “spot on” from British English to American English: “Yep.”)

  4. Suzanne says:

    Can’t wait to try the delights.

  5. loren24250 says:

    Suzanne: We’re counting down!

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