Delicatessen : Four Generations

In Brioux-sur-Boutonne, in the Deux-Sèvres region, Maison Herrouet has been perpetuating the traditional know-how of the family charcuterie for four generations.

By Fédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

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Located between La Rochelle, Poitiers and Angoulême, Brioux-sur-Boutonne is a small village of 1,500 inhabitants. There, the Herrouet charcuterie has been operating from father to son "a trade that changes every day" since 1934. 

 While his great-grandfather used to ride his bicycle to sell home-made charcuterie, today, Antoine focuses on the delicatessen offer that even brings him, on certain occasions, to put sauerkraut for sale... on social networks.

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Four generations 

The history of the Maison Herrouet is based on the transmission of a knowledge that has been enriched over generations. The creation of the company dates back to 1934: Antoine's great-grandfather was a former itinerant butcher. At the time, he used to travel by bike. 

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The store has always remained in the same location since 1934, although it has been rebuilt several times. Growing up in this environment gave Antoine the desire to train for the job. 

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He began an apprenticeship with a butcher in Niort: "we made all our meat up to the salting, the cured ham... we did everything from A to Z".

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After joining the company in 2013, Antoine decided to develop the catering business. The same year, the family bought a market in Niort, where they sell three days a week. They doubled the surface of the Brioux store and launched a take-away menu. 

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In the family, the tasks are well distributed: Antoine's uncle takes care of the deliveries, his father is in manufacturing, and himself is in management. An employee prepares the take-away meals, and two saleswomen manage the store and the farmer markets. The team also has an apprentice who the family wishes to hire as an employee. 

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Local anchoring

Even today, Herrouet is committed to touring nearby country villages, and to preserve human contact and social interactions in remote locations. Although Brioux-sur-Boutonne is a small village, it still benefits from a variety of shops, all places of exchange and conviviality.

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In addition to the delicatessen, the shop works with local poultry and cheese producers: "It is a priority to work in the local circuit to support the small shops around us”. 

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To extend their activities, Antoine has also developed a bespoke event offer. "Some customers want cassoulet, paella, sauerkraut, pork... It's really on demand, and there is no set menu". For weddings, for example, he manages the wine of honour, cocktail, dinner, and even the next day's lunch.

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Notoriety  

The Maison Herrouet's specialty is sauerkraut: from October to mid-March, they will sell more than 4,000 shares. Herrouet is also known for its white pudding and white ham, which won a gold medal in 2015, and the andouillettes they sell throughout France. On the dessert side, the "tourteau fromager", a cheesecake burnt on top, is the most popular.  

This year, Maison Herrouet received the Mercure d’Or award in the Rural Commerce category. It also won the title of “Maitre Artisan”. Antoine is proud of this recognition from the industry and of his reputation in the region. 

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Perpetuating the tradition 

But the behind the scenes are not always so attractive: "when you start talking about deli meats, it involves blood, it's not always very clean". The staff also has to work on weekends, which repels some apprentices. Antoine works hard to change the image of the profession and pass on his passion to his students. 

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"You won’t know it's a beautiful job unless you get into it. Producing the meat is really rewarding". A passion he hopes to pass on to his children to perpetuate the family history.  

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