We’ve all heard the expression “You are what you eat”. Well for Yann Debroucke, the man running our new manufacturing unit, it couldn’t be truer. After several years spent without paying much attention to his diet (he was at the time working as a manager for none other than McDonald’s!), he hit rock bottom and had no choice but to stop working and take charge of his health. Rather than taking loads of medication, he learned to heal himself with food, starting by taking dairy and gluten out of his diet.
We’ve asked him a few questions to discover his journey from fastfood to wholefood and his motivations for going down the risky but oh-so-rewarding entrepreneurial route.
Can you tell us about your professional career? What did you do before you stumbled into the plant-based world?
I’ve done so many different things! My longest stint was with SNCF (France’s national railway company), where I worked for 10 years in customer service and sales. I’ve also worked for a communication firm and as a wedding and primary school photographer. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was my job at McDonald’s. I had developed an inflammatory chronic illness and was made redundant for reasons of physical inaptitude. That’s when I finally woke up and started taking care of my body.
So what happened next?
In 2015, after a doing a complete U-turn in my diet for health reasons, I was getting more and more interested in nutrition and wanted to learn more about the affects of diet on the body. I didn’t particularly fancy going back to school and doing formal studies but I came across a nutrition science course in Brittany, where I spent one year learning everything about healthy eating and organic food. The course leader told us about Christophe’s rice yoghurts so when I saw them at my local Biocoop, I bought one and loved it.
After the course, I spent a few years hosting organic & healthy eating workshops, first in collaboration with Biocoop then taking on private clients. It was great but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills, I was looking for a complimentary gig that would fit my new values and lifestyle. That’s when I remembered Christophe’s yoghurts, so I got in touch and he offered to train me so I could start my own production unit.
I officially started in late 2016, straight after my training with Christophe. I began in my kitchen with very small quantities to gain some practice as it’s not an easy method! But the main advantage is that very little equipment is needed: a couple of vats, a high-speed blender and a big whisk! I took a chance and exhibited at an organic trade show to test the market and meet potential stockists, and that was a great success!
What is your most and least favourite part of the job?
The most interesting part for me is to do events and sampling: having people taste the product, explain the savoir-faire, tell them about the benefits. My least favourite side is probably the parts of the production chain that are physically demanding, such as transporting heavy vats and cleaning big pieces of equipment. Thankfully we’ve found solutions!
How do you see the future of plant-based and vegan alternatives?
I believe plant-based products have a very bright future ahead of them because I think we’re at the beginning of not just a new movement, but a major shift in consumer awareness. I think we have a lot of opportunities coming up with La Crèmerie and I’m looking forward to grow together!