How Diet Can Change Your Life

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!

Renée Lacroix
How to Invent a Unique Product

Who knew that contemplating a field could lead to a business venture? This is how Christophe Favrot, the man behind our rice delicacies, came about the idea of developing a plant-based yoghurt. Born and bred in Brittany, Christophe enjoyed a long academic and professional career and a few entrepreneurial stints before he cooked up (literally) this unique method of transforming rice into yoghurt.

Christophe single-handedly produced all our yoghurts from day one until the end of December. Now that our sales have grown beyond an artisanal level, we’ve had to transfer our production to a new manufacturing site (more about that in our next post). We’ve learned so much from our short time working with Christophe, he wasn’t only a teacher and a business partner, but also a mentor, an advisor and a friend. If La Crèmerie was able to grow so rapidly within a year, it’s without a doubt thanks to him. We’ve asked him a few questions to find out more about his interests and aspirations.

We at La Crèmerie describe you as the 'inventor of rice yoghurt'. Where did the idea come from and how did you go about developing this unique product?

I had a vision whilst contemplating a wheat field during a trip to Poland in May 2011. It was a true lightbulb moment: I had this sudden idea to develop a plant-based yoghurt made from grain. I first started by experimenting with cereal-based milks, but all my attempts were unsuccessful. The following winter, I shut myself in my kitchen for two weeks to make more thought-through fermentation tests, and the magic finally occurred! One day, one batch turned out with an extraordinary yoghurt taste, so I isolated the bacteria from this magical fermentation.

You started working with bacteria early in your career as a microbiologist and researcher. What do you find fascinating about bacteria?

Bacteria and yeast not only naturally help preserving foodstuffs, but they also make them better. Think of cheese, wine, cider and fermented vegetables such as kraut or kimchi!

You seem to have an incessant appetite for learning: on top of your multiple ventures, you also have a PhD in bioproduct chemistry, worked as a teacher, forestry consultant and recently finished an herbalist training. What drives and/or motivates you?

Yes, isn’t life itself a never-ending learning process? Everything is enthralling! Discovering the mysteries hidden behind nature and living beings is in my opinion an inspiration for our own existence. Fermentation processes, even if microscopic, also reveal with some very pertinent questions on a much bigger, macro-biologic scale. Learning about all the different aspects of biology gave me a lot of insight about life, especially in my encounters!

Now that you've handed over your own and La Crèmerie's production, what's coming next for you?

What I’m most passionate about in this plant-based yoghurt adventure is meeting all the individuals I trained since the beginning. Keeping a solid relationship with them is very important to me and I needed more time to do it properly. I’m still very much involved in this network, thanks to the strong links I’ve built with La Crèmerie and our suppliers. I will keep on supplying the bacteria, which I continue to grow with love. And for what’s next, well who knows what I’ll come up with?!

How to Design Amazing Packaging

Our packaging is one of the most talked about aspects of our brand, so for our first blog post we thought we’d introduce you to the designer behind La Crèmerie’s identity, Emmanuelle Goutal. Hailing from Paris, she moved to London in 2011 to undertake a Master’s in Graphic Design at the London College of Communication. After cutting her teeth with creative agencies such as Suburbia and Michael Nash Associates, she went on to start her own eponymous studio just over a year ago. We loved her clean, minimalist and high-end fashion style and gave her carte blanche to develop La Crèmerie’s branding.

The mood board we used to develop La Crèmerie's identity


What made you want to become a graphic designer & art director?

Growing up I always knew I wanted to do something artistic so after graduating from high school I decided to go to an art school. At first I decided to study product design but I quickly realised after doing some workshops at my school that I much preferred graphic design. The process was more direct than in product design which suited me better. I discovered about art direction when I started to work in agencies after I graduated. A lot of the clients were from the fashion industry so this is where I learned about fashion photography and art direction.

Where do you take your inspiration from?

It is a mix of research I do for each project and things I see, assimilate (exhibitions, travels, books etc.) All my work is research and concept driven so the inspirations are different for each project which is what I like about my job. Each project is different and I always discover new things through the creative process.

What is your favourite font?

It varies trough the years. My first favourite font when I started to learn about typography as a student was Lubalin Graph designed by Herb Lubalin in the 70’s. It is a serif version of Avant Garde. It’s elegant and friendly at the same time. I still like it very much today.

What does a typical working day in your life look like?

8.00 I wake up, read my first emails, have breakfast and a shower and then I walk to the studio where I work which is 30mn away from my house. I like this moment because I can start thinking about the things I have to do during the day and start organising things in my head. So when I arrive at the studio around 9 am I am focused and ready to work.

9.00 I start by writing down a list of the things I have to do. I reply to the first emails. And then I plug on Spotify and start working. I’m a morning person so I usually try to do all the creative work in the morning and leave the artworking / accountancy and emails to later in the day.

13.00 Lunch break. My studio is located near London Fields so no excuse for bringing bad sandwiches in front of the computer. I like to go to The Bread Station or on Broadway market. I also like to pass by Artworks Bookshop or Donlon Books on the way to check magazines and books. They both have great selections.

After that it depends on the day, sometimes I work all day at the studio, sometimes I have meetings with clients or collaborators. I usually work on several projects at the same time which I like to do. I find that jumping from one project to another helps creativity. The different type of work feed one another.

19.00 I usually try to leave work early. If I have to work late I would continue working from home after dinner.

Can you tell us the creative process behind the branding of La Crèmerie?

Renée the founder wanted something minimal and elegant for the branding of La Crèmerie. I thought we could do something that could visually work more like a beauty product than a food product. It was also important that the consumer understands quickly that the product does not use any dairy. The rice branch was a good advocate to enhance the vegan side of the product.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don’t like to project myself too much. My objectives are just to continue working for a wide variety of clients as I do now and maybe at some point expand the studio team - which is just me at the moment!

You can check out Emmanuelle’s work here.

Renée LacroixComment