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?!