FOREST TO TABLE
Maryse Larose, co-owner with François Ménard
Les Marchands DuFrais, based in Granby
Les Marchands DuFrais are distributors of fresh mushrooms in season, and dehydrated or frozen mushrooms throughout the year.
Fresh mushrooms are supplied by pickers located mainly in the Eastern Townships, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. They account for 90% of the products distributed.
They also offer products derived from truffles and sell a line of fresh or frozen berries, supplemented year after year depending on what “their” pickers (who are independent suppliers) offer them. One week it’s blueberries, the next week it’s blackcurrants, or elderberries, and so on.
Their customers includes hotels, restaurants and caterers, along with a few gourmet grocers. The niche products from Les Marchands DuFrais are not found in supermarkets, as they are distributed to an exclusive clientele of fine connoisseurs (including Les Enfants Terribles!).
A happy mistake!
Entrepreneur couple Maryse and François had already been working for years in the wholesale distribution of perishable goods, in this case floristry, including evergreen branches used in Holiday decorations.
It was a mistake on the part of one of their suppliers which brought to their attention the existence of the niche market of mushroom distribution. This supplier had contacted them to offer his freshly picked mushrooms, piquing their curiosity and prompting them to ask questions on the topic. This picker directed them to Les Marchands DuFrais, a small business located in Montreal. Maryse and her husband bought the company in 2006, relocating it to Granby, where it is now based.
From 2006 to 2014, they ran both companies simultaneously. François focussed entirely on mushroom distribution, while Maryse devoted herself to the florist business, which they decided to sell in 2014. It is now she alone who directs Les Marchands DuFrais, with an expert hand and above all, with passion!
After undergoing training, both Maryse and her husband obtained certification as forest mushroom pickers. “It’s very important to know the products well,” explains Maryse. “We never buy mushrooms from people who are not in the business, who have not made their living picking mushrooms. It’s too easy to confuse a toxic mushroom with an edible mushroom. We don’t want to take risks.”
“What convinced me to devote myself full-time to this business is the extraordinary quality of the relationships I have with the chefs. It’s so nice to spend time with them. It makes me love my job a little more every day. They are understanding, interested and enthusiastic. I can’t imagine doing business with a better clientele.”
“The biggest challenge is getting adopted by customers, getting them to trust us and our products. When I took over Les Marchands DuFrais, I was afraid because I didn’t know anyone. I am very proud of what I have accomplished because four years later, I have managed to build excellent relationships with all our customers and pickers. I totally feel like I fit in. Customers recognize the quality of our products and trust us. That is precious.”
“The kindness of the chefs we do business with. What a nice surprise!”
“The relationships with my suppliers/pickers, our mutual trust. And their great loyalty and fidelity! Since 2006, only one of them has ceased operating (he became a gold prospector!). They are all passionate people who are very serious and professional. In our industry, quality of the supply is paramount. It’s the heart of the matter.”
“What I like most is when a chef makes a special request for a particular product I’m unfamiliar with. I was once asked if I had cattail hearts, for example. I had never heard of that before, so I started researching and finally found some! Our niche is really products that are not common. I love searching for beautiful discoveries.”
“For the name ‘Les Marchands DuFrais’ to be increasingly recognized. The greatest compliment I can receive is when a chef says, “Yes, yes, I know your name. I know that your mushrooms are wonderful!”
“And that one day, one of my daughters takes over. What a great transfer of a business that would be!”
“My husband left the company in 2014, and I found myself running it alone. That was quite a challenge. And it continues to be a challenge every day. Mission accomplished: I now go into the office every morning with great pleasure!”
Any dish that combines scallops and… mushrooms! — Obviously 😉
ENFANT TERRIBLE SINCE 2014
Les Marchands DuFrais
89 Rue de Gatineau, Granby, QC J2J 0P1
450 777 1051
Each month, we feature one of our suppliers, a local producer with whom we are proud and happy to work with.
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