Today, in the series of notable Parisians who changed their career in order to follow their passion, let me introduce you to: Lise Bienaimé, the founder of La Chambre aux Confitures, a shop dedicated entirely to jams.
Lise decided about a year ago, after more than 10 years of experience in marketing for famous beauty companies, to quit her job and start her own business. The courageous woman, who would never have thought about one day having her own store and brand, follows in her great grandfather’s footsteps by opening her own ‘épicerie fine’, specialized in jams (and all that is related to them in taste, color and texture).
The idea of ‘épicerie fine’ is a very French concept; at the beginning of the 20th century very small specialty ‘supermarkets’ started developing in French cities. There was no self-service at the time. Instead, what was important was the direct contact with the costumer, the guidance and advice on different products and the quality of the merchandise. The hectic pace and the stressful lifestyle slowly transformed those places in simple proximity supermarkets, that are often more expensive than the big chains, but useful in emergency cases. Today, with the slow food movement and the re-appreciation of food and taking time to eat, the traditional ‘épicerie fine’ celebrates a real comeback.
Lise Bienaimé decided to specialize in jams, as it is one of her personal passions. As a gourmand and a gourmet (a gourmand is someone who loves to eat and a gourmet someone who loves the good quality of his food), she appreciates the quality of food, as well as its celebration. She takes time to develop every single one of her recipes together with specialists. The jams are guaranteed homemade, without artificial ingredients or funny chemicals. Lise says that jam is a food that we often link to our childhood, but even as adults we can appreciate it. It has many facets, which permit playfulness and creativity both in its making and its use: you can eat it by the spoon, put it on your baguette in the morning or integrate it into your cooking for appetizers, mains, desserts or cocktails.
Lise had a pretty original idea opening a jam store, as it is currently unique in France. The originality also lies in the fact that you can open and try all the products, in order to make the right choice. The stores offer a huge variety of different jams (according to seasonal preferences), chutneys, special jams to go with cheese, fois gras and other salted dishes, as well as chocolate and caramel creams. A must is also the ‘Friponne’, which is specially designed to be eaten directly with a spoon out of the jar; ‘châtaigne faà§on marron glacé’ (candied chestnut) is my personal favorite and absolutely addictive!
Lise isn’t thinking about opening more stores yet as her priority is to guarantee the quality of her products, which is not possible if she expands too much. For now she is content with her two Parisian stores of La Chambre aux Confitures, exporting to Japan and of course, the United States. New Yorkers seem to love ‘les confitures’ and so do I, so I recommend you to visit Lise and try her latest Christmas specials!