Our Philosophy

Their memories

Albertine Nadeau

Grand opening of the rillettes preparation room and cutting workshop at Maison Prunier. Albertine Nadeau is on the right, in white.

"In 1936, I was hired as a cook at Maison Coudray. All the staff had a 4 o’clock snack of rillettes. It was a luxury at the time! The owners and the staff got on really well. It was a very open establishment and people were always pleased to visit. The farmers always stopped for a coffee with us when they delivered their pigs. Then Miss Coudray married Mr Prunier. I worked for them and the atmosphere was still as good. In the 1970s there were over a hundred employees at Prunier. It was a big family."

Marie-Josèphe Baron

In 1956, Marie-Josèphe Baron joined Prunier as a cashier in the shop and went on to help Paulette Prunier with the accounts as secretary of Maison Prunier.

"It has changed a lot in fifty years! At the time, the jewel in the Prunier crown was the shop. You should have seen the queue on a Sunday morning! Customers came for the freshly prepared pork specialities: black pudding, andouillettes, head, trotters, kidneys, rillons and rillettes! Our port galantine and armagnac pâté were very popular. The shop was open seven days a week, from 6.30am to 7.30pm, except Sunday afternoons. Even though there were up to a hundred and fifty staff in the early 1970s, the atmosphere was still very friendly. There was often a good excuse to pop a champagne cork: whenever we broke our record for sales of rillettes or won a first prize. At first I was also responsible for deliveries. I remember packaging our products for long ship journeys. I would write the destination on the wooden crates in Indian ink: Dakar, Abidjan, Casablanca…"

Although there were about one hundred and fifty five people in the company at the beginning of the seventies, it was still a family atmosphere. At each event, either a top sale of rillettes or the awarding of a first price, we celebrated it with champagne and biscuits! At the beginning, I was also in charge of the delivery department. I still remember when I was preparing the parcels full of tins which were shipped far away. I was writing on the wooden boxes with Chinese ink: Dakar, Abidjan, Casablanca»

 

Gérard Blot

Gérard Blot was head of rillettes in the 1960s.

"At the time, we started work early in the morning to begin cooking. Twenty-seven pots of a hundred kilos, each with a log fire. The pieces of meat, the freshly boned pork chops and pig’s tails began cooking in the fat leftover from the previous day. Once we’d had a little snack, we headed for the abattoir. There were between sixteen and eighteen men who scraped, gutted, cut and boned the pigs, sixty a day, as well as young pigs and sows. Then we cut and prepared the meat for the next day. Next, back to cooking the rillettes. Each of us took care of a pot, sorted the bones and began beating, for about eight to ten minutes. You had to have a strong wrist! Then, in teams of three, we prepared the moulds and terrines. The first person handed the moulds, the second filled them with a ladle and the third put them on the trolley. Then, in the 1970s, private abattoirs were outlawed. We stopped making a range of less profitable products such as cooked ham, andouillette and dried sausage. I liked it in those days, when Prunier made up to 85 different products. We had so much know-how and everyone knew the whole spectrum of our trade. We went to pick up the pigs, we killed them, we cut them up and we made the products. All with next to no waste! I remember Léonard, all dressed in white, when he used to come to the factory with his grandfather. He must have been between 6 and 9 years old. Ah yes, we all remember that!"

Claude Dupont

Claude Dupont joined Prunier as an apprentice in 1966 at the age of fourteen. He passed his butcher’s examination four years later.

"Back then, everyone was an all-rounder. We worked in the abattoir, in the kitchens and in the salting workshops. I was more specialised in cooking: andouilles, hams, pork belly, heads for brawn and pâté. We were always trying new things. I remember that we would invent new recipes for cassoulet or tripes. There was a really friendly atmosphere in the company. Maurice Prunier worked alongside us. He was a father figure to us youngsters and he always acknowledged when we did good work. I was in charge of the stoves in the seventies and in 1985 I was appointed head of the pâté workshop for the afternoon shift. I witnessed the company shift from a family business to a modern enterprise. Today, there are more separations between different people; there are more walls, even in the workshops, for food safety reasons. So meetings are really important. It’s vital to talk to each other!"

Jean-Pierre Cossonneau

"I joined Maison Prunier at the age of fifteen, in 1967. I studied for my butchery exams on a block release system and tried my hand at all the various jobs: one day I would be in the black pudding workshop or cooking heads, the next day I’d be stocking the shop. In the end I knew everybody’s job and could stand in for anyone during the holidays. I had a beard and Mr Maurice - that’s what we called Mr Prunier - used to joke that “a man with a beard should be able to turn his hand to anything!"

I remember Mr Maurice arriving in the morning, putting on his apron and working with us in the workshops. He cut meat in the mornings and beat the rillettes in the afternoon. He was a stickler for hygiene. Masks were introduced in the seventies. At first they were only worn for cooking or handling hot food (beating cooked rillettes by hand and filling pots or moulds). But even before that, we had a strict uniform with rubber boots and fabric aprons.

Beating rillettes is like making homemade mayonnaise, you have to get the fat to stick. It takes some practice to get it right. You have to add the pork juices little by little and to beat you need to hold the spatula just right. Beating takes 20-25 minutes for an 80kg pot. Then we added the extra pieces of meat we had set aside.

"When the pâté workshop moved to rue de la Jatterie, I took over responsibility for rillettes, first of all in the town centre, rue Nationale, where I even took care of dispatching deliveries, then on rue de la Jatterie from October 1997. I became head of rillettes production in January 2001 when I took over from Jean Perigois. I’ve been with Maison Prunier for 41 years. That’s quite something!"

Jean-Claude Lubineau

Now retired, Jean-Claude Lubineau joined Prunier at the age of fourteen. Maurice Prunier passed on his know-how and Jean-Claude managed production for twenty-five years. He is moved when he looks back...

"I joined Prunier as an apprentice in 1963. After my apprenticeship, I had to go and do my military service, but they kept my job for me when I got back. Maison Prunier regularly sent its employees parcels of rillettes and other specialities when they were doing their military service. Ah! Smooth pâté with mushrooms. It took a while for that idea to catch on. Mr Maurice wouldn’t hear of mousses! Yet in the seventies, the trend was spreadable pâté and consumers had acquired a taste for smoother textures. We made traditional firm pâtés and other excellent products such as rabbit pâté, chef’s terrine and port-flavoured pâté but they weren’t really spreadable. I went on a training course in Paris. I learnt to make pâtés with a “cutter”, a sort of big electric whisk. I remember having a conversation with Mr Prunier when I got back:

- So, Jean-Claude, what did you learn?
- Smooth pâté with mushrooms. Here, have a taste.
- Ah! Mousses... Yes, we’ll have to do them. OK, let’s start tomorrow.

We did it and they sold well, so we invested in a bigger cutter. Today, Smooth pâté with mushrooms is our number one seller!"

Guy Robin

Administrative and financial director from 1992 to 2006, now retired, Guy Robin joined the company in 1979 as accountant and administration manager:

"My career path followed the company’s growth curve. When I joined, I discovered a family business, which was a new environment for me. My bosses were interested in what I had to say and I was encouraged to give my opinions. There were times when I doubted myself and I was even quite scared of the boss. I didn’t understand Christian Prunier’s style. It was very different to his father’s. Then one day something triggered when he said: “Stop being scared of me. Talk to me.” I finally got the message that he expected me to be on the same intellectual level as him, on the same wavelength. We became closer and built up a strong relationship. We even ended up on first name terms. I realised he was a good listener and a gentle, direct, candid communicator with great respect for people. He recognised his weaknesses and could discuss personal troubles, both his own and ours. There was a great sense of well-being in the company."

Frédéric Guittard

Frédéric Guittard joined the company in 1990 and made a great contribution to its development. He is currently sales and marketing director.

"Our sales doubled when we developed specialised retail chains and wholesales. Today they represent over 40% of our turnover. I appreciate the trusting relationship I have with Christian Prunier. Thanks to him, I have been able to develop my role with plenty of independence. Maison Prunier relies on individual personal development through communication, with no judgement or criticism, with respect, by comparing points of view rather than opposing each other. We have also learnt to manage stress and pressure, in part thanks to the seminars with Jacques Salomé on relations within companies."

Luc Chauvelier

Luc Chauvelier

Technical manager, Luc Chauvelier joined Maison Prunier in 1992 and is also responsible for maintenance and extensions.

"Christian Prunier is a singular character but the most surprising thing about his style of management is the freedom he gives us. It is very gratifying on both a professional and personal level. Each department is autonomous but we discuss everything with the other departments. It is an extremely friendly company and we take real pleasure in our work for Maison Prunier. There is no rivalry between us because we value everyone’s skills. And we take part in discussions about company strategy."

Carine Rapicault

Carine  Rapicault

"Quality is above all logic and simplicity. I work in all aspects of production in the company. I take samples at various steps in the chain, I taste products, perform bacteriological tests and check that our suppliers comply with our specifications. I am the contact for food safety services, consumer protection services and customers if there are any complaints. I also ensure compliance with hygiene rules within the company. Prunier is an unusual company with principles on respecting staff, catering for their needs and ensuring their well-being. I have noticed that, thanks to this approach, people get on very well and work together with great cohesion. When there are problems, the rule is not to hide them, not to feel guilty and to express stress. That creates serenity in the workplace."