In the food hall with Laurent Tregaro, our head food buyer.
A key member of our team at La Grande Épicerie de Paris, our expert Laurent Tregaro has selected, in his 33 years working for the store, more than 10,000 food items. Join him in the food hall and discover his favourites and newest finds, all selected with the same passion for a ‘good product’.
How did you become head food buyer at La Grande Épicerie de Paris?
“My role at La Grande Épicerie de Paris has evolved over the years. During my career, I’ve worked in different departments, starting with self-service fresh foods. Gradually, I became specialised in food hall products, managing purchases. This additional experience allowed me to participate in all stages of selecting products, from sourcing to placement on the shelves.
Through this I developed a passion for high-quality products. I love discovering them and introducing them to our customers. And by spending time with customers in-store, I learned how to target their needs, by offering good products at good prices. This combination is always necessary for me to keep stocking a product!
I also travel about ten times a year, to find new specialities during international exhibitions, supplier visits or sourcing abroad. These events help us to keep up with the latest trends.
How do you recognise a good product?
A good product is first and foremost a product that is interesting from the point of view of taste. It must also present something new, original or aesthetically pleasing, like sleek packaging. I also take its cost into consideration, since I need to offer it at a fair price in the store. I also pay attention to its ingredients; I try to give preference to organic and fair-trade ingredients as much as possible, and those certified by quality labels.
My aim is for our customers to appreciate our products, for them to want to share them, to introduce people to them themselves.
Tell us about the food hall: how did you come up with the selection, now made up of thousands of products?
Certain families of products, such as the teas, jams and chocolate, were always here, and make up the true essence of La Grande Épicerie de Paris. Over time, we added speciality items that seemed appropriate to us, such as the world food selection. The range of biscuits was also supplemented with a few artisan products, to become a staple of the store.
We construct our range so as to maintain a good balance between everyday products and the most emblematic speciality items.
The diversity of our offer also encourages our customers to try new products and expand their knowledge. This product-focused culture is very important to us, and is reflected in our departments. We now provide more information on our products, with explanatory signs giving each person the information they require to choose the product they need.
What links are there between food hall products and gastronomy?
I’m often in contact with suppliers, and we often talk about the products, but we also discuss trends and customer expectations. Certain products have made it onto the shelves, whereas they weren’t intended for sale. These include, for example, products used by chefs, such as praline filling or Valrhona chocolates. We adapted them to our clientele so as to offer them in the store, without altering the product or compromising its quality.
La Grande Épicerie de Paris often offers exclusive products to its customers. Tell us about a product that has recently impressed you:
These exclusive products are the result of meetings with chefs or producers, or related to themed events in the store. For example, last year we offered the panettone of Georges V chef Simone Zanoni during the Christmas holidays. This Italian speciality, soft like brioche and coffee-flavoured, was met with great enthusiasm. The chef perfected the recipe and we then collaborated to develop the appropriate packaging for his product. We will surely work with the chef again on new recipes.
La Grande Épicerie de Paris propose souvent des exclusivités à ses clients. Parlez-nous d’une référence qui vous a marqué dernièrement :
Ces exclusivités sont le fruit de rencontres avec des chefs, des producteurs, ou liées aux thématiques en magasin. L’année dernière, nous avons par exemple proposé le panettone du chef du Georges V Simone Zanoni durant les fêtes de Noël. Cette spécialité italienne, tendre comme une brioche, parfumée au café avait rencontré un vif succès. Le chef a mis au point la recette, nous avons ensuite collaboré pour développer un packaging adapté, servant son produit. Nous retravaillerons certainement avec le chef autour de nouvelles recettes.
What are your four favourites, sweet and savoury, from La Grande Épicerie de Paris?
I recommend tasting the pesto La Favorita, a creamy and savoury sauce worthy of a home-made pesto – as if you had made it yourself! You can serve it with pasta from Italian producer Benedetto Cavalieri, for a perfect Italian pasta dish: penne, farfalle or fusilli... all of their products are of the utmost quality.
I also recommend Nagua Gold rice, a pure white Thai rice of exceptional quality. Sometimes I eat it alone, to enjoy all of its flavours and its texture.
As for our sweet products, the guanaja chocolate from Valrhona is a delicate dark chocolate that lingers on the palate. It can be enjoyed at any time of day.”