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Gilles Hervy

  • Region:
  • Address:
    Guérande, France

In about 1996, Kitty Keller was in Northwestern France visiting the mother of a dear friend of hers, who lived in Anjou. This charming elderly Frenchwoman made her a lovely, three-course lunch featuring fleur de sel from neighboring Brittany. One taste of this moist, delicate “flower of salt” with its clean, briny taste of the sea, and Kitty knew she had to have some for her own kitchen—which, of course, meant importing it for all to experience.

The son-in-law of this same woman was working for a local chamber of commerce, and—at his mother-in-law’s bidding—he spent several days dialing fleur de sel producers. After interviewing several salt vendors, Kitty Keller found Gilles Hervy, who stood out for several reasons: he was from Guérande, considered the best and most prestigious location for producing fleur de sel; he was the single artisan paludier (salt farmer) of the group, hand-harvesting the salt himself and overseeing the entire process; and he had an unshakeable ethical stance.

Gilles insisted on selling his salt production directly to the public, rather than to the local cooperative that occasionally supplemented its stock with Portugues salt. He only sold his fantastic salt products in unbranded one-pound sacks at his roadside truck or in food stores and health salons around France.

With a firm conviction in the quality of Gilles Hervy’s salt, Kitty decided to develop attractive branded packaging that would prove successful in the U.S. market. She bought Gilles’ Fleur de Sel and Sel Gris in 50 pound sacks, packaged it, and promoted it. Now, Gilles Hervy is a bona fide brand throughout the U.S. and carried by outstanding retailers.

To this day, Gilles Hervy remains an artisan paludier in Guérande, working mostly with his family and waxing philosophic about nature and life. He continues to send his fantastic, authentic salt products to us.