There is this idea, probably not all that inaccurate, that the French people believe in their heart of hearts they have achieved the highest version of any number of life skills. Be it matters of love, literature, language or art, you name it, and chances are there’s a Frenchman around to tell you La République perfected it first.
While such a claim is sure to spark some debate, depending on the crowd you’re with, it would be difficult to argue the French haven’t cornered the market on one particularly beloved and ubiquitous food: cheese.
So when Mickael Loiodice first landed in Whistler four years ago, he understandably missed the food and culinary culture of his homeland—and in particular, the small restaurant run by his parents in the French Alp ski village of Morzine, where he began making pizzas at the tender age of five.
“Sometimes you’re going to the ski resorts and you stop by maybe a friend’s place or a small restaurant with a grandmother doing a specific dish in the back and you pay like 10 Euros for an entrée and dessert and maybe coffee. And if you know people, they will maybe give you some liquor, homemade,” Loiodice muses. “People who open a restaurant in France have a big passion for food and want to share the very best.”
Loiodice, who works for Whistler Blackcomb, began bringing home select cheeses from his trips to France. Soon enough, he would be fielding requests to bring back this or that product, or come over to cook one of his patented fondue dinners. Loiodice saw not only a business opportunity, but a chance to share a piece of his culture with Whistler. Thus, French’eese was born, a delivery service that brings custom-made French cheese and charcuterie boxes right to your door, as well as fondue dinners right to your kitchen.
All the cheeses are selected specifically by Loiodice himself for their premium quality, and imported from French farms, with the vast majority coming with a protected designation of origin, which means they have been vetted for their quality, authenticity and traceability. (I was fortunate enough to sample a handful of the cheeses, including the flavourful, 12-month-aged Comté and a gooey, to-die-for Saint-Marcellin. Still drooling.)
Loiodice is as eager to source quality products as he is to share the stories behind them. He is well versed in how each cheese is made, and the often-centuries-old recipes behind them, as well as the farmers who have perfected their craft over generations.
“It’s important to know these stories,” he said. “Sometimes you go to the restaurant, and you can have your dishes, but you don’t know anything about them. Every time I try to know what kind of ingredients are inside, who is making it and everything, so when you taste it, you say, ‘Wow, it’s crazy. Where did you get this? How do they do that?’ You need to be interesting.”
Being in a ski town that borrows much of its après culture from Europe, Loiodice is entering a market that, up until a few years ago, had a long tradition of fondue and raclette thanks to the Bavaria Restaurant that operated where Pizzeria Antico now sits. (Nick North still does a great fondue in the winter months as well.)
For now, at least, Loiodice plans to keep French’eese a mobile business, with aspirations of one day setting up a small shop, where he can offer a small slice of the French Alps right here in Whistler.
“Sometimes, in Europe, everybody grabs a bottle of wine and one kind of cheese and we share that around the table. This is the best time ever, because we share experiences and we share everything and it’s good. It’s what we like and what we miss a little bit here,” he said. “So I’m very happy for these things. I want to give the best experience to everybody who has never been to a French farm, for example, or they have been and they miss the French cheese.”
For more info and to order, head to frencheesewhistler.com.