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Meet Team Ile de France

Sebastien Lehembre is from the South of France and specializes in bringing French cheeses and cuisine to the U.S. “Cheese is an integral part of my culture and lifestyle, there is so much enjoyment in eating cheese, and it’s no coincidence that it is such an important part of French meals.”

Sébastien is working to bring the best French cheeses to the U.S.A., working closely with cheese makers to ensure that only the best quality cheeses come across the Atlantic.

How did you develop a passion for food?
It might seem a little bit cliché, but being born and raised in France, food has always been part of my culture. At a young age, I was exposed to cooking with my mum and grandmother. My family never spent hours in the kitchen but truly believe that the freshest ingredients make marvelous dishes. Some people might think it’s crazy, but it is not uncommon for French people to spend 4-6 hours sitting at the dining table enjoying good company, good dishes, good wines and of course good cheeses!

What is it about cheese that made it stand out to you as a favorite food?
I believe that with cheese there are endless possibilities! With endless possibilities come endless flavor profiles. When you think about it, there is nothing as versatile as cheese: Appetizer, Entrée, and Dessert, you name it, you will always find a place for cheese. Just on our website we have more than 500 recipes, from the traditional French cheese platter, to St Andre Ice Cream, Chaumes tartellette and trendy new items like verrines and spoons!

There is such diversity in cheeses that whatever your taste preferences are you will find one to fall in love with.

Take brie, for example. It does not seem like it but there is a huge diversity about Brie. The percentage of fat in the dry matter will directly impact the flavor profile of the cheese (among other things of course). You might see on packaging, single, double or triple (extra creamy) Brie. This is direct relation to the flavor profile you’ll find: single cream will have more assertive flavor, double cream like the Ile de France will be creamy with mushrooms undertones while a triple cream will have much more buttery tones.

Do you have any advice for people who have never cooked with French cheeses?
We have 500 more recipes on our website, pick one or two cheeses you know you like, and browse the recipes available with these cheeses to start planning your next cooking experience. Invite a few friends to enjoy the cheeses along with some beer or wine and enjoy it together (responsibly). Nothing needs to be sophisticated, or take hours to prepare.

What is you favorite memory of dining in France?
This is a tough one! I really like going out with my friends to local Bistros and try unique dishes.

How do you create a French flair to your home entertaining in the U.S.?
Working in the cheese industry, my guests always expect to have cheese at the end of the dinner, and I never let them down! I always try to get something easy to find at local stores and make a nice cheese platter. This is an easy and great way to discover different cheese types coming from different milk types and categories. During the winter, I really like to have my guests try a Fondue Savoyard or a Raclette. During spring season, I love to make an Endive salad with cubes of Comte and sliced golden served with Jervez vinegar, salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil. During the summer, nothing is better than a blue cheese burger from the grill.

All time favorite dish?
Difficult to say, being from the South of France, my heart would say Bouillabaisse but I also love a good steak covered with a Roquefort sauce and shallots.

Favorite cheese?
I love Beaufort, because it takes a lot of knowledge to make and age. The flavor profile is just fantastic. I’m also a big fan of St Agur, it is such a wonderful blue cheese, very creamy and almost buttery with a true blue character.

In the next few weeks, we will also have our Ile de France Camembert new recipe in the USA, coming from Normandy.

It is absolutely phenomenal – reminiscent of the best Camembert you’ll find in fine creameries .

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