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The French are passionate about everything! Never more so than with their cheeses, and if there is one extremely successful, family-run business that exemplifies this then it has to be Fromagerie Mons.
And how wonderfully fortunate are we, in the Roannais region of the Rhone-Alpes, to have this Affineur of fine cheeses right on our doorstep.
Many year’s ago we had been pointed in the direction of the Mons Fromagerie inHalles Diderot, a fabulous high quality indoor market in Roanne. Having been told that they were simply the best place to purchase cheese, not only for quality, but also breadth of choice – they sell a range of over 230 different cheeses throughout the year.
The Auvergnat , as Mons was originally named, was founded in 1965 by Hubert and Rolande Mons.
They started by selling on local markets and from a truck selling door to door. Their high quality and constant search for new products quickly won them praise and recognition in the cheese world. As is often the case with successful companies.
From these historic small beginnings a high quality business was born. In the 1980’s when Hervé and Laurent, the sons, started working with their parents the company took great steps forward; with the opening of new stores in les Halles of Roanne, Renaison, Montbrison… and the development of an affinage operation in Saint Haon le Chatel in the Cote Roannaise.
During the 1990’s the company was recognized for its excellence and its know-how, and obtains an agreement to supply the Relais and Châteaux, and Accord Groups.
Fromagerie Mons serves the best restaurants and cheese shops around the world, including some of the royal tables.
A few years ago, the company started fulfilling an international demand : Mons now sells to more than 10 different countries throughout Europe, including the USA and Japan).
Today, The Auvergnat has become Maison Mons – Fromager Affineur, managed by Hervé Mons. After starting under his father training, Hervé went to study with the famous cheesemongers such as Jacques Vernier and Christian Cantin. In 2000 he was awarded Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best artisan of France, the highest recognition one can achieve in the field of affinage.
In 2002 he receives the title of Best Fromager by the Gastronomic Pudlo Guide. Congrilait, the most important worldwide event of the dairy industry, asked him to organize its 2002 show. The Sirha contacted him for its 2003 International contest of the best cheese board. And this is only a part of his personal and business achievements.
In 2004 he created, with his brother Laurent Mons, a training school Opus Caseus Concept for their customers and other people who want to know more about how cheese is made and its flavour refined.
In 2005 he organised the first International competition Caseus Award, made up of the best cheese makers from 12 countries. In 2006, Maison Mons arrived in the London at the famous Borough Market and created the company Mons UK with a young cheese maker Mr Jonathan Thrupp who has learned the cheese arts with the Maison Mons. Mons also set their feet firmly in Montbrison with the opening of a shop with another of our prodigious students Cedric Lenoir, who took the shop on as a new adventure.
In 2007 we opened the boutique Marechal in the Halles de Lyon, which is run by Etienne Boissy (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2004) who has been with Maison Mons for many years now.
Most important of all, Hervé Mons travels all over France, searching for the best cheeses, particularly from those farmers who are still using traditional methods of production. Then the cheeses are matured in the Mons caves to develop their aromas and taste. This is why today, Maison Mons is the official supplier of the best tables around the world and is recognized as the benchmark in specialty cheeses. Maison Mons keeps its roots locally meanwhile recruiting a professional team in each of its shops, and at the same time developing the export market thanks to its extensive range, and unparalleled expertise. Today Miason Mons has 22 people working at its caves in the Roannais, 155 clients in France, and many clients in 19 countries, 130 individual producers in France, 4 cheese shops, and about 190 different cheeses aging throughout the year. Affinage Cheese Aging will always be the heart of the operation.
In 2009 Mons are continuing to expand and are developing a new entity La Compagnie d’Affinage des Caves de la Collogne, which is unique in its realm. They have recuperated and restored an old train tunnel and transformed it into a cheese aging tunnel. This project will be completed in July 2009, and will allow Mons to really differentiate their products from the rest with an unprecedented environment and care for all their many cheeses, leaving Maison Mons with an exclusive range of high quality.products.
Maison Mons is always looking forward.
Fromagerie Mons are specialists in the true sense of the word. For this reason they supply all of the ‘top’ restaurants in the area, and beyond. They, in fact, export all over the world – from the USA, UK, Norway, and Australia, to Russia, Japan, China, and Spain. Our, eagerly awaited, recent visit to their headquarters and storage caves in Saint-Haon-le-Châtel in the Roannais, has now added a further dimension to our understanding and love of cheese. It would have been extremely difficult not to share the passion and excitement that exudes from the Co-owner and Director, Laurent Mons, and his Quality Control Manager.
On our arrival at the Fromagerie, we were first greeted, surprisingly, by a youthful, and enthusiastic American, Eric Meredith. We were amazed to learn that he had come to work at Mons only 2 years ago from a cuisine and nutrition background in New York. He is now responsible for Quality Control at Fromagerie Mons. Although now Fluent in French, Eric led us through the various stages of cheese affination (the development, nurturing, and flavour refinement of cheeses brought in from 110 small farm producers) in English – which we much appreciated. It would have been tragic to miss out on any snippets of the deluge of information that was fired confidently, and concisely, in our direction. ‘Passion’ seems too subtle a word to describe Eric’s love and understanding of the whole cheese process. He really does live and breath his work. He is totally dedicated. It is a vocation, not just a job! To achieve the continued quality for which Fromagerie Mons is reputed this is the only way.
From regular liaison with the many suppliers to hands-on nurturing of the varying types of cheese, Eric’s knowledge is outstanding. He treats each cheese (in fact, each batch) individually, regulating temperature, humidity, position within the different caves, whether the cheese should be kept wrapped or unwrapped (and if so, what in), and on what the cheese should rest – great slabs of wood, or straw matting. All in the name of quality of taste refinement! Eric understands the nuances of the chemical processes that create, ripen, and develop cheese. He is a true connoisseur. An intelligent, scientific approach, but with enormous passion and dedication to the art of affinage (refining of a cheese) After our superb tour we visited Laurent Mons in the board room. He is ‘fired’ by the love of not only his cheeses, and his historic family business, but also of the Roannais region, full of its many gastronomic delights. Rarely have I found in the UK such true adoration of a business. Fromagerie Mons is exceptional. A successful, entrepreneurial, family-run company.
Also visit our other Purefrancenow Reviews: Fromagerie Mons, Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
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