Ratinaud: land of salty fatty goodness

When he was a kid, his grandmother made him paté de campagne. Now, Frederic Tandy makes it for the rest of us in Halifax.

Tandy is the owner of Ratinaud, a small charcuterie shop located on Gottingen Street. He grew up in Limosges and went to culinary school at 15. A few years ago he started working in Nova Scotia, first at The Celtic Lodge, but restaurants weren’t his thing. He wanted to make the food he loved. After selling his wares at local markets, today Frederic sells his patés and terrines, along with all sorts of salumerie in his own storefront.

I recently had the occasion to write an article for an upcoming issue of East Coast Living all about charcuterie. Tandy was kind enough to sit and talk to me about his love of all things salty and fatty.

How did you end up in Halifax?

I always wanted to come to Canada. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know why. Since I was this tall, I want to come to Canada. I think I always was attracted by the big spaces and I love nature. I mean France is beautiful but it’s hard to find spot where there is not too many people. When I first arrive at the Celtic Lodge, I arrived at night, so I had no idea where I was. And in the morning, when I woke up, it was like, “Wow.” Totally my expectation, I had a picture in my head and when I woke up, it was that. Nature everywhere.

How did Ratinaud come about? Where does the name come from?

It is the family name on my mom’s side, my grandparents. They used to come get us on Wednesday and we used to go a bit on the weekend.

Were they in Limoges?

They were half an hour away in Saint-Sulpice-Lauriere, a very small country village. They used to have their own rabbits and chicken and my grandparents had a little piece of land in the woods so we used to go pick fresh mushrooms and stuff. They were cooking a lot so after I was done in high school, I had to make a choice, whether general school or if I was gonna go to something more professional. So I decided cooking school, because I didn’t feel like a general school would be any good to me and I am really into cooking, so let’s go into this branch. Actually, after the first year,  the more I loved it. This is really a passion for me and after starting working in a restaurant it was just amazing. I really loved it.

From that how did you start making your own charcuterie?

Well I always want to go into my own business eventually. I wanted to do something in here that you couldn’t finds, I wanted to do something different because I find there is a lot of restaurant and foodies everywhere, but a lot of people are doing the same thing. I think if I want to be successful I have to try and do something different. So I start with well, why not start by doing things like patés. And it takes some time because that’s the type of products people don’t really know. But it was going well, so I thought it was time to open my own space.

So what was the reaction when you first started?

There is the people who kind of look at you like, “What are you doing?”, and there are the other people and some of them know about it and are curious or people who travel quit a bit or know those types of products. Since I open the place here, I am able to try and make my products, and it makes a big difference, especially when you get new customers, because they are not familiar but once they try it, they say, “oh yeah”, this could be good for party or this or that.

What are the differences between cultures in how they view charcuterie, vis-à-vis France and here?

It’s totally different. The purpose of it, everybody uses it for the same purpose, usually as a way of platters for parties or for starters, but in France we eat it every day. Here, for most of the people it is for a special occasion, it is not a regular thing or maybe once or twice a week. It’s just a culture thing.