Enjoy 5 issues for just £5 Subscribe to one of our France Magazines click here

How did these expats turn their hobby into a business?

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 January 2017

Simon, Kate, Emma and Max run Duck & Truffle in Dordogne

Simon, Kate, Emma and Max run Duck & Truffle in Dordogne

Archant

A love of food and wine inspired two expat couples to set up a business running gourmet weekends and wine tours in Dordogne - find out how they did it

What is Duck & Truffle?

Duck & Truffle is run by four friends living in Dordogne – Kate, Emma, Max and Simon. They run wine tours and gourmet weekends in Dordogne during the quieter winter months

How did you come up with the idea of Duck & Truffle?

Just over a year ago, after a long working week, husband and wife Simon Batt and Kate Jones were enjoying a catch up with their friends, Emma Mayes and Max Pesce over good food and wine at one of the local restaurants in Dordogne. The gourmet get-togethers had become a feature of the couples’ routines since they moved to the region, but on this particular night as the wine flowed and the food kept coming, talk turned to the possibility of the foursome running gourmet tours, taking in foodie finds like the one they had discovered that night, in the area that they had come to call home.

“We just love Dordogne,” says Kate. “For us, it’s all about the wine, food and history and we just thought it would be great to share the place we live and love with others,” she says of the group’s reasoning to undertake such a project.

___________________________________________________________________________

Related articles

What is it like to move to France on your own?

How to find a job in France

___________________________________________________________________________

Lunch venue La Tour des Vents in DordogneLunch venue La Tour des Vents in Dordogne

How did the idea develop?

With Italian sommelier Max on board, trips to the region’s myriad vineyards and wine-tasting sessions were an obvious starting point to the itinerary but as the quartet bounced ideas back and fourth, all sorts of activities including yoga were on the table to start with before they concluded it was best to keep things simple. “We were over-complicating things,” says Kate. “In the end we just decided to get people out here to enjoy what we enjoy, which is basically eating and drinking.” The same back-to-basics approach came into play when it came to thinking up a name for the business. “We do what it says on the tin,” Kate says of the brand name.

Noticing that visitor numbers dropped during the winter, it was decided that the gourmet tours would take place in the off-peak season, giving a boost to businesses when they most needed it. “The trouble with Dordogne is that it’s a very seasonal part of France. In the summer you can’t move and in the winter everything shuts and it dies down a little bit,” Kate explains.

Bergerac vineyardsBergerac vineyards

How did local businesses react to the idea?

The set timeframe of late September to mid-May was an element that was particularly welcomed by the area’s restaurants and hotels for whom every little bit of publicity helps in the quieter months. “They thought the idea was fantastic because business drops off for them slightly in the winter,” Kate explains. “They have customers of course, but they will still have empty hotel rooms. We told them we were very happy to promote them and so we linked up.”

Businesses that they partnered up with included Michelin-starred restaurants as well as boutique B&Bs and more rustic, romantic accommodation and low-key places to eat and drink; an eclectic mix that Kate hopes will appeal to a wide range of people. “I think it’s important to offer people different things – not everyone wants to stay somewhere really posh,” she says. “Some people like something a bit more homely, somewhere to bed down. It’s up to us to try and find alternatives.”

Not only has Duck & Truffle paired up with everyone and anyone in Dordogne’s hospitality sector, it has now started to branch out to other areas of French life, including hosting weekends that are based on books by local author Martin Walker whose fiction novels are set in the Périgord area of Dordogne. “We just try to keep everything local,” Kate says of their networking approach. “It’s our passion.”

“We try to involve the restaurants and everybody around us so it’s not just about us four. It’s trying to get everyone working together out here,” Kate explains.

___________________________________________________________________________

Related articles

Beautiful B&Bs set up by expats in France

What is it like to live in Cordes-sur-Ciel?

___________________________________________________________________________

Gourmet weekend accommodation at Vieux Logis in DordogneGourmet weekend accommodation at Vieux Logis in Dordogne

What is everyone’s role in the business?

Italian-born Max is a qualified sommelier with more than 25 years experience in Relais & Châteaux and Michelin-starred restaurants. He runs the wine tours and Simon escorts the guests around the various venues and is a support to Max, while Emma takes care of the marketing and Kate deals with the financial side.

They all bring their different skills to the business, each playing a key role in its success. But although each has their own responsibilities, they all very much work as a team, as Kate explains. “We probably don’t have defined roles as such because we’re all so involved with everything. We all sort of muck in,” she says. “It’s a pretty well-balanced relationship that we have. It is really, really lovely.”

It was undoubtedly a meeting of minds when the two couples met in France. For Italian-born Max, food and drink had always been a huge part of his life, especially as his parents owned a vineyard, and, raised on the Isle of Wight, Kate says her love of food stemmed from the farm-fresh produce and home-cooked meals that her mother had made for her as a child. But it was only after meeting Max and Emma that Kate began to appreciate wine. “I only know what I know about wine because of Max. Before I met him, I just used to like drinking it; I didn’t think much about where it was from. But suddenly when you learn about it, it’s really interesting,” she says.

Their working partnership is quite a contrast to other offices where colleagues often have to tolerate different personalities for the sake of the working relationship. In this work set-up, they all knew what to expect from each other.

“Emma and I are quite driven,” Kate explains. “I think our partners would probably call us high maintenance, but that’s not the word that I would use,” she laughs. It would seem that the similarities between Kate and Emma are matched by the likeness shared between the men of the group. “Max and Simon are very similar in that they’re horizontal. They’ve got passion and they love doing what they do but they’re definitely the calmer side – they keep us on track a little bit. I think the four of us have a really good balance. Because we get on so well, we’re not afraid to say things and that’s really important.”

Thankfully, the group are still indulging in what led them to set up Duck & Truffle in the first place and always find the time to discover new places to eat and drink. But, unlike their get-togethers before, their culinary outings now have a greater purpose. “When we’re not working we go out socialising together, visiting vineyards and restaurants to try out different things so we can then promote those to the people we want to bring into Dordogne,” Kate says.

___________________________________________________________________________

Related articles

How has Brexit affected this expat family in France?

Meet the stars of the TV show Escape to the Château

___________________________________________________________________________

How do the tours work?

Taylor family on a gourmet weekend with Duck & TruffleTaylor family on a gourmet weekend with Duck & Truffle

Largely led by Max, guests can avail of guided walks through some of Dordogne’s most beautiful vineyards or have Max visit them at their own accommodation for a personal wine-tasting session. It is a very accommodating concept that reflects the group’s unfussy approach to food and drink.

“It’s not always about the most expensive wine and the most expensive food,” says Kate. “It’s just about showing them the really good parts of Dordogne. For example, our truffles in the winter are just amazing and we take people to the same market where we go to buy them,” she explains. “It’s not about saying we’re going to take people here or there. This is what we actually do. It’s more about us saying ‘we love this and this is why we love where we live’.”

“We get all sorts of people coming on the weekends, from professional workers to young people who want a little taster, and retired people who love food and wine who don’t want to do something on their own,” Kate says. “It’s about getting like-minded people together and having a social event as well as learning about the area.”

In addition to the gourmet weekends, the group also run wine tours in the summer months, an added extra that only came about from customer inquiries. Kate says these were an afterthought to the weekend tours but that they are fully booked and they help promote the main winter activities well. “The people we’re meeting are saying they’d love to come back in the winter and do the gastro tours, so they’re a great bit of

Do any of you have any regrets about undertaking such a venture?

“I should have moved here 25 years ago,” sighs Kate before adding, “But I didn’t have the gumption. There’s such a different lifestyle here in that people really appreciate food and wine. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in the UK, but…” she trails off, silently considering the difference the simple move across the Channel has made.

“Here in Dordogne, you could be sitting in your back garden and then 20 minutes later you’re at a château wine tasting.”

www.duckandtruffle.com

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Living in France

Yesterday, 14:54

Life in France has turned out to be very different to how she thought it might be, but for mum-of-five, Gillian Harvey, living in this rural heartland couldn’t be better

Read more
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Stars of the Channel 4 series, A New Life in the Sun, Lyndsay and Richard Watterson, took a break from their filming schedule to reveal how setting up a gîte business in France made them stars of the screen...

Read more
Expats in France
Thursday, March 2, 2017

Make a note of these French emergency numbers and what to say when you ring them in case you need help while in France

Read more
Friday, January 13, 2017

A step-by-step guide to setting up broadband in your new French property so you can stay connected with friends and family

Read more
Monday, February 27, 2017

Thinking about starting a business in France but also feeling daunted by the challenge? Here’s why buying a franchise could be the right option for you

Read more
Running a business
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A buy-to-let property can be a good way to supplement your income for your new life in France but make sure you understand these 8 considerations first

Read more
Running a business
Mon, 12:46

Retirement in France can be idyllic but make sure you plan ahead and take the necessary legal steps to ensure you can relax and enjoy your golden years in France

Read more
Friday, March 10, 2017

Retiring to France requires careful consideration, here are 5 key areas to focus on to help make settling in as easy as possible

Read more
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Finding the right mutuelle (top-up health insurance) in France can be enough to make you feel ill. But considering these points will help you make the right choice

Read more
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The French healthcare system is considered one of the best examples of universal care at affordable rates – but how does the mutuelle work?

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now