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The invention of the PERARD Fish Soup
Once upon a time... during World War II

      "At this time,
it was difficult everyday to find food because of the German occupation. It wasn't Alice in Wonderland, but more like Alice in the Land of Severe Rationing. Even fishing was restricted by the soldiers, but my friend Maurice and I went along to the Halle des Poissons in Boulogne-sur-Mer to see what we could scrounge. At the market, we saw that fish heads were being discarded, and I bought two nice fat ones for next to nothing.
We went home and sated our hunger with a few potatoes and the fish heads, simply boiled in water. I kept some of the boiling stock and, that evening, jollied it up with some onions and herbs. Once again, we were well entertained by this simple soup, with few croutons. 


    For nearly 20 years, I refined my recipe, waiting for the day I could introduce all of France to my invention. In the 1960s, eating fish was not fashionable, and despite its seaside location and proximity to Boulogne (the nation's busiest port), Le Touquet did not have a single seafood restaurant.
I opened my establishment in
July 1963, with little money but an indomitable liver. My customers discovered a new meal which pleased them so much that they wanted to enjoy this invention at home. Needless to say that I didn’t refuse to sell my products ! But, at this time, the soup wasn’t sterilised, so I went to Paris, where I learnt the conserver's art and, from then on, packaged my soup in a sterilised jar.


      By 1970, Perard's soups, by now including lobster and crab versions and bearing the legend Bouillabaisse of the North, were being bottled at the rate of 3,000 per day, with sales having been achieved only through word of mouth. "We didn't need salesmen," he says. "The soup sold itself."


       In 1991, manufacturing moved to a purpose-built factory on the outskirts of town. We had thought of moving the whole operation to Boulogne-sur-Mer to be nearer the port, but the mayor of Le Touquet insisted that I stay, and the municipality granted us land. I invested heavily in new machinery.

 
      Nowadays, my production is about 10,000 jars a day, with no discernible change in quality. I can boast about being the first fish soup to obtain the “Label Rouge” in France, sign of high quality."
Serge PERARD (in 2010)