Spice up your meals with the OCNI-Factory – Meanderings through France n° 158
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
What on earth went through Benoit Le Guein’s head when he created his unheard of seasoning sticks? Who would think of using a sharpener to cut food? Well, Benoit not only got that brilliant idea but he also had the means to turn this simple idea into a successful business. He called his seasoning sticks o-c-n-i (objets comestibles non indentifiés) that you can translate into u-f-o (unidentified food objects)! It’ easy to get used to cut these fine tasty chips out of the colourful sticks and turn a simple bowl of pasta, a plain omelette or a cheese salad into a real treat.
How are u-f-o made?
Benoit is only 29, but he already holds degrees in cuisine, design, plastic and graphic arts. Mixing all these assets he achieved materializing his seasoning sticks. Five years ago he joined forces with two other young entrepreneurs, Nadia Lahrichi and Tristan Cano, and they created the OCNI-Factory in Alès, in southern France. All their products are crafted in Alès using raw products such as pepper pulp or ginger juice, herbal teas and essential oils. Texture is given with agar-agar and locust bean gum. There are absolutely no additive such as colouring or preservative, only vinegar and salt are used to preserve the seasoning paste. They all are vegan and gluten-free.
How to use the OCNI-Factory seasoning sticks?
You may find them in delicatessen but the easiest way to get them is to buy them on-line on the OCNI-Factory website. They do ship everywhere in the world (they are going big in Japan), from France and shipping is free for orders over 40 € (36 £). There are presently 13 different flavours available but Benoit’s imagination is endless and new ones never stop coming. Basil, porcini mushroom, lime, ginger, saffron, Espelette pepper, black garlic, tomato and thyme… each stick comes with a sharpener. There are also box sets of three seasoning sticks as well as “refill” sticks sold without sharpeners. Each sticks weighs 18 grams and will deliver 120 chips, but only 5 to 10 chips is enough to spice up a plate.
On the web site you will also get plenty information on how to mix and match the seasoning sticks with your favourite food. Thus you can mix the ginger stick with Asian food, fish or vanilla desserts. The pepper and garlic stick will do wonders with Italian food, BBQ or seafood. The lime sticks will be perfect wit salmon, oriental cuisine or even a Mojito.
You will also find over 80 different recipes on the website, but once you’ll get used to this new way to enhance your cuisine you will just have to follow your own tastes. Believe me, if you just put several sticks on your table and have friends for dinner they won’t stop shaving them on their plate and try new blends of flavours.
Here is one of the recipes available for free on the website:
Scrambled eggs with soy sauce, porcini mushrooms and basil seasoning stick
For this very simple yet delicious recipe you’ll need:
4 eggs, a little butter, a drop of milk, as many white mushrooms as you like, a little chives, one OCNI-Factory seasoning stick soy sauce and porcini mushroom
1- Whisk the eggs in a bowl with milk, salt and pepper
2- Cut the white mushrooms in thin slices and blow them up in a pan with oil or butter
3- Cook your eggs in a pan, put them on a plate with the fried white mushrooms and mince chives
4- Last but not least shave some soy sauce and porcini mushroom OCNI-Factory stick on top.
More at: www.ocni-factory.com
Text ©Annick Dournes