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Carrément Tarte: Blending artistry with industry

Entrepreneur’s corner | May 27, 2021

The story of Carrément Tarte is the story of two entrepreneurs from Brittany who changed their lives, their careers and their country. Although it seems like they have been around for many years, their unique and uncompromising culinary delicacies deserve a special place on our tables today.

In 2005, Katell Burot was an Accountant working for a large firm in France when, thanks to a transfer, she was given an opportunity to practice her profession in Québec.

Her husband, Philippe D’Haucourt, who was a Trainer at a call center at the time, took advantage of the family’s move to focus on a new direction. He got a job working at a crêperie in Montréal.

The original plan was to remain in Québec for three years, but the couple decided to stay here for good. A few years later, in 2013, they had both arrived at a crossroads in their respective careers. Philippe was not feeling challenged in his role as Chef de Cuisine, while Katell, although still motivated by her auditing and business consultation activities, heard a little voice in her head whispering that anything was possible in life.

I felt like a free electron bouncing around the corporate world.

Seizing the spirit of adventure, the two decided to combine the experience that Philippe had acquired in the restaurant and food business with Katell’s business and management skills: “Philippe was able to take advantage of his precious family heritage of always serving tarts and quiches created with a hand-made pastry crust.”

Selling – with no point of sale

This resulted in the birth of Carrément Tarte in 2014. This “tart factory” in the Rosemont district specializes in making gourmet square pies. Strategically established with no sales location, Carrément Tarte products are distributed to delicatessens, cheese shops, gourmet boutiques and cafés in Québec and Ontario.

With no store front from the start, they needed something unusual and memorable, like the idea of square pies.

Katell Burot recalls: “When we decided to go into the pie business, we didn’t want to be just another pie maker offering the same products as everyone else. Also, because we had decided not to have a store front at the beginning, we needed something unusual and memorable. That’s how we came up with the idea of square pies.”

The business offers sweet pies, quiches and mini tarts. In addition to being sold at speciality boutiques, Carrément Tarte products are available online, primarily through the Maturin, Marché des Fermes Lufa, FoodRelay and Créalunch websites. Their pies are also sold in a number of grocery stores and through food services, namely hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) markets. In the latter case, Carrément Tarte offers a variety of basic formats for ready-to-garnish sweet and savory pies made with pure butter or vegetarian crust.

It’s not impossible to offer superior-quality products in large volume without compromise.

Toward this end, the two entrepreneurs adopted the principle of refusing to compromise with respect to the composition of their products right from the start. “There was never any thought of using chemical additives to prolong the shelf life. This caused some problems in dealing with large supermarket chains, who determined that a three-month shelf life was not sufficient.”

Growing pains

Thanks to their strategy of diversified distribution, Carrément Tarte was able to double its income every year, beginning with the third year. “We had no choice but to increase our production volume, because our overhead costs were rising. In light of this, in 2017, we decided to act like a major player and obtain certification, both in terms of our quality and our processes.” This type of certification would add credibility to the brand among its existing partners, and more importantly, among the larger players they planned to approach in the future.

Of course, increased production volume also meant increasing needs in other areas, including equipment and space requirements. Therefore, in order to obtain the certification they were seeking and demonstrate proper hygiene management, Carrément Tarte had to reconsider its business location. For example, it would have to build walls in order to separate raw ingredients from cooked products, and each space had to be dedicated to certain very specific functions.

It was during this growth phase that Carrément Tarte changed locations at the end of the spring, in order to minimize the effect on production. The new facilities, located in the Borough of Montréal-Nord, would be four times the size of those on Fullum. This would allow Katell Burot and Philippe D’Haucourt to devote even more energy to exporting to English Canada, primarily through the HRI market, “where the future of Carrément Tarte lies”, Katell believes.

On the other hand, the business has already started to attract partners from outside of Québec, as evidenced by recent agreements signed with major players like Longo’s and the massive Whole Foods grocery chain. 

We have successfully blended artistry with industry.

How PME MTL has made a difference for Carrément Tarte

“PME MTL was one of our first partners. In fact, the help they gave us created a domino effect among other funding organizations, who were reassured by the faith that the PME MTL team showed in us. In addition, from a financial perspective, PME MTL supported us from our opening in 2014 until 2016, when we acquired equipment and developed a marketing plan. More recently, their team came through with significant financing in the form of $2 million to facilitate our transition to our new facilities. We even took advantage of an industrial and sustainable development subsidy within the context of an existing project involving eco-friendly packaging. Finally, PME MTL put us in contact with a bio-food expert, who provided support in connection with a number of files, including our commercial strategy, 2021 commercial and sales plans and recruiting of a sales resource to accelerate our growth.”

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Carrément Tarte is supported by PME MTL Centre-Est.

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