TUESDAY: Several kilometers out at sea near Brittany, France, captain Donnart makes his way back to port after a freezing day out searching for monkfish, an ugly-looking creature, highly valued for its delicious firm flesh, made famous by French monks. The fish is notoriously difficult to catch, but captain Donnart has plenty of skill and experience on his side – he and the other men in his family come from a long line of fishermen who over the generations have all spent cold days at sea in the search for this deep sea bounty.
The boat arrives at port and the atmosphere is electric. Buyers peer into crates loaded with all kinds of fish and bargain with fishermen for the best price. Captain Donnart and his crew join the din, unloading their day’s catch to buyers from all around the world.
Thailand’s buyers add captain’s Donnart’s monkfish to their list of purchases and immediately put everything on ice. Their goods are then taken to a refrigerated holding in Paris by Wednesday morning, and then put on a flight bound for Suvarnabhumi airport.
THURSDAY: Upon arrival the premium seafood is then transported in a refrigerated truck from the airport to Theodoré – The seafood specialist by around noon for inspection.
This process is quite the spectacle; an organized mayhem of fast-paced movements from people wearing gloves and aprons, while CEO Andreas Kirn gives orders.
He scrutinizes everything that’s brought in, picking fish up and testing its quality. In his hands now is one of captain Donnart’s line caught sea bass. “Clear eyes, bright red gills, firm flesh and no fishy smell,” Andreas says, “another good one! Give this fresh ice and put it into the truck!”
Once inspection is complete, the seafood is sent out in several refrigerated trucks. The staff of Theodoré takes a rest, but only a quick one because next week’s order is waiting to be processed and the work never ends for the energetic and happy staff here.
Quality and Service first
Quali ty first, then service, and then pricing is the Theodoré company motto, and inherently, the secret to its success. A large selection of quality seafood and an impeccable level of service towards clients is what keeps the talented chefs of Bangkok and upcountry coming back for more.
The company provides 24-hour telephone service, so if a chef has an epiphany for a dish at 2am in the morning and wants fresh turbot in his kitchen by Thursday afternoon, Theodoré will get it done.
Dover sole, John Dory, redfish, caviar, Atlantic codfish, fresh sardines (none of that canned stuff), rock octopus from Brittany, live European lobster, live brown spider crab, wild caught turbot of up to 9kg, an extensive selection of oysters from brands such as Cadoret and Les Tarbouriech (aka Pink Oysters) and a huge selection of mussels are just a small selection of the vast array of fresh seafood goodies that Theodoré has introduced this year to the Thai market.
Theodoré’s oysters arrive in beautiful boxes packed with seaweed to keep the tasty mollusks alive throughout their long journey. They are expedited from their farms on Tuesday and are shucked open and on your ice platter at your high-end hotel or restaurant by Thursday.
It is also worth noting that Theodoré is the only supplier in Thailand to carry Royal Oysters and wild oysters, which have been meticulously boxed by hand with the name and signature of the packer written on the side of every box.
It started with caviar
THEODORÉ may have been in the food importation game for eight years now, but it’s not some big corporate firm in a tall office of glass and steel in Sathorn, but rather a humble yet super efficient family-run operation in a narrow multi-storied office near Sukhumvit.
“It started with caviar,” said Andreas when asked about how his luxury seafood business came to be.
Eight years ago his wife, Petra, was asked by a friend to help sell some imported caviar in Bangkok. Throughout her mission she was frequently asked the same question by her clients: “do you sell only caviar? What about other types of fresh premium seafood?” and at this point she was left at a crossroad in her life: “do I move on to another venture or do I keep selling caviar, take it further and transform it into a fresh premium seafood importation business?”
Taking the bolder option, she persevered. She picked up the phone and looked for suppliers. After countless phone calls to France, she slowly built up her list of contacts. Seafood brokers, independent oyster farmers and small fishing boatswere added to her phonebook and over the next eight years she built a strong relationship with the ones that worked well with the company.
In 2009, five years after getting into seafood, Petra’s husband, Andreas, joined his wife to push the brand even further. Earlier this year, in 2012, their two daughters, Kathrin and Eva, left their respective jobs to be part of the budding family business. It has been eight years of hard work for the Kirns and to this day they continue to push even harder.
To put into perspective: when they started, their first shipment was just a few foam boxes filled with a small selection of seafood. Today, they are one of the leading brands in the fresh seafood importation service selling a vast selection of delicacies from around the world. All of this because of some caviar.
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