Israel, the cradle of spices
Of Israeli origin, Roï Hendel has evolved in a cosmopolitan culture. From his country, he keeps the culinary richness and the meals between friends from different origins. These are moments that allow us to discover each other’s culinary universe and to keep the best of all worlds.
Spices are very present in Israel and the spice market is its popular symbol. This place of exchanges and meetings allows everyone to present the spices of their country, thus giving access to a great variety of products.
Roï knows this world well. He was inspired by this richness and these scents, and then began to imagine what could be done with them.
In 2008, Roï moved to France and obtained a CAP in cooking at the Ecole Ferrandi. In this training, he was surprised not to see any work on spices, and he regretted not being able to find good spices at affordable prices.
He therefore decided, on a personal basis, to buy spices in Israel and bring them back to France.
The idea of creating his company came to him during a trip to India in 2014. There, the work on spices in organic farming is extraordinary. What he likes most of all is the transparency of the producers and the quality of their work.
From word of mouth to circumstance, Roï finally created his project in 2016 and officially launched his brand Épices Shira in 2017. He travelled to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka for a month to source spices. He visited more than one hundred and fifty spice farms and chose only fifteen to work with.
By creating Épices Shira, Roï Hendel has given spices a real place in French gastronomy.
A rigorous selection process
Roï privileges working directly with small producers whom he visits regularly. The selection of spices is done in a rigorous way to respect the best quality.
His selections come mainly from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Iran. But also from France, with a farm in Brittany that produces aromatic plants in permaculture, and a picker in Languedoc-Roussillon who produces aromatic plants and varieties of thyme with different scents.
At Épices Shira, the choice is wide and of high quality, with single spices, spice blends, peppers, herbs, but also condiments (harissa with Isfahan rose, pomegranate molasses or Iranian vinette thorn, sesame paste from Palestine) and dried fruits (almonds and wild pistachios).
For Roï, good spices are those that taste good, that are well processed, but that are also organic and ethical. This is why it is important to know the product and the people who work with it.
In line with this approach, Roï also plans to improve the packaging of its spices to offer a top-of-the-range and eco-responsible product.
A culinary tool for plant-based cuisine
With recipes rich in ingredients, plant-based cuisine sometimes requires more work than traditional cuisine.
Traditional Chefs usually work on their dishes with ingredients that we are used to eat unseasoned, but spiced up with condiments or sauces that are well targeted on the plate.
Vegan Chefs, on the other hand, work on the whole dish by enhancing the flavour of each ingredient with different seasonings. They often use spices to create consistency and give an intensity of flavour that is close to what everyone knows.
In pastry making, the use of spices is more limited (mainly the classic vanilla and cinnamon) but can include specific mixtures such as chai.
Spices are therefore a real culinary tool in plant-based cuisine. Moreover, some of the clients of Shira Spices are vegan or vegetarian restaurateurs (Vegan Gorilla, Le Potager de Charlotte, So Nat, Totum, VG Patisserie…)
Poetry in the kitchen
Today, Roï works with around a hundred restaurants, including several Michelin-starred ones such as L’Astrance, Table, Le Clarance, Ze Kitchen Galerie, Comice, Quinsou and L’Assiette Champenoise (illustration below: raw pea tartlet, wild almonds, pea pod cream and yellow cardamom served with sumac sauce).
The Chefs are surprised by the taste. They realise that they know very little about spices and that these, when they are of good quality, can create a real emotion.
They are seduced by Roï’s approach and commitment, in addition to the quality of the products and their traceability. Chefs are also looking for novelty and the notion of terroir that goes beyond France.
When asked “how to use spices”, Roï gives advice on how they are used in their countries of origin. He can also create customised blends for Chefs who have specific ideas for dishes or flavoured teas.
With Shira Spices, Roï Hendel wants to bring poetry into the kitchen. On the bottles of spices that Roï will present to you, you will read that “The most floral of thymes, linalool thyme, is happy to be surrounded by fruit”, that “Smoky, mentholated and cocoa-like, black cardamom loves chocolate”, and that “Dazzling grapefruit scent, timur brings freshness to cooking”.
Pieces of poetry, for a beautiful journey of the senses.