Boule D’Or – BRAZILIAN CHEESE BALLS CONQUER SWISS MARKET
by Chené Koscielny
PHOTOGRAPHS: Caroline Blackwell from Taste of Savoie
A humble little bread and cheese ball from Brazil has made its way onto the plates and into the hearts of ‘les vraies Suisses’ to become a symbol of cultural integration and entrepreneurship.
Called Pão de Queijo in Portuguese – which means cheesy bread – the balls have been a staple food among Brazilians for centuries. They are eaten “at all times” – for breakfast, lunch and dinner or as a snack with coffee.
REINVENTED FOR SWISS MARKET
Thanks to innovative expat couple Alex and Jussara Gusmão, who live in Nyon, this savoury treat has been reinvented for the Swiss market by replacing the Brazilian cheese with Gruyère, thereby integrating different tastes and cultures under the brand: Boule D’Or. (golden ball)
The Swiss LOVE it!
SERVED IN SWISS FONDUE POTS
Only 2 years after the business started in 2016, you can now order Boule d’Or golden balls in some of Switzerland and Geneva’s Swiss-est restaurants.
You’ll even find them in the cheese heartland of Gruyère, proudly served in Swiss fondue pots at the Restaurant le Chalet de Gruyères !
WHAT IS PAO DE QUEIJO?
A small bread ball prepared from cassava flour and cheese, and therefore naturally gluten-free.
Jussara added Swiss ingredients to her grandmother’s recipe, including Gruyère cheese, potatoes, sunflower oil, milk and Swiss eggs.
A BIT LIKE A MALAKOFF, BUT LESS FATTY
They look a little bit like the traditional Swiss delicacy Malakoff – but the taste is very different, because Malakoff is fried in oil and the Boule d’Or balls are baked from frozen in the centre of the oven for 16-20 minutes, so much less fatty, but super delicious! They are frozen directly after production, so the end product has no preservatives or additives. You can eat them plain – or they can be dressed up such as the ones on the plate we snacked on during our meeting with the couple – with interesting fillings such as rôti du porc with mayo and parsley or cream cheese, salmon and dill.
HOW DID IT START?
Jussara loves entertaining and has been making the balls for friends and family in her kitchen since they moved to Geneva in 2003 for Alex’s job. After a while, she started selling the product to friends on demand. At the end of Alex’s contract, the couple tested the viability of turning this into a sustainable business. Their market research showed that 8 out of every 10 Swiss people who tried the cheese balls, loved them! The couple decided to take the plunge and set up their own factory in Nyon, which has the capacity to create 300,000 balls per month.
The game changer for them was when Migros agreed to stock their product – which is now available in over 90 stores in West-Switzerland. Further cantons are added monthly. Boule d’Or has also more recently become available throughout Switzerland on LeShop – the online arm of Migros.
The couple’s business success is one thing, but arguably even more impressive is the strength of their relationship, which started as a summer romance when they were both 14.
Jussara is the arty, creative side, while Alex is the business brain and the two sides definitely clash.
“We disagree on everything,” says Alex and for once, Jussara, seems to agree.
So, what is the recipe for their success in marriage and working together?
“We just keep arguing, but at the end of the day we go home and relax with a glass of wine.” Sounds like an easy recipe to follow!
ALEX’S TIPS FOR EXPAT ENTREPRENEURS
- A true passion for your product.
- Do your market research. Test the pilot product and then fine-tune it according to the feedback you get.
- Ensure the business keeps changing and evolving as needs and markets change.
- Be sure to have enough funds for unforeseen expenses.
I think it’s safe to add that a good dose of grit and determination had to be thrown into the mix to make the Swiss fall in love with a cheese ball from Brazil!
WHERE TO TRY Boule D’Or CHEESE BALLS IN GENEVA
Le bistro – Le Lion d’or – Dupont et Byrne – Place Pierre-Gautier 5, 1223 Cologny
BonGénie Grieder Genève – Café – 6ème étage – 34 rue du marché , 1204 Geneva
Boulangerie Eric Emery – 2 Ch. Dr. Adolphe-Pasteur , 1209 Geneva
La Cocina Argentina – 58 Rue de Saint-Jean 58, 1203 Geneva
MORE INFO AND WHERE TO BUY THE Boule D’Or CHEESE BALLS
To find out more about the business and where you can buy the Boule d’Or cheese balls, as well as, a great selection of recipes and serving suggestions, visit: https://www.bouledor.ch
This article was written by Things to do in Geneva in collaboration with Boule d’Or. We feature only products we have tested and liked. To find out more about opportunities to be featured on our site, contact us.