The J.C. DAVID establishments base all of their production on the ancestral, entirely natural and craft process that combines fish, salt and smoke in the traditional wood ovens.


Methods to preserve food, inspired by the Greeks and the Egyptians have remained the same for centuries: the fish is salted, then dried with smoke and, this way, keeps for months.

Recognized for its health benefits, this traditional method is the only one that offers authentic products without any additive or chemical ingredient.

The “hommes du blanc” (men of white) named so after the colour of fresh fish flesh –different from that of smoked fish– are in charge of taking deliveries, salting and hooking the fish on bars for the smoking.

Vertical and slow

The “Maître Fumeur” (smoking master) prepares a skilful blend of logs and oak shavings. The smoke goes up to where the fish are hooked. This fire guardian must constantly check that the fish are at a temperature inferior to 28 degrees Celsius so they are semi-cured. He must pay attention to atmospheric conditions in order to maintain a constant temperature and humidity necessary to a slow and nice smoking.

The fish are hooked vertically so as for the smoke to circulate between each and every fillet. Stretched down so, the flesh can better let the exudate out (a superfluous organic liquid).

Depending on the product, sixteen to twenty-four hours are required to smoke without attacking the flesh, that is about six times longer than in modern ovens. Over the hours, the oak fragrance slowly and naturally impregnates the flesh to give the fish its unique taste.


All our products are prepared and wrapped by hand. The “fileteuses” (in charge of the fillets) skin the herrings, revealing a silvery colour, gage of a quality smoking. The hole at the top of each fillet certifies the smoking method used.

Then, the “ballotineuses” meticulously wrap the fillets into their traditional packaging: the “ballotin.” Our fish can also be vacuum-sealed or stored into wooden crates.



The man of white

They are named so after the colour of fresh fish flesh, different from that of smoked fish at the end of the process. These men take in charge the fish when received: they salt it and rinse it in large tanks. Then, it is prepared and hooked to stainless steel bars vertically aligned on trolleys to be put in the oven.


They are in charge of the delicate operation of “levée” of the fillets, which consists in skinning and boning them, once the smoking is done. It is a very meticulous work that consists in boning the fish while preserving the inshore herring’s flesh whole and intact. They master a unique know-how the J.C. DAVID establishments are amongst the last guardians of in Boulogne, or even in Europe.


As their name suggests, they manually roll herring fillets in wraps of similar weight – a “ballotin” being the traditional herring wrapping. Simultaneously and for other types of packaging such as sous-vide, the packagers weigh and wrap the mild fillets, the salmons and other haddocks.


The smoking master

His exclusive task is to maintain the ovens at a temperature inferior to 28 degrees Celsius during sixteen to twenty-four hours depending on the products. He is the “guardian of fire” whose knowledge is made of well-kept secrets, passed down from generation to generation, through a long training of the successor to this key role.


The salmon sliced by hand is part of the traditional know-how of J.C. DAVID. This cut gives long and generous slices of salmon. J.C. DAVID can take pride in a perfect process: from choosing the salmon, to salting it by hand, traditionally smoking it with oak wood and other fragrances, and finally manually slicing it.