2023 Lifetime Achievement award winner

Alain Sinturel

3 Little Pigs/Les Trois Petits Cochons
Lifetime Achievement

France’s loss was the U.S.’ gain, in the persona of Alain Sinturel and his partner Jean Pierre Pradie, creators of Les Trois Petits Cochons and arguably the two most responsible for bringing pate to America.

“We were young and ambitious, without enough money to open a proper restaurant,” recalls Sinturel, 75. “And we wanted to bring French charcuterie to New York City. So we opened a takeout shop.”

An Overnight Sensation

Sinturel had classic French training, at the Lausanne School in Switzerland and restaurants in Paris. Pradie’s family owned a charcuterie business in Bordeaux. The two met in Paris and dabbled in a venture in London. New York was calling and the business partners came.

The 300-square-foot shop opened on 13th Street in Greenwich Village in 1975, selling pate and quiche. Within months, culinary luminaries such as Mimi Sheraton, James Beard, and Craig Claiborne praised the products. In an August 1975 issue of New York Magazine, Sheraton described the “fragrantly tantalizing diversities" of charcuterie, which for her was "the earthiest and most irresistible category of the French cuisine.”

Soon thereafter, a wholesale business was born. “We sold to some New York restaurants and began to get inquiries from retailers and distributors across the U.S.,” Sinturel says. “We sold the shop and decided to concentrate on wholesale.” Their first distributor was Peacock Cheese in Los Angeles.

Les Trois joined the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (now Specialty Food Association) and did its first Fancy Food Show in 1979. It was a prosperous time for the specialty food industry and the pate was picked up by specialty food stores, upscale supermarkets, and distributors.

While the business was building, production was struggling. In 1988 the company moved from a small co-packer in New Jersey to a 20,000-square-foot plant in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Known as a stickler for quality, Sinturel prides himself and the company on its quality ingredients, including fresh pork, special spice mixes, and local produce, plus the pride and skill of the people who make the product.

There have been countless innovations over the years. Mouse Truffee was introduced in 1990, Jambon de Paris in 1995, pate slices in 2005, sausage in 2006, and an organic line in 2016. And the types and flavoring of the original pate continued to expand.

All was going well. But Sinturel was ready for the next phase of life. “I was approaching 70. I still had the passion but it was time to move on,” he says. It took a while but he finally found a new owner with the palate and passion to move Les Trois Petits Cochons forward. In 2017 he sold the company to David Kemp, who has continued to grow it with the addition of egg bites, expansion of the organic line, and acquisitions of other meat companies.

Sinturel now spends six months a year at his home in Normandy, only 45 minutes from Paris which he visits weekly. His home for the other six months is the U.S.  He is enjoying life—and still eating pate.