by Rebecca Taras | Feb 28, 2019 | Candles, History, Home, Paris
If you’ve ever visited the Palace of Versailles, then you’re well aware of its magnitude in both size and stature. Even if you haven’t, the numbers speak for themselves: Imagine 700 rooms, more than 2,000 windows, 1,250 chimneys, 67 staircases, and a capacity for 20,000 people. As long as we’re talking stats, equally astonishing is the 3,000-plus candles that illuminated the palace—out of necessity, not a craving for ambiance.
But indispensability is what ultimately laid the groundwork for the Trudon family legacy. In 1643, Claude Trudon opened a boutique on rue Saint-Honoré that specialized in candles, among other provisions. It wasn’t long before the court of Louis XV and the kingdom’s most commanding parishes were demanding the pristine white beeswax candles. In 1737, Claude Trudon’s descendant, Jérôme Trudon, purchased the Manufacture Royale des Cires (a.k.a. Royal Wax Manufacturer) in Antony, France from Péan Seigneur Saint-Gilles, expanding the firm’s capabilities.
To learn more about the rich history of this fascinating luxury candle company, I strolled over to the Cire Trudon offices at Place des Victoires to meet with Julien Pruvost, executive director for the brand. Among other things, we discussed how the Trudon family formula wound up in the French encyclopedia (encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers), his favorite Trudon company legend and how the brand survived into the modern-day world.
With a view of the Basilica of Notre-Dame des Victoires from the office window and the intoxicating aroma of Trudon candles in the air, it wasn’t hard to imagine a time when all the world was bathed in the incandescent glow of candle light.
Photo courtesy of Cire Trudon.
In your own words, describe the history of Cire Trudon. “The history of Cire Trudon is short. The brand [as you know it now] was born in 2005. We cannot speak of a notion of brand survival, nor of survival here. The point is about transmitting, protecting and developing know-how. Cire Trudon condenses all of this into one entity. Cire Trudon tells the true story of over 350 years of candle and wax knowledge. Through its art, Cire Trudon tells the story of a people, a country, while speaking to the modern world.”
“I think that the main focal point is that we’re speaking to the former Royal Wax Manufacturer. When the Trudon family purchased the company from the former manufacturer, it had only recently become a thriving business that catered to the royals. They also improved the quality of the product to the point that a whole section of the French encyclopedia on arts, sciences and crafts is based on Trudon know-how. The engineer who was in charge of that section went to the Royal Wax Manufacturer and wrote down everything you would ever need to know about candle manufacturing—you could literally relaunch a candle produced in the way that it was done in the 18th century.”
What has enabled the brand to survive—and thrive—for so many years? “We don’t really consider ourselves ‘survivors;’ rather, we consider ourselves carriers of the heritage. We were able to reinvent ourselves. In a way, the Trudon family reinvented themselves when they improved the manufacturing from the previous [Royal Wax Manufacturer] owner. They were able to adapt the business to a time when gas and electricity were making their appearance. As for today, we’re not here to light a home—but we are in the decorative realm still producing candles, so that’s the important point.”
Photo courtesy of Cire Trudon.
Since the candles were originally a home necessity versus a decorative item, when was the fragrance introduced? “I found a late record of a lavender and citronella candle produced by the Trudon company—but later, in the early 19th century. We know for a fact that Paris was not the cleanest place on earth back then, and malaria was around, so you needed all sorts of propellants. Citronella candles—which we still use today—were used to keep the inside air purified. The homes were not that clean, so we assume that lavender candles were mainly around to purify—not scent—the room. It was a modern invention.”
Photo courtesy of Cire Trudon.
When a company has been around for so long, there are generally a few great stories from its past—what is one of your favorite Cire Trudon legends? “My favorite legend is about the tunnel that might have existed between the Louvre and the Trudon store that used to be right behind the Louvre castle on Rue de l’Arbre Sec. Since Paris had an amazing tunnel grid beneath its surface that was exploited all through the Second World War, essentially for commercial purposes, it was very plausible that a tunnel existed between the Louvre and the Trudon store. The tunnel grid goes back to the Roman period when rocks were carved out of the Paris rock-bed. The grid served many purposes over the centuries, from simple rock source to catacombs to bomb shelters, etc. So legend has it that there was a horse carriage that brought the goods back and forth.”
What makes a Cire Trudon candle so special? “A candle is meant to melt. If the surface of your candle isn’t completely molten, then the scent won’t be released. It’s also important for the candle to overburn. You need to adapt the wick to the the fragrance. Some will encourage the burn, while others with larger fragrance molecules inhibit it. Each of our 100% cotton wicks is specifically calibrated for each scent. Other features include: Non-drip, don’t omit smoke, complex and highly sophisticated fragrance compositions, and unique natural beeswax formula.”
Photo courtesy of Cire Trudon.
How do you go about creating the scents? “We have an in-house team that comes up with the types of notes we would like to associate with each theme. For example, from a historical theme like Josephine. We looked at a certain part of her life when she lived in the Château de Malmaison after divorcing Napoleon. She loved tending to her rose garden and was fascinated by birds and plants, so it was very easy to work with that in terms of developing notes. Next, we bring the idea/concept to one of our perfumers.”
How long does it take to develop a scent? “We were never able to develop anything in under six months. However, when a scent comes out of the lab, it will not smell the same weeks down the line. The more you let it settle, the closer it will be to what the end result is. You cannot rush this process. It needs to mature because we try to work with the maximum amount of natural ingredients. They’re rounder, deeper and more interesting—these types of raw materials need to mature.”
What are the essential oils/fragrances you use? “They come from around the world, including France, and are transformed in Grasse, France.”
Photo courtesy of Cire Trudon.
Tell me about a few of your favorite offerings, past and present. “I personally use these days Bartolomé, Madeleine and Positano. I also use a lot the Cire Trudon travel room sprays—especially in my car or when I am travelling extensively. Watching our wax busts being made is also fascinating. We have a partnership with the French National Museum Council to have the exclusive rights to reproduce in wax certain references in their catalogue.”
How did you get involved in this business and what do you love about it? “I joined the company as head of private label in 2009. I slowly got involved in the manufacturing part of the business, and that’s when I really fell in love with the company. For me, it’s very grounding to know that there’s a place where I can go and see the products that we’re offering while working on ways to constantly improve them. I also love the fact that we are selling an ancient product into our modern, high-speed world.”
Photo courtesy of Cire Trudon.
Why do you think France has had so much success in creating luxury products over the years? “During the mid-17th century under Louis XIV, France made the market luxurious. Everything came from France and everyone wanted things from France, whether it was perfume, furniture, clothing—even architects, gardeners and scientists. Everything had been promoted so intensively under Louis XIV that there were thriving companies in France making all sorts of things. In a way, France is still living up to that, though it obviously had to adapt.”
WTB Signature Questions:
What do you always have in your carry-on bag? “For the last year and a half I have been carrying around fragrance samples with me. I try to smell a single fragrance in a variety of environments and situations. The home and/or the office are not always the best places to evaluate a fragrance because you’re used to their scent/environment.”
What is one of your favorite travel destinations and what is a destination on your bucket list?
Favorite destination: Lanzarote Island “It’s part of the Canary Islands. One, there is fantastic surfing over there and two, it’s a very wild and untapped place. Even so, the mayor of the main town is a man called César Manrique; he is also an artist, so he built a variety of structures on the island that are simply amazing. They’re built in lava tunnels or fields, so there’s a combination of this really rough landscape and modernist architecture. It’s like nothing that I’ve seen elsewhere.”
Bucket list destination: The Roden Crater (Arizona) by James Turrell “James Turrell is an American land artist who bought a crater in Arizona and turned it into an experimental art piece that you can actually penetrate and walk around. It relates to the sky and the stars, and it’s a real experience, from what I heard.”
by Rebecca Taras | Feb 27, 2019 | Paris, Paris Life, Travel
How It All Began
The travel bug bit me at a very young age — not because I was a child jet-setter, rather, my dad would occasionally hang a large white sheet against the wall so he could project his slides (yes, slides) from his days living abroad in the sixties. But it wasn’t just his photographs that drew me in, it was his stories. I didn’t even fully understand what pâté was, yet I could taste it,thanks to his vivid description. From the the sound of the olive trees rustling in the wind to the road trips across Europe in his ‘62 Renault to the copious occasions where he was able to share a meal with a local-turned-friend, I officially had wanderlust. Forget Disney World. I want to see the Acropolis, dip bread into a pot of Swiss fondue, and gaze up at the Eiffel Tower like Madeline.
The Big Move
Flash forward several years later, a little over a year until my 40th birthday. A life change prompted me to offload unnecessary material possessions and spend some time in Paris. Why the City of Light? The answer is quite simple: I’m enamoured by it. The memories I’ve made over the past several years traveling there have become a part of my soul — and thanks to my career as a freelance journalist, this adventure was feasible.
In terms of living quarters, I settled into a small — actually tiny — studio in the Le Marais. For the cost, a larger pad could have been an option had I decided to venture out into other arrondissements, but being in an area that was comfortable to me was far more important than space. By making a life change, my priorities changed as well. As long as I could stroll around the corner to Place des Vosges to work, take a lunch break on the Seine with a three Euro baguette sandwich, and head to the open air market for my groceries, life was good.
As Good As It Gets
Even though I don’t speak the language (yet), I was surprised with how comfortable I felt. Actually, not just comfortable, downright giddy. It was the awakening that I was finally exactly where I should be after struggling to identify with that for many years. It wasn’t too long after being overseas that I met a fantastic French gentleman who is now my boyfriend. It’s been an exciting journey so far and our cultural differences have helped us form a strong bond — and make us laugh on occasion, too.
Forget About Those Stereotypes
What was supposed to be a brief hiatus in Paris turned into yet another complete lifestyle change. Of course, when I first told friends and family about this newfound relationship, I was plagued stereotypical questions like “Is he married?” “Is he a lot older than you?” Response: NO. I’m the only American in his social circle, but I’ve been welcomed with open arms. I want to touch more upon how we as Americans perceive the French and vice versa in future posts, but I can tell you that I’ve had several wine-infused conversations with them about this and not to worry — they don’t think we’re awful because of our president.
While this may sound like a perfect fairytale, there are also some harsh realities to living abroad. For example, being away from family, the visa process (a post in itself), identifying true friendships, and mastering the language so you convert from tourist to local. Not to mention, maintaining a US-based job from abroad if you aren’t on a work visa — though I CAN say being here finally gave me the clarity I needed to continue my business venture. Of course, there’s always the fact that you have to accept that you’ll likely always be the loudest person in the room. At a French fete or dinner party, I sometimes feel like a hybrid of Zelda Fitzgerald and the Unsinkable Molly Brown — but I’m okay with that.
Look for future posts about my life in France. Is there something particular you’d like to know? Email me at Rebecca@welltraveledbeauty.com.
by Rebecca Taras | Feb 10, 2019 | Food, Home, Paris, Profiles, Recipes
While you may have traveled to the same destination as your friends, family or social circle, it is our individual experiences that shape us, inspire us and leave an impression that cannot be replicated through someone else’s eyes. It’s an impact that lasts longer than any photograph or social media post every could.
For former actress Vikki Krinsky, who starred in shows such as Wild Card and Edgemont, travel meant change. Distraught with the pressures of staying thin in Hollywood, Krinksy booked a one-way ticket to Europe, where she ultimately shaped her newfound career as a successful private chef in Los Angeles for several well-known actors and Hollywood personalities. When you hear how she got her start (hint: a fated meeting on a train to Paris), you’re going to want to book your next vacation, stat.
Ahead, Krinsky shares her her career journey, go-to travel spots, and a recipe makeover (she’s a host on Recipe Rehab) for one of her favorite ethnic dishes from a previous vacation. How will your next trip inspire you?
Tell us a little bit about your time as an actress. How did the pressures to stay thin inspire you to make a career change?
“The truth is, I loved acting. I loved being a part of an ensemble and developing a character that wasn’t me. I loved expressing myself and creating something for girls around the world to relate to. The fan mail was like nothing I had ever experienced before. At a very young age I learned how people connect to actors, so I was grateful to have been given that powerful platform.”
“However, with my success came pressure. The pressure to look a certain way and maintain a certain weight started to affect the way I felt daily. It made me irritable and lowered my self-confidence. As a natural leader, I felt as though I was losing my footing and what mattered most.”
When did you decide to quit and make the decision to book a one-way ticket to Europe?
“I moved to Los Angeles when I was 19 while on hiatus from the second season of the Lifetime show Zoe Busiek’s Wild Card. I flew down to audition for a Disney gymnastics movie called Stick It. I tested for a couple of shows and didn’t land any roles. Basically, I was told to ‘lose five pounds and look into vaneers’ by several ‘important’ people such as agents, managers and producers. After hitting an all-time-low, I decided to take a break from acting. I was completely discouraged by my negative body image and the pressure to be thin. I thought it was a good time to explore, live the life of a backpacker and take off to Europe!”
“Alongside sweat pants and T-shirts, I brought my nutritional books, and off I went. Paris was first on my list. There I was on the train, second day in, coincidentally sitting next to a chef from a very upscale hotel restaurant. He noticed my book, and we started chatting. Next thing I know, I was in his kitchen learning how to make the famous Tarte Tatin. I loved every minute of that experience. He was kind enough to connect me to chefs all over Europe—Amsterdam, Milan, Switzerland and London. After a little over five months of backpacking and lightly ‘staging’ in a few kitchens, I came back to Los Angeles with a new zest for food, health and cooking!”
So, you never formally went to culinary school?
“I didn’t! Happily self-taught.”
What were some of the most valuable techniques/lessons you learned during this period in your life?
“Outside of basic knife skills and chopping techniques, I learned it was extremely important to maintain a clean and tidy work area. This has been a huge lesson as a private chef. Working in celebrity homes, it’s crucial to clean as I go. Keeping everything neat and organized has helped secure my place as a reputable private chef. I also learned that ‘scraps’ should be saved for stock, sauces and dressings. Nothing goes to waste.”
When did the health-kick passion come into the mix?
“Playing competitive sports my whole life has driven me to be as fit and healthy as possible. However, it became a slight obsession after being told, several times, to lose weight. I didn’t like how I started to view food. It was unhealthy and made me unhappy. I knew at a young age I needed to turn this mentality around, and that’s when I started studying and researching nutrition and sports medicine. I recognized people wanted delicious fine-dining meals, and my passion became creating those with a nutritional twist.”
What are a couple of your most memorable dining experiences?
Blue Hill in Tarrytown, New York: “From the moment you enter the farm to the moment you leave you feel as though you’ve entered a magical dream! All of your senses are stimulated, and the primary focus on ‘farm-to-table’ is expressed throughout the entire experience.”
Lapérouse in Paris, France: “Incredibly elegant and romantic. This was the first restaurant I witnessed a decadent soufflé finished off with a pour of hot chocolate ganache — by an ever-so-handsome and professional waiter. I recognized here that service was just as important as the meal itself.”
If someone wanted to go on an epicurean/foodie vacation of their dreams, what places would you steer them to and why?
“Aside from the obvious — Italy, France and Spain — my top three places to travel solely for their food would be:
Chicago: “The Windy City has an amazing array of terrific street food and fine dining, providing a great balance.”
New York: “I eat everything while I’m there! From street pupusas to dirty-water-dogs (hot dogs) on the bustling corners of Manhattan. I leave my evenings free for anything from Barbuto or ABC Kitchen to fine dining restaurants like Le Bernardin or Eleven Madison Park.”
Israel: “Spectacular ingredients and extremely talented chefs. Israeli cuisine continues to adapt elements of various styles of cuisine. Mediterranean ingredients, as well as Sephardic and Ashkenazi styles of Jewish cooking, influence it, so it’s very flavorful and healthy.”
What tips can you offer for staying in shape while traveling, without having to give up experiencing all the amazing local cuisine?
“Keeping hydrated is incredibly important while traveling. Time change and imbalanced blood sugar levels can make you feel hungry when you’re actually dehydrated. It’s important to be sure to nibble on small amounts of high-protein, low-sugar snacks, like unsalted nuts or 85% or higher dark chocolate, every two to three hours. Also, taking advantage of active means of transportation—like riding a bicycle or walking as much as possible—is a great way to explore while burning a few extra calories.”
Recipe makeover challenge: One of the best ethnic dishes that you had on your travels.
“I had an incredible traditional tamale while in Mexico, so I decided to create a healthy ‘Krinskified’ version! Remember, portion control is your friend.”
MUFFIN TIN TAMALES
“There’s nothing like the flavors of a traditional, warm gooey, tamale, made with fresh ingredients, bursting with flavor, and all-ready to eat in a healthy portion-size cup!
Cook time: 40-minutes
Prep time: 15-minutes
4 teaspoons coconut oil
1 1/2 cups masa (Note: Masa or masa harina (or corn flour) is a very finely ground cornmeal.)
2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken stock
½ teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
1 medium yellow onion, small dice (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, fine chop
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 15 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
½ cup low-sodium fat free chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
½ cup plain fat free Greek yogurt
¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle.
- Place coconut oil, masa, chicken stock, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well with a spatula until combined and soft. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, salt and pepper, and break the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Stir occasionally until browned and cooked through, about four minutes. Remove the turkey with a slotted spoon to a medium bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about four-minutes.
Add the vinegar and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle in the paprika, oregano, cumin, and cayenne, and stir until incorporated. Cook for about two-minutes.
- Add the turkey, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, and pepper to the pan—stir to combine. Cook for another three-minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about five-to-seven-minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste, and add a touch more salt, pepper, and cayenne if you see fit!
- Using the muffin tin base, spray four-inch foil cups really well with olive oil spray. Take about a teaspoon of masa and spread a thin layer evenly in the cups and up the sides, being careful it’s not too thick. Add two teaspoons of the turkey mixture to the middle of the muffin tin cup. Cover the entire pan with tinfoil and bake for 20-minutes.
- Carefully remove the tamales from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Place back in the oven uncovered for 10-minutes. Gently run a knife around the edges and carefully flip tin cups upside down. Top with a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro!
Nutritional information (per serving):
Fat calories: 100
Total fat grams: 11
Sat fat grams: 7
Cholesterol mg: 65
Sodium mg: 970
Total carbohydrates g: 39
Fiber g: 4
Sugars g: 4
Protein g: 35