Provender Brown Perth Deli
2 martine

Happy 50th Birthday Martine!

From Paris to Charolles, Denver to Perth, this is the tale of how a French-Canadian-Parisian woman ended up spending her life in a Scottish deli!

She is the gin to my tonic, the tomato to my basil and the bread to my butter! I’m talking, of course, about Martine who has been part of the Provender Brown story since just before we opened our doors in March 2005.

I’ve often said that if Provender Brown is my baby then it is Martine’s Godchild, and I know you all feel the same way about our very own, fabulous, French foodie.

On September 1st 2021 Martine turns 50 and to celebrate we asked Nicki to interview her all about her life stories in food. From Paris to Charolles, Denver to Perth, with a few Moroccan influences thrown in for good measure, this is the tale of how a French-Canadian-Parisian woman ended up spending 16 years of her life in a Scottish deli.

Please, join with me in wishing her a very Happy 50th Birthday. Our little corner of deli life has been made all the richer for having Martine here.


Meet Martine Jacquemin

Martine Jacquemin was born September 1st 1971, in Ottawa, Canada, where her French Mum and Dad had been living for 5 or 6 years thanks to her Dad's work.

10 months later, the family was back in France. The Paris suburbs to be precise, though her Dad’s roots were in a little triangle south of Burgundy called Le Brionnais.

At the centre of this triangle stands Charolles - birthplace of the famous Charollaise cattle – whose food influence comes largely from Lyon. Think sturdy, meaty and cheesy!

Did you grow up loving good food?

“Rosette saucisson, St Marcellin cheese, sourdough miche bread, small farms' fresh milk, cream, butter, cheeses, all poultry, rabbits, pigs' meat on tiny scale, and that famous Charollaise beef. So, yeah. Real food from the start!”

“I grew up between these Paris and Brionnais until I was 9 so a real split of city girl and country girl – and I loved both. We then moved to Denver, Colorado where I discovered skiing, static electricity, snickers bars, cheese on untoasted bread, microwaves, high school vending machines "burritos" and string cheese. Dad got pretty close to losing it as you can imagine!

"Fortunately for my tastebuds our 4-year stint there was cut short and we moved back to France.

What’s your earliest food story?

“I can’t really recall my first food memory but my Mum and Dad have told this story numerous times.

“It would be late 1972 so I was around 15 or 16 months old and my brothers were aged 3 and 4.5. My parents sat down to enjoy a rare treat of a dozen oysters each. The story goes that I was hugely vocal in my interest in the 'thing' they were eating, almost knocking my highchair down in a bid to be heard.

“Amused, they decided to feed me one. They were less amused however, when I chewed my way through the first dozen! It just goes to show that there is food you will really adore if you’re never given reasons to reject it. I think so much of what we won’t taste is down to psychology. It’s fascinating!

How did you end up in Scotland?

“How did I end up in Scotland? Well, that's a very chunky bit of my life story.

“I was nearly 20 when my birth mother got in touch with me and I found out about my Scottish blood heritage. So at Uni, when I was offered a chance to spend a year in the UK as teacher's assistant, I chose Scotland. I fell in love with this stunning country. The astounding beauty, the striking seasonal changes, the real human warmth. And all the rest!

“I did go back to France to finish my degree and then my Dad passed away, which put me on hold for a few years.

How did you end up in Perth – and Provender Brown?

“I've been in Perth since November 18th 2003. I was meant to come the year later but the scorching summer of 2003 in Paris and my brother killing my car trying to get up a tree on a roundabout just tipped me!

“I thought, ‘Come on girl! You've never been without a job. Grab your bag and you'll find something until you get a full-time job teaching at the college.’ And off I went!”

“At that time in France, I was teaching English as a second or foreign language and was convinced that would be what I’d do in Scotland. Little did I know there were never any full-time positions for that type of job here and so I worked in a pound shop for a few months, then Goodfellow & Stevens bakery between 8am and 2pm, and from 6pm to10pm I was in Indigo, which if you remember was the unusual combination of a tanning / video shop!”

“So, one night I got a phone call from Alastair, my then boyfriend’s Dad. He told me he'd seen a 'staff required' notice in a window that sounded like it was right up my foody alley. I lived east of South St at the time and in my pyjamas, unlaced shoes, wet hair and Matrix Neo's superpowers, I arrived at 23 George Street to read the ad.

“The next morning, I kicked my boyfriend out of bed and told him to phone and apply for me as I would be at work. He did. We're not together anymore but I got the job. Probably because I was French. You'll need to ask Diane. She once told me she didn't know why she'd hired me based on my CV but it has worked for 16 years!”

Where are your food influences from?

“People talk about nurture V nature, and for me, I’d say it is definitely nurture that runs through my veins.

“My mum's dad was born in Spain in 1910 and ended up in a refugee camp in Tunisia as the war in Europe was brewing. He ended up in Morocco as his father was a scuba diver and he was hired to build Casablanca Port. His wife, my Mum's mum was lower French nobility – but nobility nonetheless. She defied her family and spent the second world war in charge of pig farm in Morocco.

“Add to this my Dad's love of food and his world travels that constantly brought new ideas and flavours to the family home and I’d have to say my food influences are from everywhere.”

Quick Fire Martine

Favourite homecooked meal?

  • Risotto or pasta bake. You can put anything in there and get different flavours every time. And you have the Arancini to look forward to the next day.

What do you miss about home?

  • Maman.

Favourite cheese?

  • Seriously? You're asking me to choose one of my babies? Ok, unlike parents with more than one, I'll be honest. Emmental. Because in a risotto or pasta bake, you need that wonderful string.

Favourite wine?

  • Depends on the food, really.

Favourite Perthshire Producer?

  • Strathearn cheese.

Favourite Scottish Product?

  • Seasonal asparagus, strawberry and rasps.

Your last meal would be...

Gosh, that's ghastly. Give me 3 days till death row and plenty of comfort food. Here we go:

  • Creamy pancetta, moules marinieres and chips. Perfect ones, with crispy outer and a sweet, melting inside
  • Scallops galettes with my vinaigrette dressing... a few chips, crunchy lettuce.
  • Cheese, ham and gherkin toastie. Same dressing and same salad!