Home > The Distributor > Step into the world of Le Fumoir and its smoked salmon with CEO Jason Bassili

Three decades ago, Joe Bassili had a visionary idea that laid the groundwork for what is now the esteemed Bassili. Co—a brand synonymous with quality and innovation in the culinary world

Starting with salmon production and a modest smokehouse in Lebanon, Bassili.Co has since flourished into a diverse collection of establishments, including the renowned Le Fumoir by Joe Bassili. Jason Bassili, the son of Chairman Joe Bassili, emerges as a luminary in his own right, with experience spanning 18 years.

“Le Fumoir was founded by my father Joe Bassili in 1992 after he saw an opportunity to make premium quality smoked salmon for the Lebanese market,” shared Jason. “He went and learned the craft in Scotland alongside people who were considered the best in the business. From there, he mastered the art of smoking salmon and now we are headquartered in Dubai and produce over 22 tons per week.”

His journey embodies the entrepreneurial spirit instilled by his family, particularly evident in his pivotal role in the success of Bassili.Co. As we explore the dynamic world of culinary innovation, we sit down with Jason Bassili to gain insight into his journey of shaping the renowned brand.

Could you walk us through the comprehensive process of sourcing salmon for Le Fumoir?

We work very hard every day on sourcing only the finest and freshest salmon possible, and that is done through a 30-year history with our suppliers and by taking care of the logistics in-house. We fly our salmon five times per week via air freight ensuring we get the freshest and best quality fish possible. I visit our suppliers every year in Scotland and Norway and attend the European seafood shows to ensure we are up to date with new technologies in traceability and production.

What steps does Le Fumoir take to establish and maintain relationships with suppliers or fisheries to secure a reliable and premium source of salmon?

It’s all about trust and relationships to maintain rapport but more importantly, we are BRC certified which requires our suppliers to have all the lab tests and global standards reported and audited by us all year round to ensure everything is in order.

Could you elaborate on the specific methods used in the manual curing, smoking, and hand-slicing processes of the salmon?

We stay true to the traditional techniques that my father mastered all those years ago but apply modern processing and technology such as SAP software to make sure we can produce the volumes we are at today. The secret sauce is not only using the best quality products on the market but also taking our time to make sure we get everything right every time. We also have an in-house quality control team that makes sure that our production team follows our SOPS and craftsmanship. Our team of filleters and slicers go through a six-month training program to join the production line. Slicing smoked salmon 1mm thin is a true art form and needs time and dedication to be able to achieve it.

How does Le Fumoir ensure the quality and freshness of the sourced salmon from the waters, and how crucial is this aspect to maintaining the excellence of the final product?

Salmon needs to grow in cold seawater, and that water needs to be protected. Our salmon is sustainably sourced from Norway and Scotland where extremely high precautions are taken to make sure they are clean and pristine. The steps taken such as boat-free areas, and sheltered bays have a huge impact on the final product, and that is why we make site visits every year to ensure that they are implemented.

Can you highlight some key aspects that make your Hand Sliced Premium Smoked Salmon stand out in the competitive culinary market?

Slicing by hand is extremely labour-intensive and a lot of companies need the will or know-how to do it! Forty years ago, everyone was slicing by hand as it was the only option. Advancements in technology allow machines to slice salmon these days but it changes the texture and the taste profile. We only source fresh salmon, as opposed to the frozen industry stand that many competitors choose to use, this really sets us apart.

Can you provide insights into the current collaborations and partnerships established within the culinary industry?

We currently make the private label of Spinneys and Waitrose, this partnership is something we are really proud of, as it shows the trust that they have in us for them to put their name on the products that they sell to their customers. Providing consistently high-quality smoked salmon for over 30 years is the reason why so many hotels, airlines, restaurants, supermarkets and chefs around the region act as our brand ambassadors. Clients such as Emirates Airlines, One & Only, Paul, Bateel, Atlantis, and over 1000+ other clients put their faith in us to have continued long-lasting partnerships.

How does Le Fumoir tailor its offerings to meet the unique needs and preferences of different establishments, such as five-star hotels and award-winning chefs?

We have a vast product line when it comes to smoked salmon and this was only made possible by our flexibility to work with hotels and chefs to develop the product that is tailored for their specific use cases, for example, our buffet cut for the breakfast buffets.

Looking ahead, what plans does the brand have for expanding its presence in the B2B market?

With all the new hotels, restaurants and supermarkets opening in Dubai daily, we have enough to keep us busy alongside our expansion efforts into neighbouring countries such as KSA and Qatar. We have been based in Dubai for 20 years and we are always excited to see the country we call home grow.

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