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More than a Simple Peppermill

By Rebecca Taylor

Originally published in Journal Le Félix in October 2021

Perhaps you’ve heard that cooking is a magnificent form of art? When you do, you may be thinking about decorating cupcakes or creating a five-star meal. You have likely not associated the words art with peppermills and salt mills. But I’m going to change that. I recently visited Moulins Tremblay – Peppermill Tremblay in Val-des-Sources, Quebec.

I was amazed to see all of the different models of salt and peppermills. While I had seen some of them in the past, seeing the extensive display of options was very impressive. There were so many different designs and colors of mills to experience. Some of the models are completely one of a kind because they are part of the « Métiers d’art collection » which is made from wood which has a more rustic look.

In 1995, Sylvain Tremblay’s dream of turning salt and peppermills into works of art began. He had a passion for art and wood. This perfect combination was the beginning of Moulins Tremblay-Peppermill Tremblay. The company was officially started in 2005. When he passed away in 2019, he bequeathed the company to his friends François Vincelette and Mélanie Gauthier. François had spent a lot of time working with Sylvain and understood the use of the majority of the machines used in the 17-step process of making the pepper and salt mills. They made the decision to take over the operations of Moulins Tremblay – Peppermill Tremblay and moved it to its current location in 2020. Shortly before his death, Sylvain had planned to set up shop in our town of Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey, but due to his illness, he was unable to live in the house he bought in our community.

The majority of the mills were created directly from Sylvain’s drawings. All of the dimensions for each of these works of art were written in his portfolio. In total, the binder of options includes around 160 models, of which 31 are currently in production. Recently, Moulins Tremblay – Peppermill Tremblay collaborated on a project with Mélanie’s father Rénald Gauthier, who is also an artist. They added lovely and colourful birds known as the Messengers of the Universe to the top of the mills.

Currently, some of the most popular models are the ones with a monochrome look. But there are also some other favorites in the collection which are a little more colorful. Some preferred models from fans of this charming company are the carrot, the chef, and the pig. For Christmas, there will also be mills shaped like trees and nutcrackers. Some kitchens don’t only have one salt mill and one peppermill but a whole collection to allow for a unique experience with every meal. These mills are also amazing conversation pieces at the dinner table.

A water-based paint or stain is used on the mills to give the ones which are not an original wood color their unique personalities. Each mill comes in a lovely gift box and includes a sample of salt or pepper so that the mill can start being used right away. Recently, Moulins Tremblay-Peppermill Tremblay began using new labels on each of their projects. The lovely tag pays homage to creator Sylvain Tremblay.

The mechanisms on the peppermills are guaranteed for life. Full details on their quality and how to clean your mill can be found on the website. The majority of the wood is sourced locally. Each mill is made by hand with care. Moulins Tremblay – Peppermill Tremblay also carries different varieties of pepper from Madagascar. Soon they will also be carrying salts from the Magdalen Islands.

The company has been making its mark being known in Canada, the United States, and France. It has won several awards including McAuslan Plein-Art Award of Excellence (2007). It was also awarded a Guinness World Record in 2004 for the largest pepper mill in the world (at that time), with a height of over 3.4 meters and a weight of 148 kg. The pepper mill is on display at the Via Allegro restaurant in Toronto.

The next time that you think about the art of cooking, I hope that you’ll think of these amazing salt and pepper mills. Not only are they practical, but they’re also a source of beauty and joy. You need to see them to completely understand how incredible these works of art are.

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