Nougat. First you like it, then you love it and finally... you become addicted.
At Nougat Vital they know the reason why.
Nougat is their passion and they’re constantly working to preserve that unique taste experience becoming rare today.
When you study the history of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, you soon discover how deeply-rooted nougat is in the Christian, Jewish and Arab cultures. The word nougat comes from the Latin nux gatum, which can be translated as nut cake. It travelled to Western Europe from Byzantium.
In 1923, Vital Gormez, scion of a respected line of candy-makers, left his birthplace Constantinople (now Istanbul) to discover the secrets of nougat in all of its incarnations. His path brought him to Montélimar, Alicante and Verona, where he learned about French nougat, Spanish turròn and jijona, and the hard Italian torrone. He perfected his craft and discovered the benefits of the long shelf life of these traditional delicacies. His journey eventually led him to Belgium, where he would begin a new adventure in 1925.
It was there, in Ghent, where Vital met the beautiful young Elsa Soens. They fell in love and decided to marry.
By 1926 Vital and Elsa Gormez were proudly supporting themselves producing their own… Nougat Vital.
Vital understood that the extremely sweet taste popular in the sunny South was not as appreciated in the cooler North.
Without compromising the honest, impeccable character, he tempered the sweetness by keeping the amount of honey in his nougat to a discrete level. However, Vital placed a high priority on maintaining the top quality of the traditional recipe, using only the finest sugars and nuts, the purest honey and the most exotic vanillas. After many trials and experiments, he finally developed a perfectly balanced flavour that quickly became very popular.
In 1936 he outgrew his shop in Ghent and decided to move to the picturesque village of Sint-Martens-Latem, where he installed a new workshop. He became a respected craftsman in the community of candy makers, and fairs and markets served as the ideal place to sell his unique products. He quickly discovered that the many Belgian chocolate makers considered his nougat to be an excellent complement to their selection.
Vital and Elsa took their nougat to a number of trade fairs and salons, and in 1948 their efforts were rewarded with the Médaille d’Or at the Culinary Salon in Brussels.
Vital and Elsa had three children, and in 1958 their son Maurice Gormez joined his father in the kitchen.
Growing up near the steaming kettles of nougat, Maurice soon discovered that he had inherited his father’s nose for absolute quality. He also turned out to be a successful entrepreneur, and under his leadership the company began to grow dynamically.
Eventually, this made Nougat vital the standard for nougat in the Benelux, and it became very popular among the better chocolate makers, candy shops and pastry bakeries.
As the directors of Vital & Son – by now a Limited Liability Company – Maurice Gormez and his wife Lydie Haerinck set their sights even further. In 1978 they moved the company to a larger facility in Nevele and in 1984 Nougat Vital was one of the first Belgian companies to participate at the Internationale SüsswarenMesse in Cologne, the world’s leading trade fair for sweets.
This was the beginning of a successful export venture. Nougat can tolerate severe climate extremes, and with its long shelf life of 18 monthsand its lack of artificial additives it is ideally suited as an export product.
In 1985, all of Maurice’s hard work was rewarded with the Oscar for Export in Brussels, and in 1986 he won the International Food Trophy in Barcelona. That year, the trophy was exclusively dedicated to nougat, and Vital’s nougat was chosen amongst 200 candidates from more than 40 countries as the Best Nougat in the World.
In 1990 Maurice Gormez and his team developed a new use for nougat in their laboratory. As granulates and cream, nougat became an important ingredient in the chocolate, pastry, biscuit and ice cream industries in Europe and abroad. Today, these products represent half of the company’s volume.
Starting in 1994, daughter Veronique Gormez and son-in-law Matthias Haeck became the third generation of Vital nougat-makers.
They introduced the concept of marketing and the brand became a pioneer in the industry; often imitated but never equalled. This mix between tradition and modernity guarantees customers solid service, as exemplified each day by the many loyal business relations.
In 2005, Vital took the next step in its development with the construction of an entirely new state-of-the-art production facility at the location in Nevele. The production process was redesigned, with the greatest respect for Grandfather Vital’s original recipes, but taking advantage of modern automatisation techniques. Purchasing, production, sales and logistics became a well-oiled organisation, in which product quality and safety are the top priorities.
In 2009, Nougat Vital’s unique taste and texture were rewarded with the International Taste and Quality Award.
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