Paul Bailly, ambassador for Saint-Omer cauliflower

history, landscapes, cultures...
Confrerie Du Chou Fleur @claire Decraene2Confrerie Du Chou Fleur @claire Decraene2
©Confrerie Du Chou Fleur @claire Decraene2|Claire Decraene

He fell into cauliflower by chance, and the love affair has lasted almost 50 years. Grand Master of the Confrérie du chou-fleur de Saint-Omer, Paul Bailly defends and promotes this emblematic vegetable of the Audomarois marshes all year round. Choux devant!

Coopérative des maraîchers de Saint-Omer

At SIPEMA, the Coopérative des maraîchers de Saint-Omer, Paul Bailly is a bit at home. It has to be said that he spent 34 years of his life there, up to the position of director. So he’s no stranger to marsh vegetables! A living memory of the evolution of market gardening, he lived through the creation of the first sales dial, which freed up the cauliflower trade in the 70s, as well as mechanization, land consolidation, the increase in plot size and the decline in the number of market gardeners. “From 300 in the 70s to around 30 today”, he points out.

Confrerie Du Chou Fleur @claire Decraene 1Confrerie Du Chou Fleur @claire Decraene 1
©Confrerie Du Chou Fleur @claire Decraene 1
Master of the Cauliflower Brotherhood

When the time came to retire in 2008, this hyperactive son of farmers, already well invested in the life of his village Ouve-Wirquin, decided to join the Confrérie du chou-fleur de Saint-Omer in 2014. “The Confrérie had already existed for 10 years, presided over by Roger Winock, a former market gardener. Its creation had been suggested by Michel Théret, creator of the confrérie de l’endive, an extraordinary man and active member,” he recounts. Since then, he has dedicated himself and a team of merrymakers to “making cauliflower known, tasted, consumed and appreciated”.

Committed and famous members

There are around twenty of them, including chefs, market gardeners and lovers of Saint-Omer and the Audomarois marshlands (no surprise to find the director of the Saint-Omer Office, Julien Duquenne). Each year, after a year’s training, new members are inducted at a grand Chapter that is both solemn and convivial. Each member swears an oath to relentlessly consume and defend summer cauliflower. Honorary members swell the ranks, like Bacôve restaurant chef Camille Delcroix or Sophie Warot, president of the Parc naturel des Caps et Marais d’Opale and departmental councillor.

The Brotherhood's motto

Cauliflower is our pride and joy. Well-white, tightly-packed and forming beautiful bouquets, I vow to enjoy it from June to November, in this summer of light, in keeping with our motto: quality always.

Gourmet get-togethers

And concretely, what do they do? “We take part in numerous events to promote the consumption of cauliflower,” explains Paul Bailly, citing “the Semaine du Goût, the Salon Nature et Terroir de la LPO du Pas-de-Calais in November, the opening of the tourist season, the opening of the cauliflower campaign in June, and New Year’s Eve ceremonies, i.e. some thirty events a year.” Some create recipes, others parade during chapters of neighboring brotherhoods. And you’re not likely to miss them, with their official attire: a green toga with white piping, a cauliflower-shaped headdress and a medal engraved with the Saint-Omer coat of arms and a bacôve loaded with cauliflowers.

2024: the year of 20 years!

The year promises to be rich in events, as the Confrérie celebrates its 20th anniversary. Don’t miss the traditional Cauliflower Walk in May, departing from Sipema, with soup tasting in the marsh. In June, an exceptional Grand Anniversary Chapter will be held, with the traditional Place Foch parade and the induction of new members.

Hauts-de-France train with the cauliflower brotherhood
Hauts-de-France train with the cauliflower brotherhood
En avril 2022



du pays

de Saint-Omer