Please Keep your Hands in my Food: Why this butter made people mad

beure - Butter

Kneading butter at the Beurre Bordier atelier in Brittany. Image from the Eater video found below

In July 2022, I was filming a video about Dijon mustard in a village restaurant in Burgundy when the chef said to me,

You should really do a story about Beurre Bordier up in Saint-Malo. That’s what all the big French chefs use.”

Beurre Bordier

I had never heard of Beurre Bordier, but I soon discovered that was almost like never having heard of Ben & Jerry’s — it was the butter, renowned both in France and around the world, a gem, but hardly a hidden one.

Four months later, Eater sent me to Beurre Bordier’s atelier in Brittany to see the magic for myself. The company was founded by Jean-Yves Bordier, who in the 1980s revived the historic technique of remalaxage – or re-kneading – and developed a roster of flavored butter including the signature Brittany seaweed butter that the company is known for today.

Monsieur Bordier had recently retired, but the company’s oldest employee Vincent Philippe graciously walked us through the entire process. I learned that Beurre Bordier does not produce butter from cream. They buy high-quality, organic churned butter in giant blocks and rework it on a giant wooden kneading machine by adding salt and removing water until the flavors become more developed (read: delicious).

Then they add exciting flavors like wild garlic, Madagascan vanilla, buckwheat or yuzu, just to name a few, and form it into custom sizes and shapes for customers around the world.

A few months later, I even spotted Beurre Bordier for sale in a swanky Bangkok shopping mall. I excitedly told the young woman behind the counter that I had just been to the place where the butter was made. Understandably, she pointed at the butter as if to say Cool story, and would you like to buy some?

You can see the whole process here:

Butter and YouTube

To date, 6.6 million people have watched this video, making it my most-viewed work (full disclosure: anything about butter performs well on YouTube). Nearly 2,000 people also took the time to leave a comment. Here is a selection of them:

 – “i really like the amount of hand hair that went to making of this butter”

– “love how they wear a Hairnet but his Hairy arms are wide open”

– “Love the taste of finger prints in slice of butter..!!” (This one really cracks me up: What do fingerprints taste like? Imagine slicing butter and finding one inside!)

– “While I’m sure this is quality butter I don’t want employees working gloveless with hairy ass arms kneading my butter.”

– “Hand sweat adds flavor.”

Now, if you’re going to work with YouTube in any capacity, you can’t get bent out of shape about the comments. In fact, it’s wise not to read them at all, except in specific cases like Eater videos because there are often a lot of lovely comments from people who have nice things to say.

To me, however, these particular comments are emblematic of a wider societal problem: We simply can’t stand hands touching our food. I’ve noticed it in other places, too – like this Instagram Reel and this one where people are wearing gloves while cooking for no apparent reason.

Sure, some people may wear gloves to avoid the squishy texture of raw meat (although in the first video, he doesn’t even touch the ground beef!) but what purpose do gloves serve when slicing an onion or an avocado?

It seems that somewhere along the line, we got the idea that hands = contamination and that we should use gloves when preparing everything, as if the kitchen were a hospital. We forgot that cheese is made of mold and yogurt formed by bacteria. Food should be clean, but it was never sterile to begin with.

No longer a germaphobe

Ironically, I grew up quite the germaphobe. Even as a kid, I couldn’t stand to see people make food while wearing rings and so much as an eyelash hair on my plate would ruin my whole meal. Over time though, as I’ve traveled more and eaten in other people’s homes, I’ve come to realize that hands are precisely what elevates food from a simple means of sustenance to one of life’s greatest pleasures.

Food safety is important, but cleanliness shouldn’t mean no human involvement.

In many places around the world, food is now something that comes in a brightly colored package with lab-derived ingredients. Cheese is wrapped in plastic with a picture of an idealistic-looking farm that hardly resembles modern, industrial dairies. In the U.S., I recently saw flawless, elongated bell peppers, bagged and branded with a cutesy name as if they were produced in a candy factory instead of a field.

This isn’t a rant against mass-scale food production, which has allowed us to more efficiently feed ourselves, and refocus our energy on other areas. I’m simply pointing out that the more detached we become from what food actually is, the more we develop a warped view of how it should be produced. We’d rather a machine pop out perfectly uniform, brightly dyed pieces of cereal than eat butter molded with care by clean, washed hands.

At Beurre Bordier, Vincent explained that bare hands allow the workers to understand; if the butter has been mixed correctly, and if the temperature and consistency are right. In other words, whether it’s safe and delicious.

To be clear, not all cultures seem to suffer from the fear of hands touching food – some embrace it wholeheartedly. After all, isn’t this the way it’s been done since the literal beginning of mankind?

I, for one, would like to say:

please keep your hands in my food.

As Vincent told me on the day I visited Beurre Bordier, clean hands are much preferable to dirty gloves.


What’s your view on French butter? Share in the comments below.


Further reading:
French Butter why is it so delicious?
Butter: Exploring the French Paradox


About the Contributor

Anna Muckerman

I’m a video journalist and writer forever in search of tasty food and the story of the hands who make it. I live in sunny Nice with my husband and cat. You can follow along with my culinary adventures at or find me on Instagram

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