When Ariane Daguin founded D’Artagnan it’s not clear whether she envisioned her company expanding into selling bison, duck rillettes, and truffle butter 28 years later, but it is certain that she expected to keep her strict guidelines on quality consistent. Through providing the United States with quality game meat, foie gras, and game birds, she made both her and her company name respected and well known.
The Daily Meal sat down with Daguin at New York’s Fancy Food Show earlier this month and spoke with her about her company, her story, and her new products coming to the market.
As a daughter of André Daguin, a Michelin Star chef, Daguin might have left her richly-influenced food world to go study at Columbia University, but she was never too far away from her roots as they followed her and led her to pursue domestic foie gras production, under the name D’Artagnan in 1985, and for the first time in the United States. Through her rise to understand just how much in demand these meats were in the United States, she began to make game birds, like quail, and game meats, like wild boar, available to restaurants and bistros, and even the general public through her company D’Artagnan. Daguin said her company continues to thrive honestly and continues to maintain the same wholesomeness as before because “Any Chef who respects his title, his job, knows, he needs the right ingredients [and] I am respected, not rich.”
What makes D’Artagnan different from its competitors is the way in which they purchase their meat. By extracting their meat from small farmers, they avoid chemically hosed down cattle and make sure that their farms are keen on what animal welfare means to everyone. “They [the customers] don’t realize that you are what you eat,” said Daguin, referring to farms that practice unsafe conditions and treatment methods for the sake of mass production.
Past her 28th year in business, Daguin plans to educate the United States and is impressed with how far the country has come in observing quality. She still looks to improve the attitude and quality that Americans typically have towards meat, though. “Because our parents and grandparents were eating hamburgers, it’s hard for us to accept that the meat isn’t good.”
D’Artagnan stresses stringent standards for their meat, which in turn, explains the quality in which D’Artagnan is always held to. With a strict policy on animal welfare conditions, including no hormones, antibiotics, or chemical treatments, D’Artagnan’s quality meat purveyors aim to standardize excellence for the exact same price as the value of the meat.
Daguin shared a piece of advice with us that her father gave her, “A good chef is not somebody who can do something good with precious ingredients, like caviar, foie gras, or fresh truffles; a good chef is somebody who can do something delicious with all parts of the animal, as it comes in nature.” Daguin has lived by and imposed this advice through her practices at D’Artagnan for roughly three decades. She has become a household name through this, refusing to let her standards lessen for the sake of low-cost meats.