Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1119718

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Page 52 of 155

D 'Artagnan was a 17th century French Musketeer—not just a liter- ary or movie character—who did "things for the right reasons with panache, and not only for himself," says Ariane Daguin. She hails from Gascony, the same region of southwestern France as the like-minded hero, and named her gourmet food company after him. "From the beginning we did things the right way, organizing small farmers, caring about animal husbandry, never compromising," Daguin, 60, says. She is the seventh generation of a family in the food business. Her father, André Daguin, ran a Michelin-starred hotel restaurant in Auch, France. As a child, she learned to debone ducks, make terrines, and cook game birds. When Daugin realized her younger brother would be her father's successor, not her, she decamped for New York to study political science and journalism at Barnard. "The man was going to take over, and I didn't want to do what was expected of me—to marry," she says. The cost of college proved daunting. Her part-time jobs didn't cover expenses, so she couldn't continue. The downtown charcuterie shop that employed her proposed she join them full-time, with a contract that included a green card. "My father was really discouraged when he saw how I dropped out of school and didn't know what I was doing," she says. Still, she persevered. Five years later, in 1985, she founded D'Artagnan. It was very difficult at first, she says, but gradually she gained a reputation among restaurant chefs for offering high-quality foie gras, smoked duck breast, and duck confit. Daguin's Union, N.J.-based business is now a multimillion-dollar operation, supplying Wagyu beef, Berkshire pork, and Salt Meadow lamb. Her portfolio also includes antibiotic- and hormone-free Green Circle chicken, heritage turkey, no-nitrates bacon, pates, sausages, fresh truffles, fresh ramps, and fiddlehead ferns. Professional chefs comprise 65 percent of her sales, the rest divided between retail outlets and online orders. "It's all about the raw materials," she says. "We are growing nicely geographically and inching West, looking at California." Denver is the most recent of the company's five distribution centers. And yes, she did get her exacting father's stamp of approval. In the 1980s, he came to the United States on a cooking tour and needed the finest ingredients. Her foie gras was the first in America he tasted. He served it along with her smoked duck breast and confit. "He got reassured in that way," Daguin says. —J.B. ARIANE DAGUIN D'A RTAGN A N 50 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

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