There’s a reason that Ariane Daguin chose the name D’Artagnan (pronounced dar-TAN-yan) when she founded her company in 1985. It may seem like an unusual choice for an American company that is known for high-quality proteins sourced from small farms. Read on for the story, which involves musketeers, ducks, and derring-do.
A Little French History
Our story begins in the 1600s, when the real-life D’Artagnan, the hero of the novel The Three Musketeers, was born in Gascony, in the Southwest of France. His full name was Charles de Batz de Castelmore d’Artagnan and he’s sort of an iconic ancestor to the entire region. According to Ariane, he was a pretty active guy, so there may be good cause for the locals to claim they are all descendants of the brash musketeer.
Known for his bravery and chivalry, Comte d’Artagnan was part of an elite regiment of musketeers that served King Louis XIV. Named for their muskets, this mounted regiment was distinguished enough to inspire Alexandre Dumas, a history buff, to immortalize their exploits in his series of Three Musketeer novels 200 years later.
For the people of Gascony, the real-life d’Artagnan always had the mythical status afforded him by the novels. They admire his panache, his character, and how he exemplified the beauty of the gesture that the Gascon people hold dear.
Statues of the dashing musketeer have been erected in many towns, including in the city of Auch, where Ariane Daguin grew up. A short walk from that impressive statue is the Hôtel de France, where her father Chef André Daguin, decorated with two Michelin stars, taught Ariane the hospitality business.
Growing Up in the Kitchen
Ariane grew up cooking and learning all about foie gras with her grandmother at the famous duck markets of the region. By the time she was ten, Ariane could debone ducks, render duck fat, prepare terrines and cook the game birds her grandfather hunted. In Gascony, fine food and wine are just a part of life, something to which every citizen is entitled; hearty wines, foie gras, Armagnac, and truffles are simply woven into the fabric of existence.
A New York Adventure
When Ariane left to attend college in New York City she thought the world of food and swashbuckling musketeers was behind her. Little did she know the adventure that was in store.
While studying and working part-time for a New York pâté producer, Ariane was well-placed to recognize the opportunity when two farmers brought the first domestically raised foie gras through the door. When her employers declined to go into business with the duck farmers, Ariane quit both her job and school and pooled her very limited financial resources with those of a co-worker to start D’Artagnan.
Inspired by her own bravura, she named her new company after d’Artagnan, with a capital D. Her local bartender, who was also an artist, sketched out the first company logo on a cocktail napkin: a dashing duck with a musketeer hat obscuring its head.
A Lasting Legacy
Ariane made the name of D’Artagnan famous again, but this time in America, and for providing the freshest, and most consistent all-natural meat, foie gras, organic poultry and game available. Her name and family history opened doors at fine French restaurants in New York City, where the chefs were delighted to have access to foie gras and duck of the caliber they knew in France.
Ariane felt that Americans were entitled to the same high-quality food she grew up with, and so she emulated the system of farming she remembered in France. She partnered with small, family-owned and operated farms that focused on the welfare of the animals, their impact on the environment and the quality of what they produced.
Ariane built D’Artagnan this way because she believes that care taken on the farm can be tasted on the plate. In other words (her own), “A happy chicken is a tasty chicken.”
Today, D’Artagnan works with hundreds of small producers and organizes cooperatives of farms to supply the increasing demand for artisanal foods raised the right way.
Beloved by the top chefs across the nation, stocked by fine retailers, and with pride of place in the kitchens of home cooks, D’Artagnan has made the name of that musketeer famous in a whole new way.
Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for over 30 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at dartagnan.com, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.
Are you a business looking to serve or sell D’Artagnan? We invite both chefs and food retailers to reach out and become D’Artagnan customers.