The quality of ingredients available to Houston restaurants took a step forward this week with the announcement that D'Artagnan had opened a warehouse here. For 30 years, the company has supplied organic, antibiotic-free meat, poultry, game and truffles to the finest restaurants along the East Coast. Two years ago, the company opened in Chicago. Adding a warehouse in Houston allows the company to expand its presence in the city, which until now had been supplied by overnight deliveries.
When Daguin began to look at where the company's FedEx shipments were traveling, they discovered Houston had become their second biggest delivery market after Chicago.
CEO and co-founder Ariane Daguin tells CultureMap that she moved from France to America because she loves "cowboys and horses." Although her family has a long history in the culinary world, Daguin says she was determined to make her mark on her own.
She founded D'Artagnan when the charcuterie purveyor she was working for opted not to market foie gras made in upstate New York and named her new company after the legendary musketeer who hailed from the same region of France she does. Since a business can't survive on foie alone (sadly), she quickly expanded to free range, organic poultry and other items.
When Daguin began to look at where the company's FedEx shipments were traveling, they discovered Houston had become their second biggest delivery market after Chicago. Restaurants such as Triniti, Tony's, Uchi and Prohibition rely on D'Artagnan for poultry, foie, meat and truffles.
"I want to prove Houston is a viable option," Daguin says. She's contemplating Atlanta next but wants to be sure things work out well in Houston first. "I am a risk taker, but I am not totally foolish," she says with a laugh.
When many chefs talk about local sourcing, the idea of buying from a New York-based purveyor may seem kind of strange, but Daguin explains that local isn't always better. "Local is very good for a lot of reasons (such as) freshness and economy of transport," she says. "But there are specialized things that will never be local."
As she notes, restaurants that want to serve coffee, bananas or truffles will have to procure them from far away.
D'Artagnan sources beef from Strube ranch in Texas, foie gras from New York and produce from Missouri farmers "at the foot of the Ozark Mountains." The company adds new purveyors that meet its standards to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for its products.
Of course, this process is mostly invisible at the consumer level. A restaurant may put a D'Artagnan logo on its menu, but most of them don't. That situation will change on Feb. 10; Prohibition is hosting a multi-course dinner featuring some of D'Artagnan's best local customers: Triniti's Ryan Hildebrand, Mark's American Cuisine's Mark Cox, Uchi's John Gross, Saint Arnold Brewing Company's Ryan Savoie and Prohibition's Ben McPherson. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased online. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.
Daguin will be on hand to meet her customers (the chefs), their customers (the diners who attend) and inspect the warehouse. "It will be a fun thing," she says.