An Evening with Ariane Daguin, André Daguin and Marc Levy
On Friday, September 25, 2015, Cultural Counselor Bénédicte de Montlaur delivered the following remarks before a celebration of the 30th anniversary of D'Artagnan gourmet food purveyors. The discussion featured D'Artagnan Founder and CEO Ariane Daguin, Michelin-starred chef André Daguin, and bestselling writer Marc Levy. The event was held at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.
As Cultural Counselor it is my honor to greet all of you tonight to celebrate the 30th anniversary of D’Artagnan, which is an incredible success story within the French community in America. I think all of us here tonight are very proud of everything that’s been accomplished by D’Artagnan founder and CEO Ariane Daguin, and we look forward to the signing of her new book, D’Artagnan à New York, after the discussion.
We are fortunate to be joined by her father, Chef André Daguin, as well as novelist Marc Levy. I also want to thank Jean-Luc Colombo; thanks to him, you can all enjoy some wine after the talk as well!
I’d like to thank you all for coming tonight. I know you are here because you love foie gras, of course, but also because you love Ariane Daguin. I’d like to share with you my own connection to Ariane, which is why I liked her from the moment I met her.
I met Ariane a few years ago, and the truth is that she brought back my childhood memories of reading The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, because I felt that she was the female version of D’Artagnan. She has the same spirit: she’s always smiling, friendly, but she has a lot of audacity. Her life story speaks to the similarities: she’s from Gascony, France, like D’Artagnan. She’s from a family of seven generations of chefs, and she could have stayed in Gascony and worked with her father, but she wanted a new adventure. She wanted to go to America. That’s what she did, and she founded D’Artagnan in 1985, to great success. D’Artagnan quickly became known for its foie gras and other delicacies, which you can purchase across America, and Ariane has since become a major player in the culinary profession.
She has stores in New Jersey and Chicago. She’s a board member of City Harvest. She’s also very active in the American Institute of Wine and Food, and at Women’s Chefs and Restaurants. In 2005, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appétit Magazine. In 2006, she received a well-deserved Legion of Honor award.
At the Embassy, and especially here at the Cultural Services, we are very happy to celebrate Ariane. As you know, gastronomy is an important part of French culture. It was recognized as part of the World Patrimony by UNESCO in 2010, and our Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius incorporates gastronomy into his own work, because it is an essential French tradition and export.
Tonight is all the more special due to the fact that we not only have Ariane with us, whom we see quite often in New York, but also her father, André Daguin. Perhaps he will be able to help us understand what exactly is behind Ariane’s amazing achievements. But beyond that, there’s barely a need to introduce André Daguin because he’s so famous. He’s a Michelin-star earning French chef. He is the author and co-author of several cookbooks, including Le Nouveau cuisinier gascon, and 1 canard 2 Daguin, which he wrote with his son Arnaud. He was also President of Union des métiers de l'industrie hôtelière, and a member of the Conseil économique et social. He even ran for election in Gers in 1993.
Perhaps most notably, he was the inventor and promoter of the magret de canard, which he has featured on his menu since 1959.
Last but not least, we have someone else with us who is quite well-known to you all: Marc Levy, one of our most-loved French authors. His first book, If Only It Were True, was made into the film Just like Heaven, directed by Steven Spielberg. Since then, all of his books have been best-selling novels. As Cultural Counselor, I’ve found him, like Ariane, to be an excellent partner and a real source of support for us at the Embassy.
So tonight, we are very honored to have these three very distinguished French guests. And I think what they have in common is this word audace. They all share this audacity that was characteristic of D’Artagnan.
Tonight is a perfect introduction to another event, Best of France, which will be held in Times Square during the next two days. We will have a stand for Albertine Books, celebrating our opening one year ago, so I hope to see you all there.
I will now pass the floor to our speakers, Ariane Daguin, André Daguin, and Marc Levy, who will share their passion for food and savoir-faire with us.
Thank you very much, and enjoy!
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