Visit to Maison Lafitte
We recently went to visit our foie gras supplier-partner: Lafitte Foie gras. I consider our relationship, customer-supplier, as a great teamwork relationship.
It was in the early summer of 2014 when we met. At that time, we had been together for 2 years and our fledgling business was starting to take good shape. We thought it was convenient to work with two suppliers of foie gras to ensure the supply, in case one of the two could not serve us. At that time, Elena and I only sourced from a small producer, near Sarlat, that Claude Marco, a local restaurateur friend, awarded with a Michelin star, had introduced to us many years ago, in 1994 to be precise.
4 was a year of changes, necessary to alleviate the crisis derived from the 1992 Olympic Games. At that time, I had a restaurant in Sitges, where I am from, which was also called El Greco (1987-2007), hence the name Greco Foie gras. Things were not going too well and I was trying to save the business as much as possible. I remember that was the year I started going to Mercabarna at dawn to buy fish and seafood. 1994 became a year of total restructuring, both in the kitchen and in the dining room.
It was the year I completely remodeled the entire kitchen, one of the best investments of my life, and the year foie gras was added to the menu. The crisis has its good side, paradoxical as it may seem, and it is that it forces us to get the best out of ourselves in order to find solutions. Improvements that once the crisis is over are implemented forever in our businesses.
I have made a small parenthesis talking about these years as a restaurateur because I am sure that they directly influenced my current profession and my person, there is no doubt. Back to 2014, I remember it with nostalgia and also with much amazement. I remember that to stock up we would rent an isothermal van with cold and we would travel about 600 kilometers, we would spend the night in Cahors and the next day once we had loaded the fresh foie gras, it used to be about 50 kilos, we would again travel the 600 kilometers back to our workshop. The next day, early in the morning, we would prepare our foie gras in salt, the only product we produced in those days. It was quite an epic, and as you can imagine the business did not allow us to live on it.
So, in 2014, we decided to find another supplier and went to the Landes to look for one. After visiting more than 20 foie gras producers, we chose Lafitte Foie gras. Well, actually it was Elena who bet on Lafitte, I was hesitating whether Lafitte or Paris. Time has proved her right a thousand times over. Since then we have worked side by side and our relationship has always been so professional and diligent that in 2015 we became their ambassadors/distributors for all Catalonia and some areas of the State.
Now we no longer go by van to pick up the foie gras – how crazy when we think about it! We receive our orders every week to prepare and serve to our customers. There is no doubt that the quality of the product has improved dramatically: the feed based on cereals and corn grains, whole, not transgenic, from nearby harvests, the absence of antibiotics, animal welfare, the long rearing of mulard ducks in the open air surrounded by idyllic landscapes, and above all the professionalism of Maison Lafitte, made it all possible. This is not to say that I was dissatisfied with Thocaven who was our first supplier, otherwise why would we venture on such a long journey when we could have been supplied right here in Catalonia?
Maison Lafitte, created in 1920 by Léon Lafitte, has been a family business for 4 generations. It is located in a small picturesque village called Montaut, near the Chalosse hills. It is one of the few companies that has not succumbed to be absorbed by one of the 2 groups that practically control the production of foie gras in France. It is a company, synonymous with excellence and authenticity, which exports its products not only to Europe but to the whole world and which treasures a traditional way of producing foie gras that represents less than 5% of all French production.
Both Aitor and I, who visited the company on this occasion, would like to take this opportunity to thank Fabien Chevalier, CEO of Maison Lafitte, Loïc Poustis, our commercial liaison and our closest collaborator: Fabien Chevalier, CEO of Maison Lafitte, to Loïc Poustis, our commercial liaison and closest collaborator and to the rest of collaborators: Michel, Christophe, Stéphanie, Sylvie, Adéline, Christelle, Christelle Banos, to the Lafitte family, sorry to forget some names, for their generosity, hospitality and kindness for how we have been received and attended during our visit in their facilities and in the farms. It is a pleasure and an honor to have you as a partner. The work, in spite of the crises, pandemics and avian fevers, is made easier with your collaboration. Best regards.
I would also like to thank Michelle and Henri for their love and for making us feel so welcome in their home: https://www.chambres-hotes-dauge.fr/, to all his family and especially to Pilar, thank you very much for everything Pili, muxus!