Naha mindful of where meat comes from
June 30, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Few of the customers at the upscale Naha, in River North, probably give a lot of thought to where the rib eye, veal or foie gras come from. But more and more local chefs are getting their proteins via a New York-based company called D'Artagnan, which sources ethically-raised animals.
"We're always working with farms, co-ops of farms, and ranches. Usually family-run, sustainable circle farms. All of this is really important now to chefs, and I think now to home consumers as well. They really care about where the product is coming from," said Joelle Moles, of D'Artagnan.
For example, a recent delivery to Naha reveals a veal chop and a rib-eye, both of which come from the Painted Hills ranch co-op in Oregon.
"They have this philosophy as really maintaining a completely stress-free environment. And so what this does is important for both the humane side of raising the animals as well as the final product is going to be more tender in the end," said Moles. "It's completely antibiotic free. No growth hormones. And that's really important to people nowadays for numerous medical reasons."
Chef and owner Carrie Nahabedian loves working with the product, not only because she knows who the farmers are, but because, she says, there's a real difference in the quality and the marbling.
"The product sells itself. I mean, everything they sell is so pure and so fresh and has so much integrity," Nahabedian said. "The product comes in you just know that this animal had a wonderful life. And as they say in the industry, it just has one bad day, right? And that's it."
Even something as controversial as foie gras - fattened duck liver - is produced by farmers D'Artagnan sources specifically for the way they raise their animals. Chefs like Nahabedian say they're spending more time investigating where their products are coming from, and they expect their purveyors to have the answers.
"As a chef, it's our responsibility to offer what's best for our clientele. But also, we need to know where that veal is coming from, because they're going to ask us seven different questions about the veal," said Nahabedian.
Nahabedian says one of the byproducts of having an informed dining public is not only training her staff about where the farms are, but how the animals were raised. And fortunately, D'Artagnan does a lot of that legwork for her.
500 N. Clark St.
Other restaurants carrying D'Artagnan products:
440 S.La Salle St #4000
837 W.Fulton Market
980 N. Michigan Ave.
20 W. Kinzie St.
Café des Architectes
20 E.Chestnut St
restaurants, steve dolinsky
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