We owe the discovery of foie gras to the Egyptians. Around 2500 B.C., the Egyptian hunters along the Nile noticed that geese liver was bigger, paler, and much tastier during the migration period than during the rest of the year. They understood that this particular liver was the result of the overfeeding process before migration. The migratory birds have the genetic capacity to stock in their liver the surplus of food they eat. The liver then acts as a fuel tank from which the bird draws the energy it needs for its long and tiring journey.
The Egyptians particularly appreciated the taste of foie gras, but since it was only available on a very short period of time, they decided to reproduce that natural phenomenon themselves year round. In order to get a tasty foie gras, they started feeding geese with figs and, later on, the geese were replaced by ducks and the figs by corn.
The Jews were the first to develop the art of feeding ducks and geese. Between the 13th and the 18th century, they were renowned throughout Central Europe for the high quality and impressive size of the foie gras they produced. But the ones who contributed the most to the growth of popularity of foie gras are the French. They improved the feeding technique and also developed the different ways of cooking foie gras that are known today. The foie gras Torchon style, the Bloc of foie gras, and the mousse of foie gras are recipes that have been developed by great French chefs. Over the years, the French people developed a passion for foie gras that they communicated to everyone.
The History of Aux Champs D’Élisé
In 1988, Annette and Élisé François, former dairy producers, decided to begin the great adventure of raising force-fed ducks. At first, they produced about 100 ducks a week with basic equipment. Gradually, the demand for foie gras increased all over Canada, which motivated them to increase their production and to eventually create the company Aux Champs d’Élisé in 1994.
Producing foie gras is far from being an easy task. It took several trips to France to learn about the production of foie gras and there were huge differences between the South of France and Quebec in terms of weather and types of corn. Therefore, besides the French techniques, many years of hard work as well as numerous hours of research were needed in order for Aux Champs d'Élisé to improve its savoir-faire and to develop its own expertise.
In 1998, Aux Champs d'Élisé was able to produce foie gras of high quality on a regular basis, so the owners decided to increase their production and to start exporting in the United States. From 100 ducks per week, the production gradually increased up to 1000 ducks per week, which means around 20,000 kg of foie gras yearly. Because of the quality and superior taste of its product, Aux Champs d'Élisé is now recognized by chefs from Canada and the United States as a producer of foie gras of the highest quality.
The year 2001 was a milestone in the short history of Aux Champs d'Élisé. First of all, Aux Champs d'Élisé doubled its production capacity by building a new feeding facility. Aux Champs d'Élisé can now produce up to 2000 ducks a week, which is about 40,000 kg of foie gras yearly. Also, the holiday season of 2001 marked the launching of a new product line, comprising a pâté of foie gras, a mousse of foie gras, and a dry-cured and smoked magret. This new product line gave Aux Champs d'Élisé the opportunity to make its debut in the retail business in the fine food stores of North America. And, finally, it was also in 2001 that Aux Champs d'Élisé sent its first shipment to Japan.
Aux Champs d'Élisé has now become the biggest Canadian-owned producer of foie gras, but most of all, Aux Champs d'Élisé is now a synonym of high quality products.