BY HILARY MASELL OSWALD, AUGUST 2014
Meet Doug Dussault, the Larkspur-based chef turned entrepreneur responsible for bringing the world’s best escargot to American restaurants.
The first thing I notice about Doug Dussault is his smile. He flashes it often, each time revealing toothpaste-commercial teeth lined up like gleaming tiles. Though we’ve never met in person, he greets me like we’re old friends as I walk into Bones, Frank Bonanno’s casual noodle spot in Governors’ Park, on an unseasonably warm day this past spring. Not wanting to waste a second, he settles onto a barstool and taps the one next to it. No wonder he’s so cheerful. We’re here to talk about—and eat—his favorite thing: snails.
Everyone knows what a snail is, of course, but in the realm of edible gastropods, specifics matter: Dussault’s sweethearts are Wild Burgundy snails, or “Helix pomatia” if you’re into taxonomy. Undomesticated and sustainable, they are available at almost 1,000 of America’s best restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s Bouchon restaurants and Chicago’s Blackbird, thanks to Dussault. His Larkspur-based company, Potironne, is the exclusive U.S. distributor of the “Kobe beef of snails,” as he likes to call them.