Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck wrote a letter to restaurant owners convincing them to stop serving foie gras and S.F. restaurants that offered it were met with protesters. However, not everyone is convinced that the ban is justified. TV personality Anthony Bourdain has been adamant about his stance (watch Bourdain’s video) against the ban. With California’s ban beginning on July 1, 2012, a number of L.A. chefs are not ready to give up on the controversial and prized delicacy (goose/duck liver). Animal rights activists who see the force feeding of ducks or geese as inhumane are about to win the war. But for chefs like Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub, who operates both Orange and Pasadena locations, believe that people should learn more about foie gras. “My response to those that are against foie gras is simple. Don’t be blinded by propaganda,” Greg said in an email statement.
The upcoming ban, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004, states: “A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size, or hire another person to do so. A product may not be sold in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.” Restaurants who get caught violating the code can be fined up to $1,000.
A question of ethics
Just like Anthony Bourdain, Greg considers production by responsible, artisan farmers in the U.S. to be ethical and humane. “Ducks naturally overeat to fatten up for migration and farmers have just harnessed that natural instinct. The gavage they use to feed doesn’t hurt the duck. The fact is when you see pictures or videos of tubes being pushed down a duck’s throat, it looks painful – however, ducks have no gag reflex, they breathe through their tongues, and they swallow whole fish. It’s just not true to say that this is animal cruelty. That’s where the problem lies. Lies,” Greg explained.
Chef Greg and pastry chef Santanna Salas will host five L.A. chefs including Brendan Collins (Waterloo & City, Larry’s), Jordan Toft (Eveleigh), Vartan Abgaryan (Public Bar and Kitchen), David Coleman (Michael’s on Naples), and Alex Reznik (La Seine) to inform the public about the ban. “It’s an ethical and humane choice that we make – right alongside the other choices of sustainable seafood and humanely raised beef and pork. It’s a decision we base on the education we obtain on a daily basis from those that are connected to our farmers, and even the farmers themselves,” Greg said.
On Monday, March 12 at 7:30 PM, Haven Gastropub +Brewery in Old Town Pasadena will be hosting “Fight for Foie,” a pre-fixe dinner with each chef creating a preparation of foie gras; such as Foie for Breakfast (blood biscuits, whipped foie “butter,” pickled cherry jam, duck bacon, and quail egg) and Za’atar Crusted Squab (foie gras pastilla, fennel, and Meyer lemon). “We want people to know that these good choices are out there, and that foie gras is one of them. Sure, it’s indulgent. It’s expensive. It’s gluttonous. I’ve always believed in everything in moderation – even those things,” Greg said.
Proceeds from this one-time only dinner menu will benefit The Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards (C.H.E.F.S.), a group leading the charge to reverse the ban. The dinner is $100 per person. 42 S. De Lacey Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105. 626-768-9555.
“Fight for Foie” menu:
Smoked Foie Gras Torchon
Oatmeal Crumble, Sorrel
(Jordan Toft, Eveleigh)
“Foie for Breakfast”
Blood Biscuits, Whipped Foie “Butter,” Picked Cherry Jam, Duck Bacon, Quail Egg
(Greg Daniels, Haven Gastropub +Brewery)
Creamy Foie Soup
Chicken Skin, Bottarga, Hearts of Palm
(Alex Reznik, La Seine)
Tortellini in Duck Tongue Brodo
Foie Gras & Rhubarb, Beech Brown Mushrooms, Micro Celery
(David Colman, Michael’s on Naples)Wild EscolarRoasted Foie Gras, Petit Pois à la Francais, Sauce Albufera(Brendan Collins, Waterloo & City)
Za’atar Crusted Squab
Foie Gras Pastilla, Fennel, Meyer Lemon
(Vartan Abgaryan, Public Bar & Kitchen)
Foie Gras Cheesecake, Foie Gras Bon Bon
Vanilla Crumble, Hibiscus Gel, Micro Tangerine Lace
(Santanna Salas, Pastry Chef, Haven Gastropub +Brewery)