Vauthy, Brasel, Schwartz, Carmellini Speak Out On California Foie Gras Ban

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Britannica.com
California is banning foie gras. How do Miami chefs feel about it?
On July 1, the state of California will institute a ban on the "force feed[ing of] a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size" as well as the sale of products that are a result of this process. This falls under sections 25980-25984 of the California Health and Safety code, which was enacted in 2004. According to the cited code, anyone caught raising a duck for foie gras or selling the product can be issued a fine for $1,000 per violation.

In plain English - in a few weeks you won't be able to get foie gras in California. Already California chefs are up in arms, rallying support to repeal the ban. Well known restaurateurs like Thomas Keller are trying to compromise by promising more humane standards put in place and there are even t-shirts that you can buy, stating "Don't touch my foie gras".

It should be noted that foie gras production, which involves the controversial force feeding of ducks through a tube, had been banned in Argentina, Israel, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, and Poland. In 2006, the city of Chicago banned the sale of foie gras, but the ban was repealed in 2008.

Though foie gras sales are still legal in Florida and there are no laws banning the sale or production currently on the table, Short Order thought it would be interesting to ask some of our city's best chefs what they thought of the California ban. We got a surprising earful ... and a lesson in civics.

Peter Vauthy
Vice President/Executive Chef, Red the Steakhouse

"I actually have lots to say on the subject as I grew up with geese, ducks along with other animals,raised chickens and know that from first and experience ducks and geese can naturally eat more than you could ever imagine... Foie Gras has been made for thousands of years and has a long culinary tradition. My biggest concern is once you ban foie gras,where does it end? Whats next? Foie gras is not for everyone, but I am a firm believer in freedom of choice. If you don't like foie gras, then exercise your freedom by not eating it."

Sean Brasel
Chef/Co-Owner, Meat Market

"California can do as they wish, but I don't think there's much difference between force feeding ducks to make foie gras and baby veal. My concern is where the line is drawn between what is, and what is not acceptable when it comes to 'producing' food."

Andrew Carmellini
Chef/Owner, The Dutch

"I have always had a problem with the anti-foie people. Why not put their efforts toward the tomato or sugar cane pickers in Florida and the quality of their lives? 99.9 percent of Americans eat tomatoes and sugar. 001 percent of that eat foie gras."

Jamie DeRosa
Executive Chef, Tudor House
"The question is, what is the consequence for defying that ban? Will the chefs/restaurant be required to pay per offense penalty, or receive a slap on the wrist, and will chefs/ restaurants ignoring the shark fin ban be treated equally? Any chef worth wearing a white coat and commanding a proper kitchen wants to know where and how the ingredients are being raised, fed, treated, massaged, caressed or any other attempt to make something more then it is- this includes that of geese and duck. It's also interesting to note that some chefs will dismiss the assertion that the method of raising ducks and geese for foie gras is cruel, but all agree that the practice of finning is (no argument there)."

Michael Schwartz
Chef/Owner, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
"It's total fucking bullshit. Why don't they go after the chicken industry? Now there's some fucked up shit that is a real issue. If people would go to both facilities they'd have an eye opening experience. Pick some battle that's going to mean something. Think of all the environmental and health impacts of industrial chicken farming. The chicken industry could take some tips from the foie gras industry in terms of care of animals. Aggravating."

Kenny Gilbert
Corporate Chef, 50 Eggs Restaurant Group & Executive Chef, Swine Southern Table & Bar
"Foie Gras has been a part of the culinary experience for so long. As a chef we are classically trained to prepare the product. I do not believe it is cruel. The product is farm raised, fed and harvested. When speaking about harvesting Kobe beef, it's OK to have a person raise a cow, provide massages and feed it fatty foods so it produces a fattier product. For me it's all the same. Fat is flavor, period... How you get there should be up to the farmer."

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Location Info

Red the Steakhouse

119 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Tudor House Restaurant - CLOSED

1111 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Meat Market

915 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

130 NE 40th St., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

The Dutch

2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Swine Southern Table & Bar

2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL

Category: Restaurant

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10 comments
Philip Tripp
Philip Tripp

Bravo for this piece!  It's appalling that anyone who knows the cruelty in each bite of foie gras can still support it.  Deliberately torturing birds for a fleeting taste of something is morally indefensible.   How do these chefs sleep at night knowing full well that birds are suffering and dying because they still use this product?

Danny Brody
Danny Brody

While I used to love and revere chefs and restaurant people in general, I have to say that the opinions of the chefs here sound so dumb that one can't help but think that the whole business has been consumed by the dumb-it-down, lowest-common-denominator thinking of reality/cooking TV and/or the restaurant business's endless PR-driven folderol.   And Michael Schwartz, especially, should know better.  Michael, the same people who have pushed for the legislative ban on foie (about which I am completely agnostic), have been working hard, for twenty years or more, to get the industrial chicken farms cleaned up.  These same people DO work on other issues, many of which are supposedly near to these chef's hearts.  So my only conclusion is that these chefs are either ill-informed, or being willfully ignorant.  Because I know they could not be as dumb as they sound here.

suckitfoodie
suckitfoodie

Dear Ill Informed Morons who commented below me, Foie Gras is not a fad item, you useless cunt. It is a delicacy dating as far back as the egyptians. Secondly, when producing foie gras, the entire duck is used. Meaning, not only is the duck harvested for its liver, but everything else. Including, its tongue, testicles, and blood. Finally, you fucking half-wits, we should be so lucky as to argue whether eating foie gras is ok are not. At least we have food, potable water, and the like. This is a country where people are lucky enough to get to choose what they want to eat. And the chef's that commentated above are exactly that CHEFS. They are not politicians, social advocates, or spokesmen. If you don't like foie gras, that is fine. But who the fuck are you to tell me, what I can and cannot eat. Like the H20 song goes. "don't going waving flags, till you know what you stand for!" GO GET EM AC

David T
David T

An exaggerated issue filled with misinformation. There's nothing cruel about foie gras when done correctly. Anti-foie folk only have the "How would you like a tube down YOUR throat?" argument. The problem with that is that humans can choke. Ducks don't. The same esophagus we use to breath, we use to eat. Ducks on the other hand have two separate passages: one from the mouth to the stomach for eating. The other from under the tongue to the lungs.  It's the reason why pelicans can swallow whole live pigeons in one gulp without discomfort. No one in their right mind will argue that eating is torturous for pelicans. It's an unexamined argument that's effective by shouting people down and intimidation rather than discourse. 

Getoutofthecityonce
Getoutofthecityonce

Wild ducks and geese are in the wild all over the wold. Mallard is very tasty and completely natural. Never ate a wild goose but I have seen plenty of them. And I did go to public school  

Samantha
Samantha

Well most people currently eat cow's ass.  And people throughout the world do eat sperm from various animals.  Just saying.  Eating animals can be dirty business.  Most people are either ignorant or dont want to think about it.  

Emil bron
Emil bron

Would not exist if not for man? You belong with the idiots in s fl

Escott7
Escott7

I am sorry but these chefs' arguments make no sense and show no thought in their arguments? Tomato pickers? please! There is a huge difference between an employee under less than ideal circumstances and horrific torture....do u want poles stuck down ur throat? On the whole, the food industry is inhumane and needs overhaul but will not happen. Do not listen to a chef's opinion...these are not the most intelligent, informed people on human / animal rights.  

Beast
Beast

You morons would eat a horse's ass if it was hyped as trendy and cool. I hear that sperm is the next Foie Gras. Eat up you douche bag.

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