The battle between animal rights activists and the restaurant industry hasn't always remained cordial, but last weekend marks a particularly ugly turn, and it cost one L.A.-area chef his job.
Mark Kalenderian, the longtime man behind the stoves at Atwater Village institution The Tam O’Shanter, was asked to resign a few days ago following a bit of online sparring with some anti-foie gras folks that turned particularly nasty. According to Kalenderian himself, the innocuous beginnings started on Facebook (of course), inside the comments and reviews section on the restaurant page for Terrine on Beverly Boulevard.
Terrine, of course, has been a vocal proponent of foie gras since its reinstatement earlier this year, and has as a result occasionally drawn the ire of animal rights activists who view the foodstuff as the product of abuse. Kalenderian chimed in with his own pro-foie perspective and things, predictably, blew up from there (pro tip: don’t feed the trolls). He claims that one particularly nasty activist based in the UK pulled a photo of his child from his Facebook page and dropped it into the conversation as a none-too-veiled threat, which is where things take a turn for the worse.
Barbs were exchanged, gauntlets thrown, and at one point Kalenderian got pretty ugly, telling the female offender that he’d "forego cooking any animal to use your disassembled corpse" for stock, which is surprisingly not the most inflammatory comment found on the thread. Most of the details have since been deleted, but a few screenshots outlining the controversy's less humanizing moments are still floating around on Twitter.
Within hours, the quaint 90 year old Tam O’Shanter restaurant was inundated with negative reviews, phone calls, and social media fire, which culminated pretty quickly thereafter in Kalenderian’s dismissal. It is worth noting that, in a call placed to the Tam O’Shanter, management refused to comment either way regarding the chef’s current status of employment, citing policies in place from their parent company Lawry’s (yep, that Lawry’s). But, in a message to Eater, the chef himself owns up to the forced resignation.
In all, Kalenderian says that he regrets some of his more choice words but is glad that he stuck up for his child and his stance on foie gras. In response, he’s created an open forum online to "oppose bullying animal rights activists." It’s called B.A.C.O.N. (Because All Creatures Offer Nutrition), and it posts on (where else) Facebook.