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LA Chefs Respond to California’s Foie Gras Ban

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California chefs react to the recent 9th circuit ruling

Foie gras with beef tenderloin
Shutterstock/Somkiat Insawa

If a new foie gras ban feels like déjà vu, that’s because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld yet another ban last week. The lawsuit has been an ongoing feud between producers, chefs, and animal rights activists since 2004. The latter argue that the force-feeding of birds is inhumane, and the original ruling must be upheld. The Los Angeles Times spoke with local chefs to gauge their reaction.

The 2004 ban gave producers seven years to come up with an alternative production process. After a short foie gras embargo from 2011 to 2015, chefs then celebrated the ban’s lifting by showcasing copious amounts of foie gras on their menus. Last week’s ruling will have an impact throughout California, and with producers beyond state lines.

At Neal Fraser’s Redbird, the foie gras torchon is a top seller. In an email to The Times, “Don't we have anything better to do than attack foie gras? Like ending childhood hunger, cleaning up Houston or getting a step up on homelessness. Foie gras is not the problem.”

Los Angeles chef Eric Greenspan characterizes the ban as “just crazy:”

“Nobody likes to get held from cooking things that they usually love and not only that, but this is something customers love, too,” Greenspan said. “Don’t eat it if you don’t want to, but don’t impede on anyone’s rights to do what they want to do. Foie gras is one of those things to me that connects classic food to modern food and it’s been going on for so long and such a part of so many great classic cuisines that it will be missed. Let’s ban assault rifles before we ban foie gras if you want to talk about cruelty.”

Sean Chaney, chef of Hermosa Beach’s Hot’s Kitchen is a plaintiff in the case,“If California gets away with this, what’s next? Bacon?”

Although the People’s Ethical Treatment of Animals are ready to celebrate, the lengthy appellate process will keep foie gras on restaurant menus for the moment. The ban’s challengers can appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if they lose.


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