4/30/2012 04:15:00 PM

Foie’s Last Stand: Bay Area C.H.E.F.S. Fight Back

Duck Foie Gras Burger at La Toque - get it while you can
As the impending July 1 ban on foie gras approaches, Bay Area restaurateurs have been hosting a plethora of the-devil-be-damned dinners showcasing the venerated duck liver delicacy. But now, no longer resigned to simply watching the time run out on the clock, a coalition formed by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association has made a last ditch effort to repeal the ban.

The coalition, dubbed C.H.E.F.S., the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards, has drafted up a charter that was delivered to the California legislature today, which includes the signatures of over 100 well-known chefs, including anti-ban supporters Ken Frank (La Toque), Douglas Keane (Cyrus) and Chris Cosentino (Incanto), as well as Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), who originally said that he would support the ban. The C.H.E.F.S. are offering a counter proposal that supports the legal sale of foie gras, but would require farmers to raise geese and ducks in a more ethical manner, specifically in a cage-free environment, with minimal stress, and by the use of feeding methods that do not harm the bird's esophagus or beak. The complete details are spelled out in a document they call the California Charter for Hand Feeding of Ducks and Geese. They argue that an outright ban will simply result in a black market of foie gras, as has happened in other cities.

So far, the response from at least one elected leader hasn’t been, um, all that supportive. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, which has been covering the story closely, former state Senator John Burton, who wrote the ban in 2004, retorted, "They've had all this time to figure it out and come up with a more humane way...I'd like to sit all 100 of them down and have duck and goose fat - better yet, dry oatmeal - shoved down their throats over and over and over again."

Oh boy. Looks like this is going to be a pretty ugly food fight.

Foie gras fans and foes: where do you weigh in on this? Are you apt to eat foie gras that's raised in a more ethical way? Or should the whole industry be shut down? Tell us what you think in the comments.


  1. While I am not a fan of foie gras at all, I would definitely prefer more humane methods of raising the ducks and geese. However, I don't understand the appeal of this dish -- can someone explain it to me? I've had pate before, but it's not something I would pay lots of money to eat! Is it a textural thing?

  2. I like it the way it is now. Banning it is a pussy move. Way to go SF. You officially suck now.

    1. It really isn't a pussy move. It actually shows signs of human evolution. As a species we should have the compassion enough to realize that force feeding anything is cruel. I don't care how good it taste. Humanity and compassion trump taste buds.

  3. No way to make this humane..period.
    Stupid thing to fight, they should fight something worthy like childhood hunger. I'm in the industry and glad to see the ban. Chef's will lose customers over this as there are more against it than for it.