Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Philly’s Foie Gras Saga Drags On, National Media Starting to Take Note

foie gras and hangar steak at vintage in philadelphiaAnd you know what? We’re totally ok with that.
But in Philadelphia last week, foie was the food of the people. At Caribou Cafe, the sliders came topped with caramelized onions and a piece of pan-seared foie gras. At Zinc, the foie came poached with mango chutney and waffle chips. Diners wearing bold red "We Love Foie Gras" T-Shirts embarked on foie-cathalons.
If anything, at least all the commotion is placing Philadelphia’s bevy of awesome restaurants in the national spotlight anew, something the dining scene here more than warrants. (Consider the alternatives.)
Hugs For Puppies, which began as an informal vegetarian outreach and animal rescue group in Philadelphia in 2002, started approaching restaurants a few years ago and occasionally protesting, says founder Nick Cooney.

"Last December [restaurateur] Stephen Starr stopped serving foie gras and it really motivated us to keep going. Now we are out protesting every week."
Starr, who owns a dozen Philadelphia hotspots, insists that the activists had little to do with his decision to remove foie gras from all of his Philadelphia restaurants. "If they said, 'Can we meet with you?' I probably would have, but instead they use the bullhorn, these really creepy tactics. The bottom line is," he adds, "that it's probably not a good thing to do to the animals. But honestly to me it was a non-issue. It didn't sell that well, I don't like to eat it myself."

But having taken credit for a victory, the Hugs for Puppies group has moved onto other restaurants, picketing the businesses and homes of chefs like David Ansill who recently removed foie gras from his menu at his restaurant Ansill after protesters hounded his customers and staff and leafleted his neighborhood for months. "When I talked to him he hadn't slept in 15 days," says foie gras distributor Daguin. "The acts of the protesters are nearly terroristic," she says. Said Ansill wearily: "It wasn't worth it. I caved."
Jeebus… Poor David.

like we were saying… the formation of Philadelphia Chefs for Choice and their “Freedom Foie for Five” promotion marks “the first time anywhere that chefs have organized to protest the foie gras protesters.” Bravo, Philadelphia Chefs. Firsts are good. Debate, we must say, is also good.

And how can you not love it when an AP story proclaims Stephen Starr to be a “celebrity chef”?

You can’t.

Nor can you not love an article with a title like, “Fight for your right to Pâté.”

Fight for your right to Pâté [Time]
Chefs fight back in war on foie gras [AP, Business Week]

[ Photo via Phila Foodie ]

1 comment:

Liz said...

The Philadelphia Chefs for Choice have given the rest of us a voice. I sure don't have time to stand around with a bullhorn screaming at the protesters, "I love foie gras and I'm going to keep eating it! Everybody! Let's eat more duck!" So, thank you Phily Chefs for Choice for doing it for me.

Also, we should pay close attention to the tactics of these activists. "Terroristic" is a great word for the works of these and other animal rights activists around the country. In Philadelphia and in other cities, these people have even issued death threats. Why should someone have to go for 15 days without sleep over a menu?