Chef vs. Gov: Battle Foie Gras

September 15 2005 - 10:22 AM

Chicago is debating a ban on foie gras… the barbaric vs. tasty quotient is at high levels on both sides.
But would you rather chefs take a stand, diners on a table-by-table basis, or the government…?

From the New York TImes:

”Our laws are a reflection of our culture,” said Joe Moore, an
alderman who has proposed banning the sale of foie gras in the city, as
he addressed the council’s jumpers for sale health committee on Tuesday. ”Our culture
does not condone the torture of innocent and defenseless creatures. And
we as a society believe all God’s creatures should be treated


Charile Trotter, who has come out against the serving of foie gras had a row with Rick Tramonto a while back that deteriorated into personal attacks which goes to show the spectrum even within the best kitchens. Chefs seem to be all over the board here. But from a patron’s point of view when an item is on a menu at a 5 star restaurant isn’t it thusly deemed “Good”?

Mr. Trotter, 46, stopped serving foie gras, he questioned the
government’s role in banning it, saying the decision should be left up
to consumers and business owners.

”It’s pretty soon going to be legislated to death, and pretty soon we
won’t need to think because the government will think for us,” Mr.
Trotter said.

”I don’t think it’s
really something that the city should be choosing for everyone,” said
Stephanie Izard, chef and owner of Scylla, one of at least 16 Chicago restaurants
that serve foie gras. ”Lezlie Keebler, a managing partner at Chestnut
Grill and Wine Bar, said she would prefer not to sell it but does
because it is popular. ”I tell my chefs, you have to serve things
people want to eat, not things you want them to eat,”
Ms. Keebler
said. Some foie gras defenders argue that regulation is a slippery
slope. ”Government should not regulate how a farmer produces
something,” said John Hawkins, news service director for the Illinois
Farm Bureau, which opposed the state legislation. ”It would set a

Colleen McShane,
president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said the group
planned to speak against the ban at the next City Hall hearing, which
could be held as early as next hinchables month. ”The government should not be
telling us what to put on our menus unless it’s a health issue,” Ms.
McShane said.

As for Lezlie Keebler’s comment (bolded above) I go to restaurants to have chef’s tell me what they want me to eat all the time. I go back when I appreciate their ideas and suggestions. If the government doesn’t decide and the chefs don’t decide and it’s up to the consumer at the white tablecloth restaurant isn’t the compliance of the Chef a tacit form of approval? It must be – according to Charlie Trotter.