Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
Anthony Bourdain supports it, Wolfgang Puck's against it, and on July 1, the state of California is banning it. Whether your stance on foie gras, a duck or goose liver that has been specially fattened through force-feeding the bird, is deliciously decadent food or blatant animal cruelty, the debate around the world rages on. Is the controversy justified? Here's what Valley chefs and restaurateurs had to say.
Christopher Gross, Chef and owner, Christophers & Crush Lounge
We live in a world where there needs to be a lot of modifications made in how we treat animals without obsessing about one product. All animals should be raised as humanely as possible for the sake of the animal and the quality of our food. A stressed animal produces hormones that affect the flavor. Perhaps the energy should be spent attacking the egg farms, which affect a lot more animals. I would much rather be a foie gras duck then an egg-laying chicken in one of those farms with caged chickens. Some people believe that the attacks on foie gras are a way to slowly create a vegan world.
Silvana Salcido Esparza, Chef and Owner, Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen
Foie gras is overrated, but I'm a firm believer in "live and let live." If someone wants to eat it, let them.
Chef Kevin Binkley, Binkley's and Café Bink
I understand why there is controversy, but it's more important that we look at food production as a whole, not strictly foie gras. Other items (such as chicken, beef production, commercial pigs, overfishing, etc.) are as bad or worse than foie gras, in many instances. With that being said, each producer does things differently, and understanding your product and choosing from the appropriate producer is important.
Chef Elizabeth Meinz, Orange Table
There has to be sustainability and humaneness in all of our food. As long as foie gras farmers are being humane, then no, the controversy is not justified.
Chef Brian Feirstein, Cask 63
The ducks and geese used for foie gras are treated better than the chickens we eat regularly.
Dana Mule, GM and partner, Hula's Modern Tiki
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If you don't want to vote for a particular political party, don't. If you don't want to smoke, don't. If you don't want to eat foie gras or patronize restaurants that serve it, then don't. Personally, I find foie gras to be one of the most decadent, delicious culinary pleasures in life. It's an age old delicacy and revered by chefs world wide. How about a little context here? Wouldn't a better focus and use of energy be starving children, ethnic genocide, or defeating AIDS (as opposed to overweight geese)? But, the beauty of America is that we all have the opportunity to express our views.
Where do you stand on the issue of foie gras, Valley diners? Let us know in the comments section.