Karlene Bley of Los Angeles spreads her torchon of foie gras onto bread during lunch at the Presidio Social Club restaurant in San Francisco. Last week, a federal judge overturned California's ban on the dish. Photo: Eric Risberg/AP
Karlene Bley of Los Angeles spreads her torchon of foie gras onto bread during lunch at the Presidio Social Club restaurant in San Francisco. Last week, a federal judge overturned California’s ban on the dish. Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

by Sam Sanders, The Two-Way, NPR News 91/14/15)

Last Wednesday, a federal judge overturned California’s ban on the sale of foie gras, the delicacy made from the livers of fatty ducks and geese that have often been force-fed. The ban was approved by California voters in 2004, and went into effect in 2012.

Since the ban was overturned, some chefs using foie gras in their menus have been receiving threats.

Sean Chaney of Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach, Calif., one of the restaurants involved in the case that overturned the ban, spoke with NPR’s Arun Rath one day after the ban was lifted.

“Apparently there’s some people out there that, really, they just, they’ll kill me,” Chaney said. “But I can’t kill an animal that’s raised for this?” He continued, “You know, it goes with it. I’m OK with it. I’m not really too worried about a bunch of people that sit in their dark room writing threats to me. If they want, come on down to the restaurant. They know where I’m at.”

“Some of them are willing to sit quiet for a minute with a protest sign,” says Chaney’s attorney Michael Tenenbaum. “Other ones take to the Internet and issue death threats, as we saw today, with somebody threatening to find him, kill him, shove a tube in him. This is craziness.”

Chaney and Tenenbaum say they’ve been in touch with the FBI and local law enforcement about the threats.

The Huffington Post is also reporting that another chef in California has been receiving threats over foie gras:

“There are some describing the way they’re hoping I will die,” Ken Frank, who owns the restaurant La Toque in Napa Valley, told The Huffington Post. “A good share of them talk about shoving a pipe up my ass or down my throat. But it’s the ones who would like to see me hung by my feet and bled to death with no anesthetic — those are the most disturbing.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, have organized protests in support of a foie gras ban, and the organization sent the following statement to HuffPost after learning about the threats:

“PETA is skeptical of the claim that threats are being made. Anyone who’s desperate enough to want to serve up the diseased, fatty livers of tortured birds is certainly not above making up a fat lie. This big macho chef needs to ‘man up’ and recognize that part of being a man means having a heart.”

As we’ve previously reported, it’s still illegal to produce foie gras in California, even though last week’s ruling makes it legal to sell the product in the state. And even during California’s statewide ban on the dish, many chefs just gave it away for free from their kitchens.

Copyright 2015 NPR.

After Foie Gras Ban Lifted In California, Some Chefs Face Threats 15 January,2015NPR Food

  • Paula Renee

    There’s a reason why foie gras production has been outlawed in more than a dozen countries: It’s an abomination. Anyone who cares about animals should leave foie gras off their plates.

  • Lucy_P

    All violence is wrong, including shoving metal pipes down birds’ throats and pumping their stomachs full of food until their livers become diseased and distended.

  • Animalia

    I also have my doubts about the veracity of these claims, although people can get very emotional.

  • Heather Moore

    If something is too inhumane to produce somewhere, then obviously it’s also too
    inhumane to sell or serve there. And I find it hard to believe that someone who wants chefs to behave non-violently would threatem them. I have a feeling they made that up!

  • Jaiko

    Anyone who cares about animals should be a vegetarian. Otherwise, stay out of my kitchen AND my bedroom!

  • Chris J

    The process of gavage (tube feeding of geese and duck) is considered cruel and inhumane, but I have read enough first hand reports from chefs in the field who describe the poultry all racing toward the person who shows up with the tube, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be ‘force fed’.

    I am not a vegetarian nor a vegan and as another person here stated, eat vegetarian as you wish but stay the #%$& out of my kitchen then.

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