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Foie Gras

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone....

clearly I'm new here....and I suspect the topic has been discussed...perhaps even at length

if there is an appropriate thread I'd love a link...

I serve a pan-seared filet of beef with a healthy (all right, fair enough that's a bit of an oxymoron, but a large 2 1/2 oz portion) slice of foie finished with madiera reduction....simple and I think delicios

I serve about 5-6 livers a week....a fair amount for a small restaurant in the suburbs of Salt lake City...

but here's the rub.....Last Night I received a certified letter from the head of the local chapter of SHARK (similar to PETA) that i was next on there list for a boycott and protest.....

they have recently made similar threats/protests at a couple other restaurants in the Salt Lake area....at the most recent they went so far as to cut a gas line during service, smash a floor to ceiling window, and punch a server in the face.......


having just received the letter I haven't yet decided how to respond or proceed.....clearly a single menu item isn't worth getting an employee hurt etc.....but the bottom line is where does it end....if Foie disapeared tomorrow we all know Veal or Lamb (or something) would be next...


so.....thoughts?
post #2 of 49

Ignore them

Try to stay off their radar- take it off the menu for a month and warn your employees. Also, I heard about a Spanish company that makes "ethical" foie gras that has won taste awards in France...
post #3 of 49
well, if they are that destructive, do u need anything in your place new, have them trash it and then they can re do your dining room on there dime.

ok if you have everything how you like it, i completely understand that getting any one hurt is not worth it. if that letter was a threat i would turn it in to the local police department.

take it off the menu for a month if the regulars ask for it then still serve it but just take it off the menu for a while then when the heat is off put it back on.
post #4 of 49
Stand up to them. Call the police and tell them you've received a threatening letter. If the letter isn't threatening, research how foie gras isn't any more 'cruel' to produce than grass-fed beef. Read 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' which will give you plenty of ammunition to tell these idiots how there are many better targets than foie gras.
Take them on at their own game. Ask them why they choose foie gras rather than fast food's battery chickens, pork and beef?
Inform yourself. Don't give in to blackmail. Call the press, explain your side of the story first, tell them you don't give in to threats.

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post #5 of 49
Thread Starter 
I'm already on thier radar....they have informed me I'm next..

as I posted......the last restaurant they protested in front of held out for about a month until the restaurant was damaged and employees assaulted...
post #6 of 49
Thread Starter 
:smoking:...."Like a true American standing firmly atop the food chain, I will not be intimated and threatened by terrorists!"
post #7 of 49
they can not do any physical harm to you that is illegal.

If someone gets punch its assault and bettery

If something gets broken, its destruction of property.

I would take the letter to polive so the yhave something on record if they do do anything they have a history that is now know to police.

dont let people tell you how to run there palce just becuase they only know what they think they know
post #8 of 49
Trying to reason with zealots is useless ... they have 1 view ... 1 agenda ... and do not care about anything else.

That said, yes, get the police involved and the press. Be informative as you present your position. But do not expect SHARK to be understanding.

Delete the item from your menu and serve the item only upon request by known customers.

Terrorists are dangerous and I do not propose you give in to them. Appeasement does not work either.

Good luck and keep us informed.
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post #9 of 49

Options

You have a variety of possible responses, but I'm afraid none of them are wonderful -- and most of them involve a cash outlay of some sort.

First, consult an attorney with some First Amendment experience and good local contacts. In light of the more or less extortionate threat, you might be able to get some kind of injunction limiting SHARK's protest so that it does not impede customer access, customers are not harassed, etc. It's a lot easier getting police to enforce a court order, than getting them to come out and make decisions on their own as to what is and what is not appropriate. Since the SHARK foie gras protest seems to be aimed at all SLC and Park City restaurants serving liver, you might consider contacting some of the other restaurants to share legal expenses -- at least as far as trying to get the first injunction.

Second, given what happened at The Metropolitan, you should meet with your staff and get their feelings as to whether they're willing to endure the harassment. I'll bet theyre enthusiastically and unanimously on your side. Also, speak with other people who've been threatened -- especially, Karen Olson who owns The Metropolitan. Find out how the protest actually impacted sales. For all you kniw, this might be the best money-making gimmick since good food. But I doubt it.

Third, if you're going to continue to serve foie gras, you'll need some kind of security. A guard while the restaurant is open, and a video system at least, while closed. But 24 hour rent-a-cop protection is probably best. Again, you might be able to share the cost with other restaurant owners or your building owner. If something, god forbid, should happen, not having a guard to protect customers and employees might be actionable negligence in itself.

Finally, ask yourself, "if these are my options, is it worth it?" My advice is to consider the emotional aspects as well as the economic. Other people have told you what they would do, or think they would do, which is all very nice. Look at the problem with clear eyes, and do what you think is right for you.

Free the geese!
BDL
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post #10 of 49

Peta crazies

That is a tough one, how do you feel about the treatment of geese and ducks, if you can show that the animals are raised in a good enviroment and publisize this it should work in your favor, use the publicity, get the public on your side, if there are any incidents video tape them, document, use their harrassing tactics against them, if they are on your property prosecute for trespass, if they cause any damage procecute for vandalism, touch any staff sic the kitchen staff on them, I'm sure it would relieve stress giving your commi's some vegetarians to play with, not very sporting I know but it would make the staff happy .... or procecute for assault your call.
They have a one strike rule in Utah don't they? use it to your advantage, either that or top your filet mignon with something a little less controversial ( I saw a booth for Canadian seal meat at a trade show last year, now that's a hard sell)

Keep smiling and flame on
post #11 of 49
on a personal note, i wont serve foie gras, even "ethically produced" as far as im concerned... liver diseased animals is not ethical...

and before i get an earful... i know that a lot of the rest is just as bad... i also wont do lamb... im just not keen on the idea of eating baby anythings... veal is also off my menu...

but give me a honking great side of beef or a pig with a spike up its ar$e and ill fetch the logs for a spit roast myself
post #12 of 49
Just remember when roasting that beef, It was once veal. There is a kid in all of us, No? Do you use eggs ? One day they will be a chicken you know !!! And the rest is history. Eat , Drink and be merry:chef:
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post #13 of 49
Thread Starter 
that's fair enough.....but do feel your choice should be mine...or my Guests?
post #14 of 49
Thread Starter 
are you from SLC....or did you just google the local stories?
post #15 of 49
I'm a semi-retired attorney in SoCal. Just as you'd expect from a lawyer, I did a little research before responding. Google figured, but was not the only source.

BDL
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post #16 of 49
Thread Starter 
Right -On....where in SoCal?....I grew up in Diamond Bar, and lived and worked pretty much all over the area before ending up in SLC..


and thanks for the advice.....I spent most of the day 'reaching out' and gathering info...

Karen and I friends so I knew most of the goings on at the metropolitan.....she put me in contact with a local FBI agent today who is very interested in these folks

and of course my Attorney and insurance agent etc...


this is really a rough decision for me...I have kids and my employees are really a special bunch of friends.....the last thing I want to do is put anyone in harms way..... these folks are 'fanatics'.....but just as they have the right to assemble, I have the right to serve a legal product

anyhow...thanks for the responses...they are much appreciated
post #17 of 49
I'm living in Monrovia now. Before that, various addresses on the West side. Mostly, the Oxford Triangle area of Venice/Marina Del Rey.

I'm glad to hear you're talking to a wide variety of people. I was never a 1st Amendment attorney, and am not a member of the Utah bar, so take what I say next as sort of general wisdom and not legal advice.

I think you might be able to get an injunction that will keep the Shark demonstration a certain distance from your door, your parking lot, and the corridor that leads from one to another. The injunction might also include reasonable restrictions on SHARK members' conduct in terms of touching, leafletting, etc. The important thing is not to be over ambitious in what restrictions you seek. IMO, SHARK's conduct has been extortionate. That is, they've threatened commercial disruption in order to get you to run your business in a manner they approve. The fact that the Feebs are interested is a very good sign. That's a channel you want to keep open. I suggest inviting them to dinner to pick their brains -- that is, if you know a good place at which to eat in the area. :roll:

While you don't have enough to file a suit for damages -- the extortionate aspects, the fact that there's been violence and property damage at The Metropolitan, and the fact that they've threatened other restaurants across Utah ought to get you some leverage if and when you seek an injunction in State Court. You may even be able to form a "class" of plaintiff restaurant-owners who have been threatened because they serve foie gras, or are likely future targets for the same reason. That not only spreads the costs, but should add some credibility to your suit. I'm just speculating, you understand. I don't know what's possible under Utah law.

The stuff I'm discussing is pretty much niche law, and your regular attorney might not be the right person. Ask her if she's comfortable with the idea of seeking an injunction -- given the 1st Amendment issues at hand. If not, you might think about consulting with someone who does this on a more or less regular basis.

An injunction is more protection than you might think. In a lot of ways it's better than a statute. It's can be enforced by "Contempt of Court" orders, which get serious in a hurry and aren't easy to stonewall. At some point it becomes too much trouble for SHARK, and they move on to other things.

Make the right someone miserable,
BDL
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post #18 of 49
Be careful with these people. There was a similar situation in New York a while back, where a group protesting a restaurant did a tremendous amount of physical damage to the place. Soon after that, the chef/owner received a video tape in the mail of his wife and kids playing in their back yard. Needless to say this was intended as a threat. People like this are crazy, and capable of anything. I would make it as widely publicized as possible, so that if anything does happen, everyone knows who is responsible and the authorities can deal with them properly.
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post #19 of 49
If you dont have any video surveilance, now might be a good time to consider.

Keep buckets of red paint on hand to splatter on them to see how they like it. Ok, Maybe a little too harsh.

On the day that they show up, I would spend the night at the restaurant safeguarding it. Let them know you wont back down, and eventually theyll get bored and move to the KFC down the street.

Better yet, buy 5 buckets of the Colonel's recipe and offer it to them when they arrive.
post #20 of 49
I know of a similar situation at the restaurant next door to mine. They showed up one saturday with signs and pictures and screamed all night. They even had their children (4 or 5yrs old at 10:00pm) holding signs.

They began to get violent so the restaurant called the police and the police told them they had to protest from accross the street because the restaurant had outside tables. The restaurant took it off the menu but servers verbaled the foie gras selection to tables. Eventually they got bored and less and less showed up each night and they left to bother the next guy.

These people are nuts so I would take the proper legal action if they are violent.

Hope this helps

Kyle
post #21 of 49
Foie gras isn't diseased liver. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Mutton can be much tastier than lamb, you're right, I'm just wondering at what age it becomes ethical to eat an animal?
As for not eating or serving veal - what do you suggest happens to the 50% of calves born to milk cows that are male? They're the wrong breeds to turn into beef, although I'm sure that happens sometimes. Many are just killed and turned into pet food, or simply buried on farm. BBC - Food - Food matters - Is veal cruel? deals with the situation in the UK which is slightly different, but it does make the point that if you drink cow's milk and/or eat cow's milk cheese you have a responsibility to think about what happens to those male calves.
'I don't eat veal' just doesn't cut it I'm afraid.

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post #22 of 49
Can you open carry in Utah? :D :D
post #23 of 49
Thread Starter 
can you in minnesota?
post #24 of 49
No. Rifles and shotguns have to be cased in a public area. A public area means any place that is open to and frequented by the public. The exception being a person's home or place of dwelling, business owned and operated by the person, and in the woods for hunting or target shooting.
post #25 of 49
Your guests can eat whatever they please at home, and you can serve whatever you please at your restaurant... thats why its YOUR restaurant... just know that if i come, i will not order the veal, the lamb or the foie gras...

doesn't mean i wont come - the only thing that will put my off a restaurant completely is if you do your lobsters live into the water... choose it live, knife through the head, then into boiling water is ok...

i just wont eat or order foie gras and if it was my menu, i wouldnt provide it as i dont agree with funding its manufacture...

edit- plongeur: ok not diseased specifically... but that amount of fat constitutes severly decreased liver function, abdominal pain, difficulty walking and would eventually lead to cirrosis of the liver.

and while im at it... thanks for the rest of your post.... im now vegetarian... at least i would be if i really felt it was necessary to avoid everything because something dies.... im merely harping on about how foie gras hurts those ducks and i dont think its right to kill lambs and cows young just because it tastes nicer... if the male cows are killed because they are not usefull in a productive way, as long as its not a cruel kill... then im ok with it... i suppose in that case, veal from male milk cows im ok with... its the intentional breeding of young so they can be culled for they tenderness im at issue with...

of course... i wont stop you enjoying your veal... i wont even stand there and go "yuck... how can you eat veal?" id probably ask how it is? may even try some just so i know what im missing... im civil, i just made a choice thats all
post #26 of 49
Thread Starter 
sorry K....my apologies...coming from utah I assumed that was a slam on our quirky liquor laws....I immediatly equated 'open carry' with bringing your own booze or beer in public and just couldn't figure out what that had to do with with foie...
post #27 of 49

Don't give in

Don't give in to these Terrorists! And that is what they are, terrorists, no matter how they try to disguise it, if they use such tactics. Get some security cameras, hire a big, beefy bartender and carry on as normal. If these guys try anything, call the cops, make a stink and give them plenty of bad press. Under new laws created around the time of the Patriot Act, it is easier than ever to get these kind of groups labelled as terrorists and bring down the full force of the federal government on them. Don't let a bunch of whiny, crying fanatics dictate what you will and won't serve.
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post #28 of 49
And that's all fine.

The problem comes when someone with your ideals comes into my place of business because they've decided that I don't have the same right to chose as you and starts mucking up the place.

We, as humans, are omnivores. We are designed by nature to consume meat protein. If you (the generic you... I'm not directing this specifically at you, the human being using the nom-de-forum "Seraphim") want to get by without it, that's your lookout. But the rest of us have the same right to choose.

I had one of these idiots show up in my place once, making demands. When I politely refused, he made some veiled threats about wrecking my place. My response was to tell my sous-chef to take over and I followed him back to his house. He was surprised when I got out of my car, I'll tell you. So he asked me what I was doing there. I made some veiled threats about wrecking his place, then left.

I never heard from them again.
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post #29 of 49
I'm disappointed that so many who have replied to this thread take such an adversarial stance on this issue. All this knife rattling does is contribute to more controversy and raise the emotional level so that little useful communication can happen. People who object to foie gras in this way are not, necessarily, nuts or terrorists although they may appear so on the surface. Usually, they're passionate young folks who need attention and a cause to focus on.

Boar d Laze (sp?) has good advice. Of course, report threats to the authorities and take what precautions you can to protect your establishment.

In addition, why not attempt to talk to the leaders of this group? Try to direct their efforts toward the production end of the foie industry. Let them know that there are legitimate sources of naturally raised foie gras (BTW, have you tried sourcing and using this product?) that do not torture the birds in the production process. Let them know that if they refocus their efforts into encouraging non-hurtful production, that they'll get better results, better press and ultimately more cooperation from professionals in the food service industry.

Gently remind them that you are serving a legal product that your customers want and enjoy. Inform them that you don't want your customers or employees to fear for their safety, but keep the dialogue open and put a little effort into developing understanding. It's really much easier and less expensive in the long run.

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post #30 of 49
Just so we all know what we're talking about-

A few photos from Hudson Valley Foie Gras:

The gavage funnel-
Izzy Demonstrates the Funnel on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The funnel in use-
Gavage on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

To their credit, Hudson Valley Foie Gras does house their ducks with about 5 times the space normally allotted to ducks and geese in foie gras production. They also do have room to graze outside during some of their lives. However, they have been fined ($50=small tap on the wrist BTW) for building an illegal waste pond, polluting local ground water and multiple other environmental violations.

However, it's reasonable that some people might object to the gavage process. I'm bigger than a duck and the prospect of having that steel tube shoved down my throat and food air-pumped into my stomach (think "No Country for Old Men") is not appealing. My issue is not animal rights (who can know what a duck thinks or feels) but humane treatment of all creatures.

To me, this does not seem humane, or kind. I know others think differently.

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