Guest post by Matt Oliver!
In a last-ditch effort to reserve the right to serve foie gras, Haven Gastropub Chef Greg
Daniels assembled an all-star cast of chefs for the Fight for Foie dinner at Haven last night. All chefs
present were a part of C.H.E.F.S, the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards. “Our
agenda is to push the ethical humane treatment of animals for state of California. Their agenda is to get
rid of meat, ” Daniels told the Weekly before the dinner.
The “their” in question was the small-but-boisterous group of protestors just outside Haven, holding graphic pictures of geese in various states of duress.
Organizing the protest was Diana Kourda, advisory board chair for the Animal Protection & Rescue
League. “We are protesting this restaurant for use of foie gras, and make sure
people and the chefs are aware of the mistreatment of these animals,” she said. She went onto say if they do not
stop serving after the July 1 deadline, they will keep protesting to enforce the laws.
Each protestor had a visual sign that showed a caged duck or goose being force fed, with the
saying “The reality of foie gras.” As the night grew longer, the protestors voices grew louder with chants like, “There is no excuse for animal abuse,” “Stop the murder, stop the
pain,” “All your murders, all your lies, we will never compromise,” and “Raise your voices raise
your fists, stop these animal terrorists.”
Even with the screaming voices of all nine people on the
street, no one inside Haven could hear the chants.
In the defense of his chefs, Daniels said all the chefs use meats that were raised humanely and ethically; if it were from tortured ducks, he reasoned, it would be a bad product and they wouldn't use them. Indeed, Daniels pays extra
to the people who sell grade A products.
Passerbyers in the Orange Circle watching the APRL protest were bemused. “Why not protest the war, why foie gras?” one wondered? Another onlooker cracked, “At least they use their liver and just not throw it away.” Someone even joked about playing
duck-duck goose in front of the protestors.
Inside Fight for Foie's dinner (photos at Haven's Facebook page) many enjoyed an $80 seven-course dinner filled with foie gras. All in attendance enjoyed the styles of an all-star lineup of local chefs:
Daniels, Pascal Olhats (Pascal Restaurant, Lé Brasserie), Yvon Goetz (The Winery
Restaurant & Wine Bar), John Cuevas (The Crow Bar and Kitchen), Tony Alcazar
(The Bottle Room), Ryan Carson ('Pri-vē), and Pastry Chef Santanna Salas (Haven
Gastropub) as they put their touch on the French delicacy.
“It's bullshit,” one of the diners said, regarding the foie gras controversy. “It's a fucking duck.”
Another attendee brought up another issue, claiming the foie gras ban would put two family-owned foie gras operations out of business, businesses that treat their geese humanely.
“I think we should take the politics out of the kitchen,” Olhats said.
“We chefs care about what we serve and about the animals. We are professionals and Our
customers have to trust us. P.E.T.A. can have good fights and I don't go against them, but this
is not a good one. In France, we eat a lot of duck and it is healthy. The farmers care (about the
animals). Banning is not the solution.”
The dinner lasted well past 10 p.m., while the protestors left early at 9p.m. “It's as simple as this,” concluded one diner. “We are still here eating, and the protestors are gone.”