California Chefs Cook Up Opposition to Foie Gras Ban

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Nyesha Arrington is preparing for the Foie Festival at the Wilshire Restaurant.
Kelly Carroll

Micah Wexler of Mezza is making a foie gras terrine with cherry, pistachio, and lebne for the Foie Festival.

A month before California’s ban on foie gras goes into effect, five of Los Angeles’ top chefs are set to join Top Chef: Texas contestant Nyesha Arrington in solidarity to oppose California’s foie gras ban with a Foie Festival June 3.

"I enjoy foie gras immensely. I feel that it should be a chef’s choice to select the ingredients that they use and be responsible about their sourcing and how produce, fish, and animals are raised," said Arrington, who is making a foie gras terrine with candied kumquat and toasted brioche to serve during the cocktail reception that precedes the dinner. "If this law goes through, it opens the door for regulation on more foods. I think we need to trust the chefs to make the ethical choice."

The chefs, Ray Garcia of Fig, Kris Morningstar of Ray’s & Stark Bar, Vartan Abgaryan of Public Kitchen and Bar, Micah Wexler of Mezze, and mixologist Jeremy Lake of Playa will join Arrington, the executive chef of Wilshire Restaurant, for a collaborative foie gras dinner served on the patio of her Santa Monica restaurant.

"I’m supporting small farms that produce their craft humanely and responsibly. Those who support the ban don’t stand with sound science and good animal husbandry; they are misleading," said Wexler of Mezze, who is preparing a foie gras terrine with cherry, pistachio, and lebne for the dinner that is open to the public.

The battle over the foie gras ban continues to intensify. This group of chefs is part of a growing number of chefs who are opposed to the foie gras ban.

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Tickets for the dinner are $110 per person, with a portion of the sales benefiting the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards (C.H.E.F.S.). C.H.E.F.S. is an organization of California chefs, culinary professionals, and supporters of sustainable and humane farming standards who oppose the ban on foie gras but support a broader standard for ethical treatment of animals and humane farming practices.

C.H.E.F.S. has created an online petition to oppose the foie gras ban. It believes the ban would lead to the widespread production and sale of contraband, black-market foie gras.

The ban comes from a 2004 law that was passed banning the use of inhumane practices to force-feed the ducks in order to fatten them up.

"We are free in this country to choose what we want to eat," said Wexler. "No group should be able to ban a food because of their ideological and political beliefs."

Tickets can be purchased by calling Wilshire Restaurant, 310.586.1707.

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