Reporting Serene Branson
SANTA MONICA (CBS) — Some famous chefs staged a food fight in Santa Monica Monday night, battling a new state law that bans foie gras, a popular French delicacy that some people say involves animal cruelty.
Renowned chefs gave a tasting to the staff at Melisse Santa Monica. Each item on the seven-course tasting contained foie gras — fattened duck liver, which the state has made illegal after July 1.
“There’s a big industry of a lot of things out there. This is low hanging fruit, easy to go after the foie gras,” said Josiah Citrin, owner and chef at Melisse.
Citrin has teamed up with chefs in L.A. and Northern California to tout their efforts and raise funds for their fight against the ban in a dinner and competition.
“All the ingredients that I try to use, that I use in my restaurant, I really work hard to find humanely-raised animals by farmers who really care about it,” Citrin said.
Together they are a part of the Coalition for Human and Ethical Farming Standards (CHEFS).
The California legislature banned force-feeding animals for food, a process used in producing foie gras.
“This is last dying gasps of foie gras in California,” said Amber Coon of the Animal Protection and Rescue League.
Outside the restaurant demonstrators made their message clear.
“They have large metal tube shoved down their throats three times a day, force-feeding massive quantities of corn gruel,” Coon said.
“People are allowed to eat food, not allowed to torture [it] first,” said spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein.
Bernstein agrees with the ban, saying that chefs and farmers were given nearly a decade to figure out another way to achieve the same results naturally.
“They’re asking for five years to do what had eight years to do but didn’t do. So now the law is going into effect and now they’re crying,” Bernstein said.
The Royce Langham Hotel in Pasadena, Lemon Moon in West L.A., and Animal in the Fairfax District also participated in the foie gras dinners Monday night.
Unless the chefs get a last minute stay, the ban will go into effect July 1.