Sunday, January 16, 2011

To Foie or not to Foie?

Yes, I know, corny title for a post but I couldn't help myself.

For the last week, the Chef world has been abuzz over news of Martin Picard's decision to bow out of this years Winterlude festivities since they asked him not to serve foie gras at the kickoff dinner held at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, QC.

I've been chatting with chefs from all over Canada this week, in the kitchen, on the phone and over the internet getting a real earful about how people feel. Some chefs think he's great for standing up for a food that he loves but many more seem to be disgusted that Chef Picard is unwilling to cook a meal without the delicacy. Locally, a fabulous restaurant in uptown Waterloo decided to show solidarity with Picard and serve foie gras pate free with every meal for one night.

I know that Chef Picard is famous for his foie gras dishes, as he rightly should be. I also understand that as a chef, creativity is paramount and with the egos involved, it is not easy to kowtow to someone else's demands. However, in an industry that prides itself on serving a customer's every whim, it is unfathomable to me that Picard would be so childish as to refuse to cook a dinner without the foie. My favourite food is eggs, do I use them in every meal? No. This chef seems to have fallen into the "It's all about me" trap. No, Monsieur Picard, actually it is all about the customer.

In addition to this, I just have to say I have been to a farm where geese are prepared for their final fates. As most chefs, I adore foie gras, it may just possibly the most sensual, fulfilling and exquisite flavour and texture combination known to man. But as a chef, I am also concerned about where my food comes from and how it was treated. I buy free range eggs because happy chickens make me happy, I don't eat provimi veal because of the way the young animals are raised and having seen a goose, in a cage about the size of my laptop, with a tube shoved down it's throat... well let's just say that I can live without foie gras if it means a few more geese are saved from the indignity and inhumane treatment.

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