AR-News: Plagued by activists, foie gras chef changes tune-Article
Ryan Noah Shapiro
ryan at gourmetcruelty.com
Sat Sep 27 13:42:20 EDT 2003
San Francisco Chronicle
Plagued by activists, foie gras chef changes tune
Kim Severson, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, September 27, 2003
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle
A prominent Bay Area chef and his partners, staggering under attacks by
animal-rights activists, say they will improve conditions at their
farm near Stockton where they force-feed ducks to make a French
delicacy called foie gras.
The men also have decided that duck products won't be such a key part
of the menu at a Sonoma specialty-foods shop they plan to open next
"We don't have cages, true, but it is not enough," said Didier Jaubert,
whose home was attacked by animal-rights extremists in August and who
is partners with Aqua chef Laurent Manrique. "There are sometimes
animals who are sick, and they need to be taken care of right away.
There are a set of rules and regulations, but the idea would be to go
beyond these rules and have best production."
The pair's shop, Sonoma Saveurs, was intended to showcase products from
the duck farm, but it was vandalized last month by what police are
calling domestic terrorists. The attackers broke into the historic
adobe building on the Sonoma Plaza and poured cement into drains,
spray-painted anti-foie-gras graffiti on virtually every new appliance
and flooded the building, forcing a neighboring business to close for
Manrique's Mill Valley house also was targeted. Vandals spray-painted
messages such as "murderer" and poured acid on his car, and they left a
threatening videotape of Manrique's family filmed through the window
of his home, warning that he was being watched.
Police have estimated the damage from all the attacks at more than
Next week, a scientist who specializes in foie gras production will fly
in from France to evaluate the farm, looking at how the ducks are
housed, fed and slaughtered, Jaubert said.
Meanwhile, Manrique says he is scrambling to control a nightmare that
seems to keep getting worse.
The opening of the store has been delayed more than two months, and he
is desperate to protect Aqua, the premier downtown San Francisco
restaurant where he is the chef -- especially in light of increasing
national media attention regarding the way foie gras is made. "I
really wanted to remove Aqua from the whole thing," said Manrique, who
fears that the restaurant's reputation could be hurt or, worse, that
the restaurant itself could become a target of vandalism.
Although Aqua serves foie gras from the Sonoma Foie Gras farm, the
businesses are separate -- a point Manrique says he will continue to
emphasize during media interviews. He also has stopped using Aqua's
public relations office to handle media calls related to the foie gras
operation. Sonoma Saveurs has hired Bay Area public relations man Sam
Singer, whose clients include John and Denise DeBartolo York, owners
of the San Francisco 49ers.
Manrique and his partners originally planned to use the ducks they
raise at their Central Valley farm to make foie gras terrines, duck
burgers and grilled duck ribs to sell at the Sonoma shop and
restaurant. The farm already provides the liver to several top-notch
Bay Area restaurants.
Now, Jaubert says, the attacks and the subsequent publicity have pushed
the store's opening date back to mid-October, and the venture's focus
has shifted from foie gras and related products to other gourmet food
And the partners have scrapped their logo, which had depicted a smiling
Ducks and geese naturally gorge themselves to make their livers fatty
enough to sustain them through migration, but to make foie gras, the
birds are force-fed during the last weeks of their lives to fatten
their livers. At the two foie gras operations in the United States and
several in France, metal tubes are inserted down their throats, and
grain is pneumatically shot into their bellies.
In the weeks after the August attacks, animal-rights groups sent The
Chronicle and other media video and print images purported to be from
the Sonoma Foie Gras farm near Stockton. The images, supposedly shot
by undercover activists, show injured ducks with blood on their
feathers, ducks being attacked by rats and listless birds in cages,
their beaks stuffed with regurgitated corn.
Jaubert, whose Santa Rosa home also was attacked in August, says
animal- rights extremists broke into the farm earlier this month and
stole four ducks. Gourmet Cruelty, a Washington-based group, claimed
responsibility and outlined the theft on its Web site. Jaubert says he
doubts that all the video images were really taken at his farm.
Manrique and Jaubert say they remain committed to a product they say is
part of their cultural tradition and defend themselves against the
"Basically, the big picture is these people are vegetarian who want no
one to eat an animal," Jaubert said. "Foie gras is the first step
because it is the weakest link."
E-mail Kim Severson at kseverson at sfchronicle.com .
©2003 San Francisco Chronicle |Feedback
Page A - 14
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Size: 5765 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://lists.envirolink.org/pipermail/ar-news/attachments/20030927/99098bc9/attachment.bin
More information about the AR-News