California Foie Gras Ban Looms: Loopholes, Leniency Give Chefs Hope

The 2008 repeal of Chicago's foie gras ban was a pretty good indication of how much Americans like being told what they can cook, sell and eat. Now, with California's ban officially beginning on July 1st, California's chefs, foie gras purveyors and those Californians who enjoy the rich product are already digging through the rulebook for loopholes. A little more surprisingly, the LAPD is too.

Officer Karen Rayner, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department told Bloomberg in an excellent piece on the subject, "This is not a crime that would be investigated by the LAPD or likely any other municipal police department." The penalty for violation of the ban is a $1000 fine, but it appears that the LAPD hasn't announced any plans to implement this legislation any time soon.

As if they needed help to be emboldened, California's foie-loving chefs have already begun announcing plans to subvert this ban by giving out "complimentary foie gras" (probably with very expensive brioche toasts) and offering to cook legally-obtained foie gras brought into the restaurant by customers (we are sorry to tell you they're referring to this as a "foie-kage fee").

"If I don’t charge for it, it’s not a crime," French chef Ludo Lefebvre told Bloomberg. "And so I'm going to do it."

California chefs have been selling foie gras at such an accelerated rate, they can barely keep up, both because of consumer demand and because of their decadent tasting menus celebrating the ingredient. We always knew that the days leading up to the official start of the ban would be a foie-for-all (sorry), but even we didn't expect such an overwhelming flood of foie gras tasting menus. In addition to chef Roland Passot's $175 "Au Revoir, Not Adieu" tasting menu at restaurant La Folie, restaurants and purveyors all over San Francisco threw "goodbye to foie gras" parties.

One of the people whose livelihood is most tied to the ban, Guillermo Gonzalez of Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras (the state's only foie gras producing farm), said in an interview with The Blaze, "We have had steady growth in demand… with a significant increase in sales in the month of May.”

As chef Ludo Lefebvre suggests in his farewell message below, the pervading sentiment amongst the opposition to the ban seems to be "goodbye... for now."