While the Windy City is famous for world-renown restaurants and high-class fare, you’ll have some difficult tracking down foie-gras on area menus. Hot Doug’s, one of Chicago’s popular hot dog and sausage eateries, underwent a ‘foie gras bust’ on February 16, 2007. The Chicago Tribune reports that Hot Doug’s became the first restaurant fined under the ordinance after the city-wide ban. The price? $250 for a first-time offense. Wolfgang Puck and other notable chefs had already stepped up to the plate and removed the item from their menus.
Foie gras had officially been banned in the city by Alderman Joe Moore in December; the movement was largely inspired by famous chef’s such as Charlie Trotter who deemed the practice of making foie gras unethical. Although Mayor Richard Daley is vetoing the effort, it still remains under consideration and the recent confiscation further spurs debates on the topic.
Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago opened in 1987 and has become one of the most well-respected restaurants in the world. When Mr. Trotter proclaimed that the production of foie gras, a duck-liver delicacy, encourages cruelty to animals during production, many chefs in the area staged a lengthy debate over the validity of this statement.
States across the nation have already passed similar bans; Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon have all instilled similar regulations that outlaw production, but it’s up to local lawmakers to make a difference at restaurants serving the product at their establishments. While hotspots such as Charlie Trotter’s choose not to serve this gourmet delight, the premium dish was served nightly at places such as Hot Doug’s.
Foie gras is a popular French delicacy, a rich and buttery addition to many a gourmand’s plate. It is traditionally served in a pate or mousse form, and makes use of a fattening technique known as gavage-it’s this artificial fattening process that seems questionable to animal welfare activists. Force feeding to fatten up the goose or duck through controlling the corn mash delivered to the animal’s esophagus has raised concern for many animal rights organizations. PETA and the Humane Society of the United States affirm that the process is inhumane treatment to animals.
Chicago’s famous chefs and restaurants are restructuring their menus in order to avoid confiscation, and controversy over the value of imported foie gras continues to be a concern for many animal activists around the nation. While some chefs proclaim that it is simply hypocritical to serve foie gras and maintain ethical business practices, others are appalled at the enforcement of a ban.