Another legal challenge to a California restaurant trying to serve foie gras on the sly has arrived, and it involves La Toque in the Napa Valley. Chef Ken Frank was a vocal opponent of last year’s foie gras ban, and has continued, as some other chefs quietly have, serving foie gras to guests as a "gift from the chef." Frank says he can’t be paid for the privilege, and that the foie is served "spontaneously" but on a daily basis to certain guests, with a complimentary glass of Sauternes, as an act of protest. Now the Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed suit in Napa County Superior Court alleging that Frank is violating the law by "routinely" selling foie to customers.
Late last year, PETA announced it was suing L.A. restaurant Hot’s Kitchen for doing some similar foie gras gifting, and that case is headed for its first hearing on April 10.
This could get interesting since some similar foie gras gifting happened during the short-lived ban in Chicago in the middle of the last decade, and that ban was ultimately lifted.
Meanwhile, State Senator Lois Wolk previously said she might sponsor a bill during the current legislative session, however there’s been no movement on that as far as we’ve heard.
An early attempt to kill the ban by way of a preliminary court injunction was foiled by a federal judge in L.A. last fall, but a legal challenge to the ban continues to take shape.
For his part, Chef Frank says, that this lawsuit is just "further harassment" from the animal rights folk, and it’s baseless since "The law attempts to ban the sale and production of foie gras — I do neither." Also, he maintains, "I believe the foie gras I serve [from Hudson Valley Foie Gras] comes from ducks that are treated very well."
Restaurant sued over alleged foie gras ban violations [Napa Valley Register]
Related: PETA Still Sweating Hot’s Kitchen [Grub Street LA]
Foie Gras Ban a Boon for Nevada Restaurants, Businesses
Preliminary Injunction On Foie Gras Ban Foiled [Grub Street LA]