Mark Pastore, owner of S.F.’s Incanto and a vocal opponent of the impending California ban on foie gras, wrote an op-ed that appears in today’s Chronicle condemning former state senator John Burton’s “violent rhetoric” against the 100 chefs and restaurateurs who signed a recent petition to overturn the ban. (Burton said last week he’d like to sit the chefs down and have dry oatmeal “shoved down their throats over and over and over again.”) Pastore makes the point that in 2003, just prior to the foie gras legislation being passed, a group of animal-rights extremists vandalized the home of then San Francisco chef Laurent Manrique and threatened him and his family. “Sadly,” Pastore writes, “not everyone understands the line between rhetoric and action. Gay bashing, abortion clinic bombings, and the murder of doctors who perform abortions have all been preceded by use of violent rhetoric intended to dehumanize the target.” Furthermore, he wrote in to Grub Street to point out that Wolfgang Puck’s hypocrisy about foie gras extends stateside — he had foie gras on the menu at Chinois in L.A. as recently as February, which is the same month he issued that letter to fellow chefs in support of the ban.
Pastore says, “Look at the past year’s Yelp reviews for Chinois in Santa Monica,” and indeed we did, and found this photo from late February showing a seared foie gras dish. Also, Pastore points out that California will be the only place in the world that will have a ban on the sale of foie gras — Puck had cited Israel and several European countries, however none of those bans actually include sales, only production, and you can still readily find foie in Israel. Also none of the European nations that banned production had extant foie gras farms anyway.
As for Burton, Pastore writes that he owes the chefs an “unqualified public apology.” “We create jobs, stimulate tourism, pay taxes, and vote in every part of California,” he argues, but that still probably won’t sway the legislature to take time out for an emergency bill before July. As the senate recently said, they’ve got “higher priorities.”