The Chef Who Fought California’s Foie Gras Ban Has Gotten Death Threats

Hot's Kitchen's mason jar of foie.
Hot’s Kitchen’s mason jar of foie. Photo: hotskitchen/Instagram

After California’s foie gras ban was abruptly overturned a few days ago, the odds were pretty high of tensions flaring between people for and against the decision. Teams from PETA fanned out in protest, no surprise, albeit sometimes at places that didn’t actually serve any fatted-duck-liver pâté, but not everybody has registered their dissent so nonviolently: Hot’s Kitchen chef-owner Sean Chaney, one of the plaintiffs who successfully sued the state, says he has received at least a couple of death threats for his participation.

Two of these were posted as comments to Instagram posts (like the one pictured above), with messages like “I will find you and kill you I will stick a pipe in your god damn throat see how you like it” and “People will do this to you just wait.” Chaney has, in the interim, been serving an all-foie five-course menu since lunchtime on the day of the ban, which he opposed on grounds that it wasn’t the state’s place to decide whether or not the practice is animal cruelty. The judge agreed, although plenty of others don’t, especially not with Chaney’s suggestion to upset people: “Don’t buy it.” The FBI is apparently taking the threats seriously enough to investigate them, and he even had to interrupt an NPR interview to answer a call from agents wanting to “suss out the credibility” of one. Asked if it’s worth it, he says, “I think so, yeah. I’d do it again. I believe in the freedom of it.”


The Chef Who Fought California’s Foie Gras Ban Has Gotten Death Threats