To Foie Gras Or Not to Foie Gras??

Posted on 09/28/07 in News, Past Events, 9 Comments

So that’s the question.

Although the overfeeding of geese with intent to fatten has been going on for about 5,000 years, something strange has happened in the City of Chicago, a city known for modernizing and industrializing the stocking and slaughtering of hogs and cattle. It was in Chicago that Upton Sinclair discovered the inspiration for his novel, The Jungle, where he shocked the public with the reality of the meatpacking industry.

So why would a city that was essentially built on the business of killing animals for food be the first city in the world to outlaw everyone’s favorite fatty goose liver?

Good Question.

As you all may know, the Chicago City Council approved a ban on Foie Gras with a 48 to 1 vote back in 2006. I hadn’t eaten Foie Gras when I found out about the ban last fall when it was all over the news. Yes, I am a big foodie and a chef, but I always thought that Foie Gras was one of those unreachable foods like Russian Beluga Caviar or Fugu (that Japanese PufferFish dish that can kill you). But then I started seeing it on the menu when I would dine out in San Francisco. Later, a fellow underground chef used it in one of his dinners.

So all of a sudden, Foie Gras, wasn’t so unreachable anymore! I tasted it an underground dinner, and WOW, I REALLY liked it. So I made a mental note to google it when I got home and that’s when I discovered Foie Gras’ dirty little secret. It is basically created by sticking a tube or pipe down the goose’s throat and hardcore force feeding it 4 times a day for 2 weeks. This causes the liver to enlarge, with fat, 10 times its normal size. Okay, that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Does this manipulation of the goose make eating foie gras an irresponsible and insensitive act? So if we shouldn’t eat Foie Gras, then should we stop eating veal and suckling pig too? And what about beef and chicken? I mean, don’t we hurry and fatten up cows and chickens to yield more meat in less time?
Ultimately, the whole animal slaughter business is hard to swallow. Even the biggest lovers of all things meat would cringe and perhaps even faint at the sight of a slaughtering. I once heard of a BBQ pit master that scoffed at the idea of a slaughter dinner, all the while throwing briskets and ribs into the smoker.

So you see, this issue raises a whole slurry of questions.

I consider myself a very responsible, sensitive, and socially conscious individual. I’m the guy that brings canvas bags to the market, gets on everybody’s case about recycling, and saves up for a biodiesel car. I eat cage-free egg omelets and I even like cats, a lot. But I also like the Foie Gras and I appreciate the right to eat it and especially to serve it.

On October 14th, 2007, we hosted an illegal Foix Grax Dinner Party on the South Side of Chicago.

See those Images HERE.


  1. JuchH

    Chef – I’m a budding foodie & a fan of foie gras. While the method and practice of force feeding a duck is unnerving, I have to admit. . . .I love myself some fois gras!
    I really wish I could make it to the dinner. If I can come up with the $$ for 2 I am there! See you at the BBQ!

    Posted 10-1-2007 , Reply

  2. chEfrain

    The Foix Grax dinner will definitely be worth it. Hope you can make it!

    Posted 10-1-2007 , Reply

  3. Beth

    Just back from Paris, where I had fois gras a few times in the span of a week. I also brought some home with me. I am an avid supporter of revoking the ban in Chicago. Last January I attended a fundraiser in support of fois gras, and I wrote about it here:

    Good luck with the dinner!

    Posted 10-2-2007 , Reply

  4. eric b

    the only reason i like fois gras is the force feeding the duck part.

    Posted 10-2-2007 , Reply

  5. Esca

    I’ve only had foie gras a couple of times, but each time I’ve had it…it was delicious. Sorry Donald. The one time it was in a hot dog, from Hot Dougs. It was actually very good. The second time it was pan seared with finely chopped carmalized hudson valley apples. Melted in my mouth. Wouldn’t mind being force fed either meal.

    Posted 10-11-2007 , Reply

  6. Esca

    An article you might want to check out:

    Posted 10-13-2007 , Reply

  7. Heidi L.

    This is a damn shame! Underground supperclub alright! You can’t even contact this 24 Below restaurant unless it is via email, so no one can call this restaurant to voice their disgust, you can barely find the place either!
    Shady, shady stuff going on here, in reading over this website, everything is a damn shame here! Well, have fun eating your diseased fatty liver, uninterrupted! I will never patronize this restaurant.
    Meanwhile, here is some information to learn more!

    Posted 10-14-2007 , Reply

  8. kerry

    heidi… there is no restaurant… it’s a traveling dinner party for people who are like-minded and passionate about the experience of dining. love your conviction, but perhaps you can open yourself up to the thought that others are allowed their own opinions just like you, and don’t deserve your disdain. don’t you think your love and appreciation for all animals should include the human animal?

    Posted 10-24-2007 , Reply

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