The Eat Sheet: California's July 1 Foie Gras Ban Prompts Advocacy, Controversy Among Hollywood's Favorite Chefs

Chef Wolfgang Puck 2010
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HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 09:  Chef Wolfgang Puck displays a Dover Sole entree at the 83rd Academy Awards Governors Ball preview on February 9, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.

Wolfgang Puck, "Top Chef" winner Michael Voltaggio and "Ludo Bites America" star Ludovic Lefebvre are just a few of the L.A. toques who have become embroiled in the fatty dispute.

In 2007, Wolfgang Puck announced that he was dropping foie gras from his restaurant empire’s menus, and on February 10 of this year he wrote an open letter, addressed in part to his fellow chefs, asking them to embrace S.B. 1520, a California state law set to go into effect on July 1 banning the sale of the fatty duck liver. However, it was recently revealed that Puck’s company had continued to covertly offer foie gras to customers of its catering division that specifically requested it, and even listed it on the menu of the CUT steakhouse in Singapore.

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“We do, unfortunately, have private events where people want foie gras on their menu,” Stephanie Davis, Puck’s spokeswoman, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We do our best to steer them in a different direction, but sometimes people just want it.”

Meanwhile, an upstart group of 100 chefs have chartered C.H.E.F.S., the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards, to fight the measure, both in the press and in kitchens up and down the state, with sold-out group dinners involving the media-savvy likes of “Top Chef” victor Michael Voltaggio (now of Ink), “The Next Iron Chef” contestant Chris Cosentino (PIGG at Umamicatessen), “Ludo Bites America” star Ludovic Lefebvre (the roving Ludo Bites) and former “Two Dudes Catering” pair Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (Animal). Others on the list include Food Network stalwart Tyler Florence, plus industry-beloved L.A. toques Michael Cimarusti of Providence and Sang Yoon of Father’s Office and Lukshon.

Voltaggio, Lefebvre and Dotolo will join Roland Passot, who runs La Folie in San Francisco, for a six-course C.H.E.F.S. foie gras dinner at Animal on Monday, May 14, which costs $200 per person. Related six-course meals—also featuring teams of high-profile toques—will be held in support of the organization on the same evening elsewhere around town at Melisse, Lemon Moon and The Royce at The Langham.