I got a call today from a former classmate of mine who’s currently working at a restaurant in Philadelphia.
I asked him if he had any contact with the protesters fighting the Foie Gras Battle Royal. He chuckled and said .."you know when I first saw those Hugs For Puppies *Expletive Deleted* I thought, hey cute name.. now all I want to do is (mess) with them."
I took that as a yes.
Luckily the restaurant he works at has gone relatively unscathed, say for a few sidewalk protests.
The conversation took an amusing turn when he mentioned some of the crafty ways Chefs are both passively and actively fighting back.
During one protest in the city one chef was kind enough to send the busy protesters some complimentary hor'dorves during dinner service, complete with server and silver tray.
Another neat thing allot of the cooks of these establishments have been doing is "Infiltrating" ( I won’t tell you how because I don’t want to be responsible for the system getting screwed up..ever seen 50 angry cooks? not pretty) the organizations that protest and tracking their protests to stay a foot ahead.
One story that really amused me and strengthens the point I have previously made about the reason why the Foie Fight is such a tough one for chefs. The uninformed public in general has no idea what Foie Gras really is, how it’s farmed, and what the details are. Along comes PETA and Pals and suddenly we find ourselves staring down angry customers..why? because PETA and Pals tell them all the "Horrible and Inhuman" things we do to get Foie Gras. The uninformed are being led to believe in half truths and allot of times lies.
So how do you counter act it? well my friend explained to me they had a very long term customer call and demanded to speak with someone in the kitchen. The Sous Chef took the call only to hear "...If you continue to serve Foie Gras I will no longer be returning my business to your restaurant."
After an apparent 30 minute phone conversation the Sous chef explained the process of making Foie Gras, the fact he had personally visited the location where they buy the Foie to ensure no cruelty, and other interesting Foie facts.. to which the customer replied "oh, I had no idea.. I look forward to my next meal in your restaurant".
Sometimes it just takes a little talking to work through your differences...
Hugs for Puppies, how bout a hug for a chef?