Culinary

Foie Gras and Hypocrisy on California's Menus

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FedeleBauccio Become a fan

CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company

It's only mid-January and we've got our first food controversy. California's fooderati are cheering both the uncaging of laying hens and the force-feeding of ducks as if there's no contradiction in supporting the two.

On January 1, a new law went into effect in California that has been universally celebrated by people who care where their food comes from and how it was raised. The law requires that all shell eggs sold in my home state have to come from farms that comply with voter-passed Proposition 2's animal-welfare standard, which essentially bans battery cages for California's 15 million egg-laying hens -- as well as for countless others belonging to companies that want to sell eggs here. Stacked several feet high, these cages pack chickens wing-to-wing, requiring each bird to spend her entire life on less space than a sheet of paper. When I saw them firsthand as a member of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, the sight and the stench were horrifying.

Just a week later, though, a federal judge overturned the 2012 California law banning the sale of foiegras, the fatty liver of force-fed ducks or geese. That news was followed by a celebration of a different sort: chefs in the Bay Area and Los Angeles -- some very well-known -- taking to Twitter and the airwaves to rejoice that they could put foiegras back on their menus. Some bragged that they had never taken it off.

This contradiction puzzles me. Actually, it makes me furious. Just because something happens to be delicious should not mean that it gets a pass when it comes to ethics.

As the founder and CEO of a food service company that employs hundreds of chefs and serves 200 million meals per year, I believe those of us who are in a position to drive food trends through our influence and purchasing have a responsibility to be consistent in our values, so that we can help consumers be.

 

Surveys show that consumers don't like thinking the animals they choose to eat spent their entire lives suffering. When polled, the vast majority state that humane animal treatment is important to them. This is not a trend confined to California, or a new one. An Oklahoma State University national study in 2007 found that 95% of consumers believe that "It is important that farm animals are well cared for." In an April 2014 poll (PDF) by Consumer Reports, 80 percent of respondents said that better living conditions for farm animals were important or very important to them.

 

Foiegras is an expensive delicacy that few people have ever even tried. I am pretty sure the epicureans celebrating the return of force-fed goose and duck liver are the same ones asking if their eggs are pasture-raised and their beef grass-finished. Those who would defend foiegras say that ducks and geese will gorge themselves naturally -- force feeding only extends that habit. I've heard feedlot operators argue the same thing about hormone-dosed cattle eating grains to the point of obesity. Others argue that foiegras is such a tiny industry, we shouldn't make a big deal out of it and concentrate instead on the nation's 44 million hogs, 12.6 billion cattle, and 3.5 billion broiler chickens.

 

We can -- and should -- do both. The bottom line is that foiegras comes from abused animals. Pretending otherwise is just a fantasy.

 

My company switched to cage-free shell eggs in 2005, banned foiegras (and veal from crated calves) in 2012, and has committed to switching to pork raised without the cruel practice of gestation crates by the end of this year. We're far from perfect, but we are trying hard to educate our guests and encourage an increased supply of humanely raised meat and eggs.

 

Chefs can drive supply and demand -- and they can turn it off if they try. Remember Chilean sea bass, that mild, flaky white fish that was hard to overcook and that Americans loved almost to extinction? Chefs led the way in weaning their guests from it so the fisheries could recover, by offering alternative fish they might not have been exposed to.

 

Paté doesn't have to come from force-fed ducks or geese. There's nothing wrong with liver itself: eating organ meats is part of many cultures, including my Italian family's, and part of a sustainable meat industry.

 

I challenge chefs and other culinary taste-makers to resist serving foiegras even if the law now permits it. Let's help consumers be consistent with their ethics even if means forgoing something far more delicious than battery-cage eggs

 

 

 

Chicken Paillard w/Mushrooms

Chicken Paillard with Mushrooms And Cognac 

 

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 lb white or cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 oz Cognac
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock (real stock, not broth)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

 

Directions

  • Butterfly the chicken breasts (hold the chicken breast down with the heel of your hand and carefully slice it -- the chicken breast, not your hand -- nearly in half; then sort of unfold it as if you were opening a book)
  • Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the butterflied chicken breast and pound it with a mallet until it is about 1/4 inch thick
  • Season the flattened, butterflied chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  • Add 1/2 Tbsp butter to a sauté pan and heat until foaming subsides.
  • Sauté each chicken breast until it is just turning brown (about 1 or 2 minutes) -- don't overdo it, since they will go back into the pan later to finish cooking. And don't crowd them in the pan -- if you have to brown them in batches, no problem.
  • Keep the chicken breasts warm as you prepare the sauce.
  • In the same pan, add the shallots and cook for a minute (you may need to add another Tbsp of butter).
  • Add the cleaned, sliced mushrooms and cook until they are lightly browned.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the Cognac. DON'T do this while the pan is still over the heat -- definitely not a good idea.
  • Return the pan to the heat and let the alcohol cook off.
  • Add the white wine to the pan and continue cooking over moderate heat until the liquid reduces by at least one-half.
  • Whisk in the mustard and cook for one minute.
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer -- cook until the liquid reduces and starts to thicken.
  • If any juices have accumulated around the chicken you are keeping warm, pour these juices into the pan.
  • Add the cream and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • When the sauce reaches the degree of thickness you like, lower the heat and add the chicken.
  • Bring the pan up to temperature and serve, garnishing just before serving with chopped chives.

ACF National Convention a Success

ACF National Convention a Success

The 2013 ACF National Convention was a success with more than 1,500 chefs, cooks, students and foodservice professionals attending the annual event at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, July 21-25. Hosted by ACF Chefs Las Vegas, the convention provided attendees with opportunities to advance their professional development and enhance their culinary skills. Some of this year's presenters included Ming Tsai, chef/owner of Blue Ginger, Wellesley, Mass.; Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, chefs/owners of Los Angeles-based Border Grill restaurants and Border Grill Truck; Rick Moonen, chef/owner of Rick Moonen's rm seafood, Las Vegas; and Farmer Lee Jones, owner of The Chef's Garden, Huron, Ohio. More

A sincere thank-you to our sponsors and exhibitors whose support was instrumental to our success. Congratulations to all the competition winners and award recipients and honorees for their outstanding contributions and for a job well done.

Below are the 2013 ACF award winners and honorees:

U.S.A.'s Chef of the Year™, sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions
Eddie Tancredi, CEC, corporate chef, Cleveland Restaurant Group, Cleveland; ACF Cleveland Chapter Inc.

ACF Pastry Chef of the Year, sponsored by Plugra® European-Style Butter
Alison Murphy, pastry chef, The Vintage Club, Indian Wells, Calif.; ACF national member

Chef Educator of the Year
Leslie Eckert, CWPC, CCE, MBA, culinary-arts instructor, The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Tampa, Tampa, Fla.; ACF Tampa Bay Culinary Association, Inc.

Student Chef of the Year, sponsored by Custom Culinary, Inc.
Jaclyn Adamonis, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Ill.; ACF Louis Joliet Chapter

Chef Professionalism Award, sponsored by MINOR'S®
James Connolly, CEC, CCA, AAC, divisional director of culinary services for New England, Atria Senior Living Group, Louisville, Ky.; ACF Epicurean Club of Boston

Hermann G. Rusch Chef's Achievement Award
Klaus Friedenreich, CMC, AAC, chef-instructor, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Orlando, Fla.; ACF Central Florida Chapter

Student Team National Championship, sponsored by R.L. Schreiber, Inc.
Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Ill.; ACF Louis Joliet Chapter; Timothy Baran, Jacob Bernard, Joseph Biskie, Vince Cassidy and Amy Gutierrez; Timothy Bucci, CEC, CCE, CHE, coach

Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl, sponsored by American Technical Publishers
Westmoreland County Community College, Youngwood, Pa.; Nicole Cervone, Christina Crouse, Tonia Eisaman, Ryan Moore and Courtney Nalevanko; Carol Baier, CC, coach

ACF National Championship Collegiate Dining Challenge
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.; Charu Chandra Pant, CEC, ACE, test kitchen chef, and Greg Larson, CEC, unit chef, North Dining Hall

Flavors of the Mediterranean-A Minute® Rice Competition, Sponsored by Riviana® Foods
Cyril Ortigosa-Liaz, third cook, Yale University Catering, New Haven, Conn.; Connecticut Chefs Association

ACF Humanitarian Award
Rick Moonen, chef/owner, Rick Moonen's rm seafood, Las Vegas

ACF Immediate Past President's Award
Mary "Betsy" LaSorella, CEPC, pastry chef-instructor, Midwest Culinary Institute, Cincinnati; Midwest Culinary Institute Faculty Chapter

ACF Industry Partnership Award
NEWCHEF Fashion Inc., Los Angeles

ACF Communicator of the Year
Joseph Gonzales, retired, Beaverton, Ore.; ACF Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon

ACF National Chapter of the Year
ACF Philadelphia Delaware Valley Chefs Association, Philadelphia

ACF Region of the Year
ACF Central Region

ACF Heroes Award Recipients

  • Americo DiFronzo, CEC, CCA, AAC, executive chef, Union Oyster House, Boston; ACF Epicurean Club of Boston
  • Lynn Krause, CEPC, AAC, chef, St. Louis; Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis Inc.
  • Jill Mora, professor, College of Southern Nevada, North Las Vegas, Nev. ACF Leadership Award Steve Jilleba, CMC, CCE, AAC, corporate executive chef, Unilever Food Solutions, Lisle, Ill. ACF President's Medallion Recipients
  • Joseph Amabile, CCC, culinary-arts teacher, Newark Public Schools, Newark, N.J.; ACF Northern New Jersey Chapter
  • Gerald Bolton, executive chef, The Oncenter, Syracuse, N.Y.; ACF Syracuse New York Chapter
  • Mark Brown, CEC, CCA, executive chef, The Sanctuary Golf Club, Sanibel Island, Fla.; The Southwest Florida Chapter of the ACF
  • Christopher Koetke, CEC, CCE, MBA, HAAC, vice president, school of culinary arts, Kendall College, Chicago; ACF Windy City Professional Culinarians Inc.
  • Joseph Leonardi, CEC, executive chef, Somerset Club, Boston; ACF Rhode Island Chapter
  • Hubert Schmieder, AAC, retired, Lafayette, Ind.; ACF Greater Indianapolis Chapter
  • Tene Shake, owner, Tene Shake Signature Restaurants, Monterey, Calif., ACF Monterey Bay Chapter
  • George Sideras, CEC, corporate executive chef, Nestle Professional, Solon, Ohio; ACF Greater Dayton Chapter

Cutting Edge Award Recipients

  • Claude Buzon, HAAC, owner, Chef's Hat Inc., Edmonton, Alberta
  • Salvatore Campagna, CEC, HAAC, retired, San Carlos, Calif.; ACF San Francisco Chapter
  • Ronald DeSantis, CMC, AAC, MBA, director of culinary excellence, Yale Dining at Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Mid Hudson Culinary Association
  • Joseph Hardiman, HAAC, president, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Orlando, Fla.; ACF Central Florida Chapter
  • Mary Louise Huebner, HAAC, marketing director/vice president, and Peter Huebner, HAAC, president, Canada Cutlery, Inc., Pickering, Ontario; ACF of Greater Buffalo New York
  • Farmer Lee Jones, owner, The Chef's Garden, Huron, Ohio
  • Donald Miller, CEC, CCE, AAC, executive chef, University of Notre Dame Food Services, Notre Dame, Ind.; ACF South Bend Chefs and Cooks Association
  • Ming Tsai, executive chef/owner, Blue Ginger, Wellesley, Mass.

ACF Achievement of Excellence Awards

  • The Bears' Steakhouse; Duanesburg, N.Y.
  • Chop Stix Restaurant; Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Detroit Athletic Club; Detroit
  • Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse; Chicago
  • Le Coq Au Vin; Orlando, Fla.
  • Old Town Club; Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Orchids at Palm Court; Cincinnati
  • Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks; South Portland, Maine
  • Spiedini Ristorante; Las Vegas
  • Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar; Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Todd's Unique Dining; Henderson, Nev.

World of Thanks Award
ACF Chefs Las Vegas

Chef & Child Foundation Awards

True Spirit Award
Jacob Williams, CEC, ACF Michigan Chefs de Cuisine  

Holiday Menu Ideas

  • Valentines Day
  • St Patricks Day
  • Easter
  • Passover
  • Mothers Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Fathers Day
  • 4th of July
  • Labor Day
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Hannukah
  • Christmas
  • New Years Eve  

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