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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Foie Gras Protest Spurs Foie Gras Feast

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Jardiniere diners brush past protestors - ANIMAL PROTECTION & RESCUE LEAGUE
  • Animal Protection & Rescue League
  • Jardiniere diners brush past protestors
Did an anti-foie gras demonstration at Jardiniere backfire on protestors? A handful of animal-rights activists picketed the plush Hayes Valley restaurant Saturday night, demanding it permanently 86 foie gras from the menu. But according to Jardiniere general manager Greg Rowen, the demo actually spurred some diners to order the enlarged fatty duck livers in apparent sympathy with the restaurant.

Erin Evans, spokesperson for San Rafael-based In Defense of Animals (IDA), said 10 to 15 protestors showed up at Jardiniere, armed with signs and a roving video monitor showing secret footage of alleged abuse at a California foie gras facility. According to Evans, IDA targeted Jardiniere because chef-owner Traci des Jardins once expressed sympathy for the plight of foie gras ducks, and even temporarily removed the luxe item from the restaurant's menu. "She was actually an outspoken person and she kind of turned around," Evans said. In March, SF supervisors passed a symbolic resolution commending city eateries that pass on foie gras. A statewide ban takes effect in 2012.

Des Jardins was unavailable for comment. But Jardiniere manager Rowen told SFoodie that IDA and an affiliate group - San Diego-based Animal Protection & Rescue League - had been in contact with him for weeks, threatening to stage a protest unless he nixed foie gras. Rowen said he counted nine protestors at Saturday's demo. "They were all very nice," he said, though their efforts were apparently kind of a flop. "We sold more foie gras that night," he said, describing a party of eight who made their way through the protestors, sat down, and ordered eight foie gras terrines as appetizers.

"We leave it up to our guests to decide how they feel about foie gras," Rowen said. He confirmed that Des Jardins once banned the stuff. "The truth is it sort of burned her with her peers and chefs in the industry. It's such a part of fine dining," he said. "The Jardiniere guest by and large wants to see it on the menu."

Besides Jardiniere, IDA has focused on Incanto, the Noe Valley restaurant where chef Chris Cosentino is an advocate for offal in all its forms. Evans described Cosentino as a "lunatic," adding, "he's just on fire for foie gras."

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