A ban on the sale and production of foie gras, created by force-feeding birds, was enacted on July 1 in California, but one San Francisco restaurant is claiming an exemption to serve it and may legally be able to do so.
The Presidio Social Club’s owner Ray Tang announced this week that his club would be serving foie gras this weekend, arguing that since his restaurant is on federal land, located on a national park, it’s exempt from the ban.
The announcement has gotten mixed reviews from both customers and legal experts. Some customers were eager to make a reservation, while others vowed not to return and experts can’t seem to agree on whether Tang should actually be able to serve the diseased liver.
A spokeswoman for the Presidio Trust, which oversees the land, said that the restaurant is not subject to the state’s new law, even though the Presidio Trust isn’t too impressed with the move.
“We are concerned that this action is inconsistent with the values that we promote in the Presidio – sustainability, respect for our environment, responsible stewardship. We will engage with the Presidio Social Club on these concerns,” said Craig Middleton, the trust’s executive director.
Evan Lee, a professor at UC Hasting’s College of Law, called it a ‘gray area’ and believes it’s a federal matter that would have to be settled in federal court if anyone brought a suit.
Other restaurants located on federal land are considering whether or not they will begin serving foie gras, but so far it doesn’t seem like any of them are that interested.
“It seems hard to imagine the park service taking kindly to people using their facilities to do things that violate state criminal laws. If you get pulled over for drunk driving in the Presidio, I don’t recommend relying on this chef’s questionable legal advice,” said Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C.
Still others are looking to make use of loopholes in the law by giving away foie gras. Chez TJ is offering ‘complementary’ foie gras for free as part of a $130 dollar tasting menu. However, it’s arguable that he’s not actually giving it away, since patrons will have to pay for what they’re getting.
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