“Duckeasies” Sprout Up, Defying Foie Gras Ban

California’s July 1 ban on the sale and production of foie gras is having the unintended consequence of creating an underground culture of “duckeasies.”

As Care2 blogger Alicia Graef has written, Ray Tang, the owner of the Presidio Social Club, is arguing that he has the legal right to serve the fatted duck liver because his restaurant is located on a national park, on federal land. Evan Lee, a professor at UC Hasting’s College of Law, has said that the matter occupies a “gray area” that would most likely be decided in federal courts.

Other chefs are seeking to work their way around the law by hosting secret events, serving foie gras as a free side dish or selling it to “those in the know” while not listing it on the menu, says Bloomberg. Now that foie gras is forbidden fruit, some are taking pleasure in not only serving it up “under wraps” but seeking out how to eat something illegal.

Through an online notice at a “Duckeasy,” a group gathered for a “private event” at a San Francisco restaurant to eat Wonder bread, grape jelly and foie gras mousse. Said Daniel Rieken of San Francisco, “I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a certain exclusivity that is cool and a defiance against a law that we think is rooted in double standards.”

San Clemente’s Cafe Mimosa serves foie gras to those who request “fancy bread.” At Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach, foie gras is offered as a “complimentary” side with “The Burger,” which, at $13, costs twice as much as the other burgers. Hot’s Kitchen’s chef, Sean Chaney, says that there is something “fundamentally wrong” to be living in a “state where [he] can buy marijuana down the street, but [he can’t buy foie gras.” Chaney also noted that law enforcement has not tried to stop him and other restauranteurs in Los Angeles note the same.

In addition, private chefs see the ban as a “boon.” One Los Angeles business, Haute Chefs, charges $125 to $350 to prepare French cuisine in people’s home. Owner Jeff Nimer says that demand is up:  “It’s just like Prohibition. The more you say it’s not allowed, the more people are going to want it.”

True. But one has to wonder, given all the things you can eat, are all these efforts to sneak around and have your foie gras too really worth it?

Dana Portnoy, a Bay Area campaign organizer for the Animal Protection and Rescue League, says that the ban is working. Restaurants are complying and it’s inevitable that some people will try to get around a law.

The “Duckeasies” and the other clandestine venues by which chefs are serving up foie gras suggest that the law’s penalties (a fine of $1,000 for each infraction and more fines of the same amount for each day such continue) may not strong be enough. If authorities do not make more efforts to enforce the foie gras ban, has the law — pardon the expression — lots some of its bite?

Related Care2 Coverage

Restaurant Defies Foie Gras Ban in San Francisco

Angry Chefs Block California Foie Gras Ban

Lawsuit Seeks Foie Gras Ban in U.S.


Photo by Daquella manera


Sandy Williams
Sandra Williams5 years ago

Buying marijuana down the street is very different than buying something that involves extreme animal cruelty!!! Maybe these chef's need an example themselves!!!!

TRUDY NICKOLS6 years ago


Amelia Coates
Amelia Coates6 years ago

Eating diseased liver!!! If they called it that instead of foie gras would you want to? That's putting aside what the ducks and geese have to endure before it is diseased enough to be "good!" Start calling food by it's actual name and I bet it wouldn't be long at all before we're all vegetarians!!! Look at the turn off SPAM endures and actually all it is is spiced ground ham.

Nigel G.
Nigel G6 years ago

It is only like drugs, there will always be the moral-lacking lowlife who will do whatever it takes to continue their unacceptable activity and ignoring the law. No law has ever been fully complied with but maintaining the ban on foie gras leaves no uncertainty as to its illegitimate supply. The horrendous cruelty in producing foie gras has to mean an outright ban on its sale!

Valentina R.
Valentina R6 years ago

Ban foie gras now!

Zayda Koekemoer
Zayda Koekemoer6 years ago

To the the forcefed duck eaters. This is actually what you eat.

The liver is a digestive and exocrine glandular organ that produces bile to break down the fats. It filters out all of the toxins that is consumed and put into your body

But an animal has to be tortured for you to do so. To all the chefs who is cashing in as mentioned in the article.You are disgusting.

Beverly G.
bev g6 years ago

sad, so sad and heartbreaking

Sheri D.
Sheri D6 years ago

This is just disgusting!!! The only way to stop the restaurants from selling this is for the people to stop eating it!!!

Christine Stewart
Christine S6 years ago

Bunch of twisted freaks! Foie gras has been banned because the citizens of California do not want ducks to have tubes SHOVED down their throats and force fed corn mush until their livers are diseased with clogged fat! We are against the cruelty of the whole process behind foie gras! Don't compare it to "medical" marijuana or alcohol- if you must compare it to something illegal, how about to buying clothes made by little kids in sweat shops? Would the same people buying illegal foie gras also buy knockoff designer clothes or gold jewelry made by child slave labor? Oh, yeah, they probably would!!!

Ron S.
Ron S6 years ago

Hot’s Kitchen is located just blocks south of the Hermosa Beach pier at 844 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254 and is open Monday – Sunday, 11am-10pm. For more information visit http://www.hotskitchen.com. - Maybe we can get enough people to show up for this event to oh, I don't know, maybe take photos of those that show up -get the local news to cover the "party" so the force feed duck eaters can get their face on TV. I love to see who they are myself.