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Trotter and Tramonto square off over Foie Gras


Osnav
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"I just said, `Enough is enough here. I can't really justify this,'" Trotter said. "What I have seen, it's just inappropriate. There are too many great things to eat out there that I don't believe that any animal would have to go through that for our benefit."

And that he chose to take this postion (abandoning his fellow craftsmen) at a time when a comrade (Laurent Manrique) was being terrorized by anti-foie activists is particularly loathsome.

He chose to take a personal stance when a fellow chef has been subjected to trauma several months ago(august 2003)? Is there like an acceptable waiting period?

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All of this is moot if in fact, Colgate actually "purchased a giant slice of foie gras terrine from Trotter's To Go a little less than two weeks ago," as he says he has. I have no reason to doubt him although it's hard to believe the press hasn't gotten a hold of this before. Trotter's a hypocrite because he's cooking and selling foie gras and moralizing about the reasons he's not cooking and selling it at the same time, or he's a hypocrite because he's lent his name to a take out shop with whose food he has no involvement at all.

I know there are many, and some here in this thread, who can easily separate that scare tactics, damage to property and threats of bodily harm to humans, that have come from the radical opponents of foie gras, from the moral issue they see in raising ducks or geese for foie gras. I can't so easily. Even if I could, I suspect I'd join Bourdain in expecting Trotter to take as great a stand against the threats to Manrique's family as he does to the alleged cruelty to poultry.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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There is absolutely no comparison to a muslim or a jew who--to support themselves--choose to handle pork as part of a daily job.

Why not? Are personal beliefs valid only when it is backed by religion?

Excuse me, but as I understand it, there is no morality involved in the avoidance of pork in the Jewish religion. It is simply a matter of contract between a Jew and his god that does not involve gentiles. Nevertheless, I do see a parallel. An observant Jew would not serve pork in his house, even to gentile friends.

I believe Bourdain's point was that Trotter did not serve foie gras recently to support himself, but to entertain and perhaps impress two friends in the industry. That many of us would assume this meal was comped (i.e. free of charge to the diners) just reinforces the fact that the meal was not in any way similar to what someone might do that was distasteful in order to support himself or his family.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Might also be time for chef T to delete a few web links: Turkey a la Trotter.

Sometimes it's fun to pair something clean, simple and straightforward, like turkey breast, with something rich and opulent, like foie gras and variety meats, to produce a stunning flavor contrast.

Fun? Not fun anymore. Evil!

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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trotter has been nothing but generous to me, but i find this foie business baffling, trotter's response reprehensible, and his remarks about rick unprofessional.  perhaps a rare brain disorder is the cause?

I find the whole reporting bizarre. I have the urge to express an opinion but I don't want to comment before I investigated the reporter's sources. I am googling Mark Caro and he has made some interesting comments about the purpose of adding a 'first name and a last name' under a 'slightly different context'. He guest blogged in Eric Zorn's(another CT reporter) journal.

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Excuse me, but as I understand it, there is no morality involved in the avoidance of pork in the Jewish religion.

Did I say that the Jewish religion advocates the avoidance of pork on the basis of morality?

It is about beliefs. Beliefs can be faith based(like religion) or value based. The nice thing about beliefs is that one can choose to adopt or discard them. There is necessity and then there is free choice. Sometimes, choice can be based upon necessity too. Sometimes, one chooses a certain path because..well..he can.

I believe Bourdain's point was that Trotter did not serve foie gras recently to support himself, but to entertain and perhaps impress two friends in the industry.

I dont know about the rest of that dinner's details. I would like to refrain from expressing my thoughts on that issue.

That many of us would assume this meal was comped (i.e. free of charge to the diners) just reinforces the fact that the meal was not in any way similar to what someone might do that was distasteful in order to support himself or his family.

Who is comping it?

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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derricks: When did you visit? Is it possible that the conditions were different before 2003. The evidence presented in court supposedly related to the time before 2003.

I visited twice in 2004. I strongly doubt SFG was using battery cages before that, but I can't speak to the rest of their conditions. Both Guillermo and Delmas suggested that the only major changes since SFG started were relocating to near Stockton and switching from Muscovies to Mulards. And other people I spoke with (George West at UC Davis) described pretty much the layout I've seen.

I think Gourmet Cruelty is more visible than the other groups because of the pictures on their website. I think some of those pictures are from a slaughterhouse near LA, but some of them are clearly marked Sonoma Foie. Until, Sonoma Farms come up with their own visual/photographic evidence of their 'spacious' duck dwellings, the impression that their ducks are being illtreated will not disappear.

I was wondering if you were allowed to take photographs. Surely, 25sq.ft (25x25 ft, right?) with 10-12 ducks wandering inside that space is a lot.

No, that's 25 sq. ft. in area (5 ft. x 5 ft.) I'd argue the ducks were cozy but not cramped. They could move around, but when they all clustered together (which they tend to do), they took up somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 the space.

I certainly got to take pictures on both trips. Mine aren't that good, but I'll ask my photographer if I can share the link to his lo-res pics. (and there are some in the article, but they don't necessarily give you a good impression of the pen size).

One thing to remember is that photographers visiting is fairly disruptive to their operation. The pens are separated by a corridor that fits the feeding machine and one person standing abreast. I think Delmas told me that they let in lots of people during 2004 (for obvious reasons) and it really fouled up their routines, so they want to limit visitors and get back to business.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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That many of us would assume this meal was comped (i.e. free of charge to the diners) just reinforces the fact that the meal was not in any way similar to what someone might do that was distasteful in order to support himself or his family.

Who is comping it?

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Can bourdain confirm this?

Chefs Tetsuya and Blumenthal cooked with Charlie Trotter for a fundraiser. On March 6th, I think, for the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation.

. Closest to his heart is the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation . Trotter hosts Chicago Public School  students for dinner several times a week, and also underwrites annual fund raising dinners for the foundation.

And from Charlie Trotter's website:

From time to time, we host fund-raising dinners at the restaurant to support The Culinary Education Foundation. Charlie Trotter’s restaurant donates the man-power and works with purveyors to reduce the costs for these dinners, which allows almost 100% of the money raised to go directly towards scholarships. We award scholarships to several different students each spring. The scholarship can be used both toward tuition and room and board.

edited to add: egullet calender confirms the above info. Charlie Trotters, the restaurant, underwrites the fundraiser by hosting it and by providing manpower etc, as the snippet from the website says..next step, Who chose the foie gras in the menu? Who cooked this foie gras dish? Where was it sourced from?

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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i'm curious to know the details of the (presumably) comped dinner.

i suppose there is room for hypocracy (sp), but there seems also room at this point for details that would shape the analysis.

e.g., from where did the fg come? was it a gift given to trotter that he shared with the other two, rather than let it go to waste?

re purchasing fg-to-go...this seems more clear, but i would also like more details. i think it's possible that trotter might not be aware that this is happening (i would +hope+ that he would take pains to ensure that it does not, given his stance). but other questions come to mind...are they getting rid of existing stocks? is the to-go company under enough of his control (as opposed to business partners) that he can ban that item?

i'd like to know more.

also, i'd agree with those that opine that this exchange between the two seems to be about more than liver.

cheers :)

hc

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. . .

re purchasing fg-to-go...this seems more clear, but i would also like more details.  i think it's possible that trotter might not be aware that this is happening (i would +hope+ that he would take pains to ensure that it does not, given his stance).  but other questions come to mind...are they getting rid of existing stocks?  is the to-go company under enough of his control (as opposed to business partners) that he can ban that item?

You almost make it sound as if there's no hypocrisy involved in a famous chef lending his name to a shop seeling food whose preparation he neither contols or supervises. The suggestion that its stock of foie gras dates back as far as his decision to no longer trade in foie gras, seems almost slanderous. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Excuse me, but as I understand it, there is no morality involved in the avoidance of pork in the Jewish religion.

Did I say that the Jewish religion advocates the avoidance of pork on the basis of morality?

It is about beliefs. Beliefs can be faith based(like religion) or value based. The nice thing about beliefs is that one can choose to adopt or discard them. There is necessity and then there is free choice. Sometimes, choice can be based upon necessity too. Sometimes, one chooses a certain path because..well..he can.

I'm sorry, you made a comparison to a situation where morality was at the heart of the issue. You're on a slippery slope here because I believe you are dealing with beliefs I believe don't exist in the Jewish religion and then interpreting them to make some sort of comparison I don't believe can be made. We reach common ground if you're insinuating Trotter can conveniently adopt or discard his beliefs at will.

The heart of this matter is that Trotter made some highly unprofessional remarks that were reported in the Chicago Tribune. It's not a local paper of a small community. If those remarkds were not made by Trotter, we'll hear about it soon. If they were, he sets himself up for scrutiny such as is being done in this thread.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Latest info in a developing story:

I got a key fact wrong:

Blumenthal and Wakuda were in fact cooking with Charlie at his restaurant--not guests (though one of the principles I spoke with described being fed foie gras there). The event was a Trotter-hosted 450 dollar a plate event for about 100+ friends of the house--including some gurus from Dom Perignon, Town chef Geoffrey Zakarian and the CEO of Fiji water--among others...Foie gras figured in multiple courses. Menu--and photos to follow.

Whether this diminishes or increases the hypocrisy factor, I leave to the ethicists.

My take? His house? His rules.

abourdain

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I'm sorry, you made a comparison to a situation where morality was at the heart of the issue.

I think you chose to understand it that way. It is about beliefs and choices. It has nothing to do with religion or morality.

A lot of people may choose not to have foie gras because it makes them uncomfortable with the whole morality angle. The point is you dont know and people shouldnt be pressurised to obtain your approval for their choices.

You're on a slippery slope here because I believe you are dealing with beliefs I believe don't exist in the Jewish religion and then interpreting them to make some sort of comparison I don't believe can be made.

I think you need to go back and read what I have written earlier.

We reach common ground if you're insinuating Trotter can conveniently adopt or discard his beliefs at will.

We might reach common ground if you quit misquoting me. Or we may not.

The heart of this matter is that Trotter made some highly unprofessional remarks that were reported in the Chicago Tribune. It's not a local paper of a small community. If those remarkds were not made by Trotter, we'll hear about it soon. If they were, he sets himself up for scrutiny such as is being done in this thread.

It is interesting that you say that because to me, the heart of the matter is the unrealistic and unfair expectation that one should be accountable for one's beliefs and choices which doesnt affect anyone else in any manner whatsoever.

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Latest info in a developing story:

I got a key fact wrong:

Blumenthal and Wakuda were in fact cooking with Charlie at his restaurant--not guests (though one of the principles I spoke with described being fed foie gras there). The event was a Trotter-hosted 450 dollar a plate event for about 100+ friends of the house--including some gurus from Dom Perignon, Town chef Geoffrey Zakarian and the CEO of Fiji water--among others...Foie gras figured in multiple courses. Menu--and photos to follow.

Whether this diminishes or increases the hypocrisy factor, I leave to the ethicists.

My take? His house? His rules.

That is interesting. Two very bush chefs from the other side of the pond and down under agree to cook for a fundraiser. They come armed with good will and recipes and menus. The host imposes 'rules' because it is 'his' house.

You are leaving it to the 'ethicists'? I thought you were the one who called the man a hypocrite. Is hypocrisy unethical now? I find it utterly fascinating that someone who refuses to use ingredients that comes from what he perceives as animal cruelty is to be scrutinised by 'ethicists'.

Re "My take? His house? His rules."

It is also infinitely amusing to me that people who insist on showing their unsolicited disapproval amidst inflated expectations of some kind of cheffy 'loyalty'(to the extent that he has to work against his principles) also expect Trotter to ape their censoring behaviour by instructing his guest chefs to play by 'his rules'. Assuming that Chefs Tetsuya and Heston.B were involved in the creation of the foie gras menu. A fair assumption, I'd say.

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Another difference between the Jew who does not eat pork but serves it and the trotter deal, is that the jew who might cook the pork to make money he needs will probably never think of eating it! It is forbidden pure and simple by religion.

Mr. Trotter claims he has not served the delicacy in his restaurant in about 3 years, based on a personal moral choice. Well, it appears he flat out lied, since apparently he did serve it not too long ago. I also doubt he did not sample the stuff. There is a clear distinction here. You cannot be an enthusiastic vegan and eat eggs for breakfast ONLY on easter. This IS hypocrisy. you either serve the stuff or you DON'T.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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. . .

re purchasing fg-to-go...this seems more clear, but i would also like more details.  i think it's possible that trotter might not be aware that this is happening (i would +hope+ that he would take pains to ensure that it does not, given his stance).  but other questions come to mind...are they getting rid of existing stocks?  is the to-go company under enough of his control (as opposed to business partners) that he can ban that item?

You almost make it sound as if there's no hypocrisy involved in a famous chef lending his name to a shop seeling food whose preparation he neither contols or supervises. The suggestion that its stock of foie gras dates back as far as his decision to no longer trade in foie gras, seems almost slanderous. :biggrin:

no :), not at all. :)

i think sometimes businesses/business agreements evolve in ways that are unexpected, that can certainly give rise to a situation in which someone lending his or her credibility can have a surprise at what might be going on under the imprimatur, and even more unpleasantly, a discovery that there is little or no way to control it.

and mind, i was not stating that this was the case, but that (as the situation stood, and as my understanding of it stood) there was room for this to be.

even in a situation in which a person (not necessarily a chef) is lending her/his name to a business, depending on how many other projects are being worked upon, it may be a (very reasonable) decision to let the day-to-day running of the operation fall to another person or team of persons. the presumption would be that that individual or group would carry on in a similar vein as the "big name" person would (if that was the understanding upfront). well, sometimes people misunderstand, or decide to break (even unofficial agreements). it happens all the time. again, note, i'm not necessarily defending trotter per se, but asserting that it is quite possible in a given scenario as this for the best intentions to go awry. which is, as stated, why i would like to know more (even if this is not ultimately possible). agreed, 'tho, it does not look good on a quick glance, and that quick glance leads to a lot of legitimate suspicions and questions.

re fg....as i'm not aware of the following particulars (but i'm certain that many involved in this discussion would have greater knowledge, and i would welcome the information)

1) how much ahead of time did trotter commit to purchasing fg from suppliers? is this done, as in some other business arrangements, in a manner akin to "we are committed to purchasing x amount for the next 2 years?" (as is done by some coffee purchasers, speculating on coffee futures, in effect; or a committment over a length of time to keep the price down, which is done in many industries) or is it more akin to a rolling, unofficial committment, e.g., "we'll call you in 2 weeks, a month... you know we usually order x amount...we expect that you'll have what we need..."

this may be something well-known to those in the industry (as opposed to myself). but, as i do not posess this information, i must keep the possibility open.

2) for how long fg can be stored (certainly most anyone here is more knowledgeable on this than i, but it is nevertheless an unknown that impacts my analysis, because +i+ do not know; i would be pleased if someone would let me know, or if it came up in the course of the thread.)

3) there is still a question (for me) of how the fg was acquired. again, if it was some gift or something similar, i think there's room to argue that, rather than letting it go to waste, he shared it with folks who would enjoy it. i can see the opposite arguement as well (that in just being the purveyor, he was helping to promote the consumption of something to which he had stated strong objections.)

cheers :)

hc

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Latest info in a developing story:

I got a key fact wrong:

Blumenthal and Wakuda were in fact cooking with Charlie at his restaurant--not guests (though one of the principles I spoke with described being fed foie gras there). The event was a Trotter-hosted 450 dollar a plate event for about 100+ friends of the house--including some gurus from Dom Perignon, Town chef Geoffrey Zakarian and the CEO of Fiji water--among others...Foie gras figured in multiple courses. Menu--and photos to follow.

Whether this diminishes or increases the hypocrisy factor, I leave to the ethicists.

My take? His house? His rules.

more information, which does shed a bit more light.

i am dismayed that he would integrate a substance to which he has such strong objections into an event like this. just a personal opinion. i do acknowledge that some would find room to bend their beliefs for a charity (was this what this was), if foodstuffs were donated (e.g., some fg producer was sponsoring the event, and as such would provide x amount of fg, which had to be used).

if trotter had entire control over the menu, with no need to accomodate potential sponsors, donors, etc., then i would find this choice inconsistent with his previously stated views.

cheers :)

hc

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I don't think I'd refer to either Tetsuya Wakuda or Heston Blumenthal as "bush".

This is not about comped meals, or who ordered the foie--or who touched the foie or who actually ate the foie. It's not about jews or muslims.

As to my rather free reference to "ethicists". Perhaps I should re-state for the irony-impaired:

The question here is not "Is serving foie gras ethical?"

Nor is it even "Is it ethical for Charlie Trotter--given what he's said--to serve foie gras in his restaurant?"

The question is:

"Is Trotter full of shit?"

or

"Given the heap of personal invective he unloaded on Tramonto over this issue, is Trotter especially full of shit?"

abourdain

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The troubling dishes( photos to follow):

Quail jelly, Pea Puree, Cream of Langoustine&Parfait of Foie Gras, Truffle Toast and Oak Film

gallery_2_1019_5506.jpg

Salad of Langoustine with Foie Gras and Echalot Tarragon Vinaigrette

gallery_2_1019_23181.jpg

Roast Foie Gras, Cherry Amaretto&Chamomile, Almond Fluid Gel

gallery_2_1019_6325.jpg

abourdain

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"Given the heap of personal invective he unloaded on  Tramonto over this issue, is Trotter especially  full of shit?"

Ahh..so, that is the heart of the matter, isnt it? All this because Trotter gave RT a verbal boo-boo?

In anycase, you have already decided whether Trotter is full of shit or not, havent you?

P.S. I'd look into how Mark Caro got those quotes and the circumstances surrounding it. It doesnt ring right to me.

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The troubling dishes( photos to follow):

Quail jelly, Pea Puree, Cream of Langoustine&Parfait of Foie Gras, Truffle Toast and Oak Film

Salad of Langoustine with Foie Gras and Echalot Tarragon Vinaigrette

Roast Foie Gras, Cherry Amaretto&Chamomile, Almond Fluid Gel

Do you know who contributed these dishes?

#1 and #3 are possibly Heston.B.

Langoustine salad? It is probably Tetsuya, I have just been informed that as he has done a lobster(or squid maybe) with foie gras pairing before.

Is the term 'langoustines' used in the US?

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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Serving foie gras at a fundraiser, after you've essentially sworn it off, seems even more exploitative than cooking it discreetly for a VIP or favored customer -- or even for yourself. Apparently, if the end justifies the means, the "suffering" endured isn't quite as big a deal.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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I received an email from someone from an anti foie gras site (gourmetcruelty.org) not so long ago claiming that they had an "internationaly recognized" chef willing to put his weight behind their cause. Now that I think about it, I wonder if it was Charlie. Either way, this incident proves unequivocally--once and for all-- the Charlie Trotter is, in fact, a douchebag. His followers claim he's just "very passionate about his line of work". No. Douchebag.

Edited by iheartoffal (log)

Nothing to see here.

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