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Trotter and Tramonto square off over Foie Gras


Osnav
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Don't tell me a chef of his importance can't make the menu. Or was it just some asinine screwup that coincided with the article. It just smacks weird all over it.

Even Charlie Trotter cannot tell Heston.B or Tetsuya what to cook. Or what not to cook. That is disrespectful.

Heston.B crosses an ocean to show off his two signature dishes and to prepare them for a fundraiser as a gesture of friendship..and you tell him, NO? I dont think so.

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Does anyone wonder whether CT has taken some sort of pay to make those statements(About the inhumane raising)? Because the silly ass comment about RT just don't add up. Especially---especially--after his little Charity Shindig. Don't tell me a chef of his importance can't make the menu. Or was it just some asinine screwup that coincided with the article. It just smacks weird all over it.

I'm afraid that CT's comments make perfect sense to me, as I've long sensed he's a prima donna who cares not what others think as long as he gets to do things his way. While this can be seen by some as dedication, others (myself included) interpret it as arrogance.

I don't care for his restaurant because, at least the last time I dined there (in 1996), there was no changing the menu to suit a diner's preferences. The feeling I got was, "If you don't like lamb tongue or sea barnacles, tough luck!"

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Does anyone wonder whether CT has taken some sort of pay to make those statements(About the inhumane raising)? Because the silly ass comment about RT just don't add up. Especially---especially--after his little Charity Shindig.

Mabelline, RT called him a hypocrite first. We dont know the circumstances under which this article developed. If the reporter was going to and fro between the two chefs, carrying messages from RT to CT, asking for comments, then a lot can get lost in the translation. This is not reporting. It is troublemaking. With some agenda probably.

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Mabelline, RT called him a hypocrite first. We dont know the circumstances under which this article developed. If the reporter was going to and fro between the two chefs, carrying messages from RT to CT, asking for comments, then a lot can get lost in the translation. This is not reporting. It is troublemaking. With some agenda probably.

Calling someone a hypocrite in defense of an argument is a perfectly acceptable thing to do; after all, it's RT's feeling about CT with regards to the foie issue. To respond with a fat joke is childish and unworthy of the debate.

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Calling someone a hypocrite in defense of an argument is a perfectly acceptable thing to do; after all, it's RT's feeling about CT with regards to the foie issue.  To respond with a fat joke is childish and unworthy of the debate.

An aspersion upon character is far worse than mockery of physical attributes.

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"Even Charlie Trotter cannot tell Heston.B or Tetsuya what to cook. Or what not to cook. That is disrespectful.

Heston.B crosses an ocean to show off his two signature dishes and to prepare them for a fundraiser as a gesture of friendship..and you tell him, NO? I dont think so."

Ridiculous.

Tetsuya and Heston are two of the nicest chefs in the business. Neither would hesitate, I'd care to venture, had their host and good friend Charlie said, "Look, I'm uncomfortable with your choices--they'll make me look like a hypocrite--and conflict with my deeply held(and publicly stated ) personal beliefs. Please come up with something else."

Tetsuya's "signature" dish is his sea trout. And I'm just guessing--but I gather Blumenthal has a somewhat wider repertoire than foie dishes.

To Charlie's credit (and I have this from him) he chose to stray for reasons of friendship and personal loyalty. That's nice. There's something to be said for violating one's principles in favor of friendship.

What he said about Tramonto, however, was not so nice. And he's just going to have to suck it up and endure the blowback from an ill-considered comment. As well as the embarressment over the timing.

Edited by bourdain (log)

abourdain

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An aspersion upon character is far worse than mockery of physical attributes.

I don't agree. But I would agree that a character fault is far worse than a physical fault. Calling someone a hyprocrite is an accusation, usually based on something the person has said or done. It is an invitation for the accused to explain the apparent hypocrisy. To instead reply with a childish insult is an indication that the accuser was correct and that accused has no defense for his/her actions.

Edited by MT-Tarragon (log)

M. Thomas

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In a way, I am not defending Trotter. I am defending myself. A future ME, perhaps?

Hopefully, the future YOU will not resort to calling people stupid and fat when they disagree with you. Because I agree with you on one point: it is all about the right to have an opinion-- on both sides. And you do your own opinion a disservice when you express yourself like T. did.

Also, RT said, "*It's* a little hypocritical." He didn't even say, "CT is a hypocrite." He was passing a judgment on that particular move by CT, not on the man more generally. Small bit of wording but I think it's significant.

Edited by Tess (log)
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If the reporter was going to and fro between the two chefs, carrying messages from RT to CT, asking for comments, then a lot can get lost in the translation. This is not reporting. It is troublemaking. With some agenda probably.

It's not bad journalism to ask two different parties to comment on the other's statements. That's not troublemaking; that's getting the story.

Edited by Jensen (log)
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In a way, I am not defending Trotter. I am defending myself. A future ME, perhaps?

Hopefully, the future YOU will not resort to calling people stupid and fat when they disagree with you. Because I agree with you on one point: it is all about the right to have an opinion-- on both sides. And you do your own opinion a disservice when you express yourself like T. did.

Yes, I agree. It was rather unfortunate.

But imagine, if you can, this scenario. A reporter asking you how you felt about the Ill Foie Gras situation. You tell him what you feel. He comes back with a message from Tramonto, a fellow chef, who is calling him a hypocrite followed by one of the most irrational statement("All animals are raised for slaughter") and it seems as though it is coming out of the blue. And without provocation.

Also, RT said, "*It's* a little hypocritical." He didn't even say, "CT is a hypocrite." He was passing a judgment on that particular move by CT, not on the man more generally. Small bit of wording but I think it's significant.

I hope Mark Caro had the sense to record it all. The article says that CT "retorted" which means that his reply was directly in response to RT's comment. It is very unwise and irresponsible reporting practice to pass second hand personal comments. Of course, I am only guessing what might have happened. I should probably not dwell upon this until I have more information.

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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If the reporter was going to and fro between the two chefs, carrying messages from RT to CT, asking for comments, then a lot can get lost in the translation. This is not reporting. It is troublemaking. With some agenda probably.

It's not bad journalism to ask two different parties to comment on the other's statements. That's not troublemaking; that's getting the story.

My feeling is that this was done badly. Your opinion may differ.

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An aspersion upon character is far worse than mockery of physical attributes.

I don't agree. But I would agree that a character fault is far worse than a physical fault. Calling someone a hyprocrite is an accusation, usually based on something the person has said or done. It is an invitation for the accused to explain the apparent hypocrisy. To instead reply with a childish insult is an indication that the accuser was correct and that accused has no defense for his/her actions.

Tramonto called Trotter a hypocrite when this fundraiser dinner was not an issue. You can thank bourdain for bringing that up. In my opinion, it is still not an issue as at least 2 out of the 3 foie gras dishes were definitely not Trotter's creation.

Trotter was very clear that he wouldnt use foie gras because the birds were not treated well. Tramonto responded by calling him a hypocrite as 'all animals are raised for slaughter'. This is absolutely irrelevant as Trotter's rationale isnt based upon the philosophy of vegetarianism. Trotter didnt invite Tromonto for a debate. Trotter didnt attempt to persuade others to follow his beliefs. He is carrying on in his own restaurant.

Edited by FaustianBargain (log)
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There would be no animals outside of zoos if they were not raised for a purpose. Especially if they are a pain in the ass animal, which anyone who raises cattle sheep goats poultry fowl etc. will surely tell you. Horses will break your heart. They up and die after 11 months of coddling them through a very carefully planned breeding. Not getting off topic- truly- but if wolf were a privileged gourmet item, they would be covered on all their bases.

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I hope Mark Caro had the sense to record it all. The article says that CT "retorted" which means that his reply was directly in response to RT's comment. It is very unwise and irresponsible reporting practice to pass second hand personal comments.

Where do you get that?

With respect, you may know a lot about cooking but you seem to know zip about journalism.

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An aspersion upon character is far worse than mockery of physical attributes.

I don't agree. But I would agree that a character fault is far worse than a physical fault. Calling someone a hyprocrite is an accusation, usually based on something the person has said or done. It is an invitation for the accused to explain the apparent hypocrisy. To instead reply with a childish insult is an indication that the accuser was correct and that accused has no defense for his/her actions.

Tramonto called Trotter a hypocrite when this fundraiser dinner was not an issue. You can thank bourdain for bringing that up. In my opinion, it is still not an issue as at least 2 out of the 3 foie gras dishes were definitely not Trotter's creation.

Trotter was very clear that he wouldnt use foie gras because the birds were not treated well. Tramonto responded by calling him a hypocrite as 'all animals are raised for slaughter'. This is absolutely irrelevant as Trotter's rationale isnt based upon the philosophy of vegetarianism. Trotter didnt invite Tromonto for a debate. Trotter didnt attempt to persuade others to follow his beliefs. He is carrying on in his own restaurant.

You've made some careful distinctions in this thread and I think Tess did as well here.

. . . .

Also, RT said, "*It's* a little hypocritical." He didn't even say, "CT is a hypocrite." He was passing a judgment on that particular move by CT, not on the man more generally. Small bit of wording but I think it's significant.

Trotter's an adult and responsible for the consequences of what he says and does. Whenever he speaks and whenever he acts, he's aware of what he's said and done before, even if he's not aware of what he's going to do next. Shifting blame on Tony is an argument that says Charlie wouldn't look so bad if we didn't know all the facts.

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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Neither would hesitate, I'd care to venture, had their host and good friend Charlie said, "Look, I'm uncomfortable with your choices--they'll make me look like a hypocrite--and conflict with my deeply held(and publicly stated ) personal beliefs. Please come up with something else."

Maybe you are venturing out too far. Coulda..woulda..shoulda..*you* are not him and *you* werent there. Period. End of story.

Tetsuya's "signature" dish is his sea trout. And I'm just guessing--but I gather Blumenthal has a somewhat wider repertoire than foie dishes.

Blumenthal is tickled silly about the whole flavoured sheet thingy. He even came up with one that tastes like leather. It was ghastly. It was exactly like licking a shoe, but I suppose that was the whole point.

However, you or I do not know why Heston chose those dishes. Those two seems to be the easiest to travel. Heston's menu is designed with British 'food memories'. Porridge, sardine on toast etc. My guesses are only as good as yours.

To Charlie's credit (and I have this from him) he chose to stray for reasons of friendship and personal loyalty. That's nice. There's something to be said for  violating one's principles in favor of friendship.

Hmm. Given that his principle doesnt include interfering in other's creations, save all the foie gras ducks to protect them chefs/punters and given that it is only concerned with his own cooking, I dont think he violated his principles.

Well...I suppose this means that #2 dish was Tetsuya's?

What he said about Tramonto, however, was not so nice. And he's just going to have to suck it up and endure the blowback from an ill-considered comment. As well as the embarressment over the timing.

No, it wasnt nice at all. But that wasnt the point, was it?

Phew! We have come a long way from:

NEWS FLASH:

I can now report with authority that only a short while (within the last few weeks) before sanctimoniously slamming Rick Tramonto, Trotter was serving multiple courses of foie gras with fellow chefs Tetsuya Wakuda and Heston Blumenthal at his restaurant. Apparently--when Charlie says he's against serving foie gras, he means he's against serving it to his regular customers. It means he's against OTHER people serving it.

My source on this is first hand. Meaning one of the two chefs.

Bad enough abandoning his fellow chefs in their time of need (see the Manrique incident). And giving comfort and succour to the enemy. But he is now clearly and indisputably full of shit.

Let Trotter now publicly flop on his belly and fess up. Tramonto was right. He IS a hypocrite.

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Well, this is off-topic now, but since it came up earlier. My photographer re-put up his photos of SFG when we visited so he could take shots for my AoE piece. He mistyped Sonoma, but we'll forgive him anyway.

Some comments:

He owns the copyright on all these. No reproduction without his permission.

He wanted me to point out that he spent the whole time in the gavage building close to retching. Not because of the gavage but because of the smell. Ducks stink. Michael Saunders has a fantastically visceral description of this in From Here You Can't See Paris. Most people adjust to this within twenty to thirty seconds. Not Chris, who seems to be particularly sensitive.

These are all the photos, not even the subset he sent to the editor as choices. Quality varies, which is why he made up a subset for Ed in the first place (and I have a subset of those for myself--makes for an interesting screen saver).

They're (primarily) in black and white deliberately. AoE prints B & W pictures, as some of you probably know. He points out that this makes them look like bootlegging pictures from Prohibition or something like that.

The chickens are not associated with Sonoma Foie Gras. They're from a nearby facility.

Gavage pics start on page 6 or 7.

Read all that? The pics are here.

Derrick Schneider

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

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

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With respect, you may know a lot about cooking but you seem to know zip about journalism.

I studied newsreporting and journalism in CA before I went to study cooking in London. I'd like to think that I know the difference between responsible journalism and sensationalistic scribbling. Naturally, I am depressed that you disagree.

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Those animals we specically raise for food or other purposes would not survive on their own. Sorry, but that's a fact. Feral hogs and goats aside, what'ya think the Average Suburbanite would do when they woke up to a herd of cows on their front yard. Call the animal catcher. And if you turn them out, there are plenty of freerange predators out there to get the excess.

Coyotes and pumas abound outside cities. They will eat joggers. You are going to tell me that if these animals who've been protected and raised by humankind for --what: 7 or 8000 years? are turned out, you think they are gonna live? Just look at a pet dog caught on a freeway. Brain freeze. Do you really think within two decades these animals would be thriving? Give me a break. They have been raised and their entire being is wake up, eat, sleep all protected, wake up again.

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derricks,

Thanks for the link and than you as well to Chris Holmes.

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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Those animals we specically raise for food or other purposes would not survive on their own. Sorry, but that's a fact. Feral hogs and goats aside, what'ya think the Average Suburbanite would do when they woke up to a herd of cows on their front yard. Call the animal catcher. And if you turn them out, there are plenty of freerange predators out there to get the excess.

Coyotes and pumas abound outside cities. They will eat joggers. You are going to tell me that if these animals who've been protected and raised by humankind for --what: 7 or 8000 years? are turned out, you think they are gonna live? Just look at a pet dog caught on a freeway. Brain freeze. Do you really think within two decades these animals would be thriving? Give me a break. They have been raised and their entire being is wake up, eat, sleep all protected, wake up again.

hmmmm....i don't quite know what point you are arguing against/with whom you're argueing...i made none of those statements with which you are disagreeing. i was just asking you (indirectly) to clarify yours, as i didn't understand them. i made a statement (of fact) of my own, to illustrate my impression of what you were saying, while at the same time acknowledging that i was probably (as it turned out, rightly) not understanding what you were trying to say.

cheers :)

hc

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. . . .

As for Foie Gras, both arguments can be made on equal footing I suppose… but what is more important to look at is why it is so crucial an ingredient to those who wish to keep it.

It’s one of the “crutch” ingredients, like caviar – one of those elusive and therefore seemingly extravagant ingredients that most people feel as though they could not prepare even if they could find it, a magic wand in the bag of tricks that by it’s very appearance can justify the high price tag of a meal in the mind of a diner.

. . . .

Crucial? Define crucial. I think Sam has already said enough on the importance of foie gras and of cheap chicken. The world would go on quite well if we stopped eating foie gras and chicken. Poultry, poultry products and poultry by-products aren't crucial, with the exception of eggs. I'd really miss eggs far more than foie or chicken. As a crutch ingredient, if it is one and I don't even care to argue it isn't, it will go out of fashion. It already has to a great extent, but as it's become less of a crutch in haute cuisine, it's gone populist -- albeit to a very small degree. In Israel I'm told, it's snack food. In the Perigord, it's seasonal and a part of every farmer's Christmas and New Year's traditions.

I do think we've gotten off target. The ethics and morality have been debated in a number of threads and we're repeating ourselves here. Trotter and Tramonto are the story here. Of course I only have the author's words to go by, but it seems an awfully great escalation to go from Tramonto's " "It's a little hypocritical" to Trotter's "Rick Tramonto's not the smartest guy on the block." Indeed, Trotter didn't stop there. "Dumb," "idiotic" and "fat" were all used perjoratively referring to Tramonto. Interesting article. It seemed pro-foie gras and fair. Given my sentiments on the subject, there's no contradiction there. Obviously the comments throughout the article were well chosen, and interesting to me.

I agree in large part with sizzleteeth. And pointing out what may be going on in Israel (I think you exaggerate perhaps a bit here) and the Perigord (2 of the 3 largest goose foie gras producing areas in the world - the other being Hungary) doesn't prove that foie gras is populist. When it starts showing up on a regular basis in restaurants in Peoria - then perhaps I'll change my mind.

As for Trotter and Tramonto being the story - well the facts of what happened seem to be a moving target in this thread. With a lot of people slinging mud (and worse) at the moving target. I don't care if Bourdain is correct in asserting that Trotter is a "public figure" (a lawyer/journalist term of art that means you're free to sling a lot more mud at that person than you can sling at ordinary people). I don't feel comfortable roasting or defending someone on the basis of what he's supposed to have done when I'm not sure exactly what he did. And Bourdain may not even be correct in his "public figure" conclusion. In which case - I feel even less comfortable.

I agree with you about eggs. So I will now go to the thread I started discussing the mystery of the easy to peel eggs. Robyn

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I do not argue against anyone. My reply was in response to the "all animals are raised for slaughter" comment and the basic truth underlying that statement. If it costs you 900 bucks a year supposing nothing untoward happens to raise one steer, but you receive 1750 for his butt when he goes across the ring, you have a considerable attachment. If everyone quit eating domestically raised animals tomorrow morning, I will guarantee you'd see a bigger dieoff of species then the Roman Coliseums were responsible for.

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