“I live in a state where I can buy marijuana down the street, but I can’t buy foie gras. There’s something fundamentally wrong.” This surprisingly true statement made by Sean Chaney, executive chef of Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach, CA, highlights the topic everyone seems talking about in California now that the July 1st ban on foie gras is officially in play. Pot but no duck liver. However, just like marijuana use continues to exist where it is still illegal, foie gras will continue to be enjoyed by chefs and food enthusiasts in California. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
On July 15th about a dozen foie gras fans gathered in a small San Francisco restaurant for a “private event.” Behind the closed doors however, this was no ordinary dinner party. Rebellious, daring guests feasted upon the forbidden fruit that is now foie gras, for what was called a “duckeasy” event. Turns out “duckeasies” are now popping up all over California as chefs and foodies find ways to get around the ban without technically breaking the law (while others do and either don’t get caught or just don’t care).
One way to get past the new law is by hosting these type of ticketed “events” so that the item on the menu (foie gras) is not being directly bought/sold. Aha, clever. Another loophole, as done at Chaney’s Hot’s Kitchen, is to offer “complimentary” foie gras so that technically no one is purchasing the banned duck liver. For example, the Hot’s Kitchen menu offers a burger that is served with “complimentary” foie gras. The menu item is listed for a higher price than other burgers, but it does not indicate that you are paying for the addition of foie gras.
One lucky San Francisco restaurant doesn’t even have to actively find a loophole. They are sitting on it. Presidio Social Club is located in Presidio National Park and claims the restaurant does not have to abide by the new state ban since it technically sits on federal land. Lucky ducks.