Recently a person emailed me to say they would not be dining at Siena because I was featuring Foie Gras on my Valentine’s Day menu. Below is my response and the reason(s) for my decision to serve this tasty indulgence.
In 1995 myself and several other Austin Chefs joined Chefs Collaborative 2000. We represented the busiest, trendiest restaurants in Austin at the time and we had buying power.
Mezzaluna (where I was Chef) was always on a 20hour wait and was the first of many restaurants that would later become known as the “4th Street District.”
This attracted the interest of Alice Waters. Alice was the chef/owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, and a front runner and veteran of the fresh, seasonal, local food movement and was here in Austin promoting her book and CC2.
The idea was for us, the top chefs of Austin’s busiest restaurants, to buy as much of our inventory as possible from local Farmers and Ranchers who grew organic, chemical free produce, raised hormone/antibiotic-free animals, practiced humane animal husbandry, avoided GMOs and used ecologically responsible methods.
This would not only give the local producers more cash flow so they could grow and improve their operation, it would also put the pressure on the larger food distributors to start carrying products produced under the same guidelines.
Now 21 years later, across the U.S., especially here in Austin I am proud to say, it worked. I can’t remember a time when I have seen so many successful localvore restaurants.
At Siena I buy grass fed, grass finished beef, locally raised chickens that are hormone free, grain fed-free range-hormone free veal, all natural-hormone-antibiotic free pork, GMO free products and sustainable – non threatened fish species.
I have also avoided buying Foie Gras until I could find a producer that practiced humane animal husbandry and now that I have I am going to serve it, without guilt.
Thanks for reading, Buon appetito!