Some Bay Area Restaurants Offering Foie Gras Despite Ban

MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS 5) – At least two restaurants in the Bay Area said they are serving foie gras, despite California’s recently-enacted ban of the delicacy.

The ban took effect on July 1st, but Chez TJ in Mountain View is still serving the fattened duck liver.

“And the law says you cannot sell it. It didn’t say you could not serve it,” said restaurant owner George Aviet.

Chez TJ stockpiled foie gras before the ban took effect, and charged customers $15 to $25 per serving. Recently, they’ve been giving it away with their $130 tasting menu.

“It is legal,” said Joey Elenterio, head chef at Chez TJ. “The law clearly states that selling and producing foie gras in the state of California is illegal. I don’t see any ducks on our property. It’s not on the menu. I’m not selling it. I’m not getting any profit from the foie gras. I’m simply giving it away as a gift from me.”

On Friday, about two dozen protesters showed up at dinnertime holding graphic pictures of birds being force fed.

Mountain View Police said they have responded to complaints from The Humane Society and a local resident saying the restaurant is breaking the law. Police said the law is confusing and have handed off the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

In San Francisco, the Presidio Social Club is planning to serve foie gras on Saturday in honor of Bastille Day. The club claims they are exempt from the state law because the restaurant sits on federal land.

Protesters at Chez TJ said since the foie gras comes with a paid meal, it still amounts to a sale.

“Chez TJ is blatantly in violation of the California foie gras ban. And they care more about a cruel delicacy than complying with the law,” said Dana Portnoy of Santa Clara County Activists for Animals. “If they’re violating this law, you have to wonder what other laws are they violating.”

The remaining foie gras at Chez TJ is expected to last through the weekend. The restaurant is not planning to buy any more until the legality of the delicacy is cleared up.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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