Food Trends

Demand for foie gras soaring in California after ban lifted

Seared, spread on toast, even in ice cream: Foie gras is back in a big way in California.

Seared, spread on toast, even in ice cream: Foie gras is back in a big way in California.  (iStock)

How do you make a specialty food popular? Make it illegal.

Restaurants across California are now scrambling to buy foie gras after a California judge overturned a two year, statewide ban, reports the NY Times.

“At this very moment, there is more demand than there is supply,” told Dan Ketelaars, a foie gras wholesaler in Orange County, told the Times.

Foie gras, the fatty liver of an overfed duck or goose, is expensive—between $35 and $55 a pound wholesale. But restaurants usually serve the delicacy in small portions, making it profitable.

Now that the delicacy is legal again, chefs are also finding unusual ways to feed the fatty duck frenzy--from sweet and savory foie gras ice cream sandwiches at San Francisco's Humphry Slocombe to a foie gras locos moco at LA's Animal, mixed with hamburger patty and Spam.

“We saw an up in volume two years ago when the ban went into effect,” Ariane Daguin, chief executive of specialty food purveyor D’Artagnan told the NY Times. “People wanted to see what the brouhaha was about. Now what is happening is all the chefs who are our friends and have been buying other things from us want to put foie gras back on the menu.”

Some restaurants have even been put on waiting lists to receive foie gras. But suppliers say they've seen orders soar in recent weeks. Marcus Henley, manager of Hudson Valley Foie Gras in upstate New York, told the Telegraph that California-based orders for his ducks' fatty livers has risen from "zero to 25 per cent of our normal weekly business."

The return of the unctuous organ has animal rights activists up in arms. Protestors have been spotted at Los Angeles area restaurants chanting slogans like “Blood! Blood! Blood on your hands!”

But right now, California customer demand has trumped activist pleas to take foie gras off the menu.