Live, Love, Eat (Well) ™
… and Humanely
A group of close pals and I have a decadent little holiday tradition. We go to Spago Beverly Hills for our annual Christmas party. “Dr. Vahan,” a wine collector, bon vivant and good friend of nearly all LA chefs, brings fancy wines from his cellar, and we whoop it up, indulge in mouth-watering cuisine, exchange little gifts, wear Santa hats, and cause a general raucous. Luckily, Vahan is buddies with Wolfgang Puck, so we don’t get kicked out. In fact, Wolfgang usually comes over and pulls up a seat toward the end of the night.
About three years ago, on one such occasion, I pulled up to the front of the restaurant and noticed a group of people standing outside, protesting. They were holding up signs of abused geese in crates and yelling “Don’t Eat Fois Gras!” Disturbed by the sad images of suffering birds, I agreed I wouldn’t and went in to meet my friends. Wouldn’t you know, the special of the evening was the fois gras menu. Yes, I ate it. I enjoyed it. I reveled in it. I would have bathed in it, actually. I hate to admit how tasty it was.
As I waited for my car to be brought up by the valet, I avoided the protesters, knowing inside was rotten hypocrite I was, and guiltily drove home.
Luckily for me, and all the other diners who love animals, yet love to eat them, Wolfgang Puck is to the rescue! Already known for creating innovative natural, fresh and organic dishes, he announced, today, that his restaurants are implementing a ‘humane farm animal treatment program,’ created in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and with advice from Farm Sanctuary.
Puck points out, “Our guests… want to eat healthy food, in good conscience.” He went on to say, "Our guests are interested in the same environmental issues that have long concerned us -- sustainable farming and fishing, humane treatment of farm animals and reducing the amount of hormones, antibiotics, preservatives and pesticides in the food we eat. Using fresh, seasonal, organic produce and naturally raised animals enhances and sustains the quality of life, and that is what Wolfgang's Eating, Loving, and Living is all about."
Wolfgang Puck Catering has already demonstrated its capabilities to serve its most celebrated clients by taking Oscar(R) organic, with a highly successful organic menu for the 2007 Governor's Ball.
The historic nine-point program aims to stop the worst practices associated with factory farming. In the next few months, Wolfgang Puck Companies and dining venues will:
1. Only use and serve eggs from cage-free hens not confined to battery cages.
2. Only serve all-natural or organic crate-free pork. Crates prevent pigs from turning around.
3. Only serve all-natural or organic crate-free veal. Crates prevent calves from turning or walking.
4. Only serve certified sustainable seafood.
5. Eliminate foie gras from its menus. Force-feeding swells ducks' livers up to 10 times their normal size.
6. Only serve all-natural or organic chicken and turkey meat from farms that are compliant with progressive animal welfare standards.
7. Continue to feature and expand certified organic selections on all menus.
8. Continue to offer and expand vegetarian selections on all menus.
9. Send a letter to suppliers regarding methods of poultry slaughter that involve less suffering.
Chef Puck sums it up with, "We want a better standard for living creatures. It's as simple as that." By the way, the meat at his newly opened Beverly Hills eatery Cut is already serving corn-fed beef. (Sooooo delicious!!) Inviting guests to indulge without guilt is what I call that decadence at its finest.