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Chef Laurent Manrique's Home & Shop 
Targeted by Animal-Rights 

KIM SEVERSON / SF Chronicle 19aug03

Animal-Rights Vandals Hit Chef's Home, Shop
Activists call French-style foie gras cruel to birds

Chef Laurent Manrique's Home & Shop Targeted by Animal-Rights KIM SEVERSON / SF Chronicle 19aug03

What is "Foie Gras"? 

Made from the fatty liver produced by overfeeding ducks and geese, foie gras is considered a delicacy in most countries, in either whole or pate form. To reach the desired texture and flavour, the animals are force fed, some dying in the process, and others sure to die if the the excessive feeding were to continue. Their livers grow to 6-10 times the normal size, many hemorrhaging before it the animals are ready to be killed.

On the left, a normal sized liver; 
on the right, one for foie gras

They are kept in cages alone, usually, with only their heads protruding. This way, the feeders can easily grab only the heads of the geese and force their beaks open. It is very efficient, so that an hour can have up to 1000 animals fed. Occasionally, the food is accidentally pumped into the air pipe instead of the food pipe, and the animals die. They can also suffer neck breakage or other more minor injuries, including bruising and cuts.

The Captivity

The enlarged livers can cause difficulty in breathing for the birds, and the enclosed area in which they are forced to live causes great emotional distress as well as physical pain -- they cannot preen each other or themselves; they are forced to abandon all natural behavior. Ducks and geese are often reported to pant a lot, particularly in the later stages of their "preparation".

What can you do? The best advice is to make sure you don't eat foie gras, and tell restaurants which serve it why. Ask them to stop serving it! And spread the word. Tell friends, family, anyone that will listen -- and even some who won't -- about the brutality behind foie gras.

source: http://kirstenb.tripod.com/arfoiegras.html 19aug03

A top San Francisco chef has become the target of radical animal-rights activists in a series of attacks that police are calling domestic terrorism.

Aqua chef Laurent Manrique has been the victim of vandals who spray-painted his home and splashed his car with acid, and he has received threatening letters and videotapes.

It's part of what police say may be a national campaign aimed at those who produce a signature ingredient of French haute cuisine -- foie gras -- and the chefs who use it.

Foie gras -- fattened goose or duck liver -- has become controversial because of the way it is produced, which involves force-feeding fowl. How much the animals suffer -- or whether they suffer at all -- has been the subject of much debate.

The worst damage came last week when vandals broke into the new foie gras specialty store and restaurant that Manrique and his partners had planned to open next month in a historic adobe building on the Sonoma Plaza.

Called Sonoma Saveurs, it will offer various foie gras preparations plus wine, cheese and other local products.

Vandals plugged new plumbing with chunks of cement, spray-painted the walls and appliances, and turned on the water, according to police.

The resulting flood forced two neighboring stores to shut down, with little hope of reopening until next week at the earliest, said property manager Lori Bremner. She said the adobe in the building, built in 1842, should dry out, but the damage to the new shop and the loss of business to the neighbors could send the total tab close to $50,000.

"One would think people who wish to honor animals would not wish to damage history," Bremner said.

Sonoma Police Chief John Gurney said his department is coordinating with other local police departments and the FBI. He calls the case "domestic terrorism."

"It's because of the nature of the crime and the fact that they are trying to impact the freedom of citizens here and intimidate them to change their course of business," he said. "That happens to be illegal."

The attacks began last month when vandals sprayed red paint on Manrique's Mill Valley home and on the Santa Rosa home of Didier Jaubert, a partner in the foie gras venture. Attackers also put acid-based etching foam on their cars and windows, and glued shut locks and garage doors. The Bite Back Web magazine says that etched on Manrique's car windows was "foie gras is animal torture" and "murderer."

A sacred Buddha statue in Manrique's yard was also damaged. Manrique, the French-born chef of San Francisco's famed Aqua restaurant, is a practicing Buddhist.

The perpetrators left a videotape, which Manrique said was shot from his garden and showed his family relaxing inside their home. It was accompanied by a letter warning that they were being watched.

"I freaked out, and my wife started to panic," he said.

Then came threatening letters that warned the men to "stop or be stopped," said Jaubert.

Police Chief Gurney declined to say whether there were any suspects but called the attackers sophisticated and relentless.

The attacks have been documented on the Bite Back Web magazine, and Manrique and Jaubert say they are scared because their home addresses have been posted on the Internet.

"What are they going to do next?" Manrique asked. "Are they going to go after me?"

Foie gras has long been a staple of French cooking and is a favorite ingredient among high-end chefs. It is created when ducks or geese are force- fed grain through tubes that are put down the birds' throats.

The liver-fattening method was invented by the Egyptians and perfected by French grandmothers, Manrique said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have a national campaign against the nation's three foie gras producers. That includes the California operation, in which Jaubert and Manrique are working with Guillermo Gonzalez and his company, Sonoma Foie Gras, to create a new, hand-crafted line of liver.

The two other producers are located in the Hudson Valley region of New York State.

Cem Akin of Santa Cruz, a research associate with PETA, denied that his group is involved with the foie gras violence in the Bay Area, but he called foie gras "one of the most egregiously cruel food products out there." But Jaubert and Manrique say the ducks, which are raised and processed on an old walnut farm near Stockton, are not caged, have ample water and shade, and aren't stressed. The company processes about 1,200 ducks a week.

Because of his love of foie gras, Manrique is no stranger to animal rights protests. He was the focus of pickets and an Internet campaign when he was chef at Campton Place in San Francisco and, before that, at the Waldorf- Astoria in New York. But none of the previous protests were violent.

Although the vandalism has pushed back the scheduled opening of the Sonoma shop, the partners have no plans to stop.

"We are going to keep going. We cannot see their point," said Jaubert. "These people, they have a cause, of course. We don't deny this. But we are very disturbed by the way they are acting and the methods they are using. We don't think this is acceptable."

Says Manrique, who was born and raised in the foie gras region of France, "Welcome to America, the country of free speech, eh?"

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