Chef Jeffrey Nimer has traveled the world in order to sample cuisine from a variety of cultures. For this reason, Jeffrey Nimer has a versatile palate that has opened him up to dishes he might not have otherwise prepared. However, in recent years, Jeffrey Nimer has noticed a backlash against a certain cooking ingredient that has led it to be banned in the state of California where he works. Recently, Jeffrey Nimer spoke to Interviews & News about foie gras, which has become a taboo in the food industry.
Interviews & News: Can you explain to our readers just what foie gras is?
Jeffrey Nimer: Foie gras is a dish comprised of geese liver, which contains high level of fat. In America, foie gras tends to be prepared with duck liver instead of goose.
Interviews & News: Why the recent controversy?
Jeffrey Nimer: The controversy is largely due to how these birds are supposedly treated as they are prepared for slaughter.
Interviews & News: How are they treated?
Jeffrey Nimer: To prepare the birds, they are fed a special diet that helps increase fat levels in the liver. Doing this involves putting a funnel or auger down the bird’s throat, a process that brings protests from animal rights activists and others.
Interviews & News: What I’ve heard is that instead of completely driving foie gras from the market, all the fuss has increased demand for it. How in the world does that happen?
Jeffrey Nimer: Experts call it the “cookie in the jar” phenomenon. The more something is disallowed, the more the public wants it.
Interviews & News: Similar to Prohibition?
Jeffrey Nimer: Yes. People want what they can’t have.
Interviews & News: Is the hype justified?
Jeffrey Nimer: The process of fattening birds is similar to their own eating process in the wild.
Interviews & News: Are you for or against the ban?
Jeffrey Nimer: Well, I believe when multiple states ban a particular food, it invites unfair trade practice.
Interviews & News: With such a demand, what can chefs do?
Jeffrey Nimer: As long as the ban is in place, chefs can either turn down clients who are often willing to pay top-dollar for the coveted dish or serve foie gras anyway.
Interviews & News: What happens if a chef is caught serving foie gras?
Jeffrey Nimer: Fines can be a thousand dollars a day, which is pretty high.
Interviews & News: Do you think the ban will be removed soon?
Jeffrey Nimer: Many in the industry aren’t hopeful that it will. Currently there’s nothing in the works that would turn things around.
Jeffrey Nimer is the Founder of Haute Chefs, a full-service catering business that provides delicious cuisine to a variety of clients in the Los Angeles area. A highly respected chef, he has cooked for some of the biggest names in the entertainment business.