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Registered: 09/25/00
Posts: 2,276
Animal-rights vandals hit chef's home
    #1830707 - 08/19/03 06:49 PM (14 years, 9 months ago)


Animal-rights vandals hit chef's home, shop (DOMESTIC TERRORISM ALERT)
San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 08/19/2003 | Kim Severson

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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old hand
Registered: 04/14/02
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Re: Animal-rights vandals hit chef's home [Re: wingnutx]
    #1830918 - 08/19/03 08:05 PM (14 years, 8 months ago)

There are a lot of examples of cruelty in the livestock industry--foie gras production is one of the clearest. Problem is, it tastes so damn good.

foie gras is an enlarged liver--a very painful disease

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Pot Head Pixie

Registered: 09/04/02
Posts: 863
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Re: Animal-rights vandals hit chef's home [Re: wingnutx]
    #1830924 - 08/19/03 08:07 PM (14 years, 8 months ago)

Having been involved for some years helping out animal rights causes from an educational perspective, i.e., putting out literature at street fairs and talking to people if they feel like it, I hate seeing stuff like this because it doesn't really advance any positive message, and only makes the majority of people doing animal rights things look bad, well, worse I should say, since it is the kind of thing that attracts an unapproving eye. I do totally hate the practice of force feeding geese to make this stuff (fuckin' liver paste, who wants that anyway?), but I think trying to make information available to people is a much better method to pursue.

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Registered: 06/03/03
Posts: 2,633
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Re: Animal-rights vandals hit chef's home [Re: TheHobbit]
    #1831050 - 08/19/03 09:03 PM (14 years, 8 months ago)

I could not agree with you more. This is similar to the ELFs ridiculous tactics.

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Registered: 08/09/03
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Re: Animal-rights vandals hit chef's home [Re: wingnutx]
    #1831051 - 08/19/03 09:03 PM (14 years, 8 months ago)

Hardcore animal rights activists are nutcases.

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