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Chefs Get Death Threats Over Foie Gras

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Some of the chefs that successfully fought the foie gras ban—and who have hurriedly added the controversial ingredient to their menus in the wake of the ban's overturn— say that they're getting death threats from animal rights activists.

Sean Chaney, executive chef of Hermosa Beach's Hot's Kitchen and a part of the coalition to overturn the ban in the courts, told the Huffington Post that he's been getting threatening messages on the phone, through email, Instagram and Facebook, like this: "I'm gonna find you; I'm gonna murder you; I'm gonna find where you sleep and shove a pipe down your throat. If I don't do it, somebody else will."

Ken Frank, owner of La Toque in Napa Valley, said he's been getting similar threats: "A good share of them talk about shoving a pipe up my ass or down my throat. But it's the ones who would like to see me hung by my feet and bled to death with no anesthetic—those are the most disturbing."

The FBI's animal terrorist division is looking investigating these threats, and a phone call from an agent interrupted Chaney's interview with NPR. But it hasn't done much to dampen Chaney's enthusiam. Hot's Kitchen put foie back on the menu the day it was legalized, and this is a taste of what they're offering today:

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Chaney says he's not scared: "I sleep OK; I'm not too worried. People that write threats like that don't have the guts to say it to my face."

PETA pooh-poohed the chef's claims. President Ingrid E. Newkirk offered a statement to the Huffington Post suggesting the death threats were all made up: "PETA is skeptical of the claim that threats are being made. Anyone who's desperate enough to want to serve up the diseased, fatty livers of tortured birds is certainly not above making up a fat lie. This big macho chef needs to 'man up' and recognize that part of being a man means having a heart."

Animal rights activists have rallied to protest chefs serving foie gras, because the dish (with some exceptions) requires fattening the livers of ducks through force-feeding that activists consider torture.

California's ban on the production and sale of foie gras went into effect in 2012. That didn't stop chefs from serving the stuff using loopholes or going underground. PETA responded by suing those restaurants. Some "hacktivists" targeted the out-of-state Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and harassed chefs who served their foie. Last week a judge said that selling foie is A-okay though its production in the state is still banned.

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