Ducking Controversy: Telepan Readies for Visit From Pâté Police

Photo: Courtesy of Animal Protection & Rescue League

Remember the Animal Protection & Rescue League? After protesting outside of Momofuku last summer, the San Franciscobased vegan avengers promised a sustained presence in New York, but we never really heard from them again. Now organizer Bryan Pease informs us that the group has hired Michelle Brotman, a New School student who works at vegan eatery Blossom, to be its New Yorkcampaigns coordinator. Shell organize more protests, and the first one will take place outside of Telepan on March 27 from 7 p.m. till 9 p.m.

Wait a minute Bill Telepan? The chef whos trying to improve school lunches with hormone-free milk? The same chef who won a merit badge from Animal Welfare Approved, for switching to a grass-fed beef burger? We called Telepan to make sure they had the right guy.

Sure enough, the chef was surprised to have been targeted by the organization not only because he has long objected to practices such as the beak-clipping of turkeys and factory farming in general (and sources his food accordingly), but also because he doesnt sell all that much foie gras in the first place. The foie-gras ravioli he did over the winter isnt on the menu anymore. Telepan tells us, I wrote them a letter back explaining to them that I've known Izzy [Yanay] and Michael [Ginor, of Hudson Valley Foie Gras] for many years. Ive been to their farms many times. Ive seen their production many times, and Im very satisfied with the way they produce it. And then I ran off the list of all the other people I buy meat from by their first names and reminded them that I was one of seventeen restaurants that are on the Certified Humane list. Its nuts! Theyre picking on the wrong guy.

Of course, Bryan Pease disagrees. If theres a business that professes to care about animal welfare and more ethical food practices but is also serving foie gras, its almost worse than a restaurant that says they just dont care. If [Bill Telepan] has taken that stance [about foie gras], its not just a matter of being hypocritical but its providing more legitimacy to this practice of force feeding and making it seem like it fits in with free range and organic and all these other values.

To be sure, Telepan isnt the only one thats being targeted. Weve heard that Wylie Dufresne and John Fraser have also received letters. But the Telepan protest is the one thats currently on the calendar. So what can the group expect when they show up? We got sweets for them if they want sweets, Telepan jokes. If its raining, Ive got umbrellas. Ive talked to the local police, so theyre going to be hanging around to make sure they dont destroy the place. No doubt the po-po will be especially vigilant if theres some delicious foie-gras ravioli in it for them.