Alexis Gauthier, French chef and owner of the Michelin-starred Gauthier Soho restaurant in central London, has made what he calls a “humane alternative” to fois gras, calling it “faux gras”.
The dish is made with walnuts, mushrooms, lentils, shallots and beetroots, and comes served in a glass pot, designed to look very similar to the real thing.
The “faux gras” is completely meat-free, suitable for vegans, and will be served as part of the restaurant’s wider vegan menu, from June 1.
Mr Gauthier - who is originally from Avignon (Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) - said that even if the dish might not fool die-hard foie gras fans, many would be surprised to learn that it is entirely plant-based.
The chef created the vegan dish in response to growing concerns from animal welfare groups - and restaurant diners - that the original foie gras dish is inhumane, given that it requires ducks and geese to be overfed (normally via a tube down their throat, a technique known as “gavage”) to fatten their livers.
The “faux gras” comes as Mr Gauthier prepares to offer a fully-vegan, eight-course menu at his restaurant this summer.
Gauthier Soho will continue to serve meat to those who request it, but the chef called the new vegan menu a “liberating...natural step forward”, which gave guests the choice to eat exactly what they want.
He stopped serving real foie gras last year because he “didn’t believe in it”, he said, and “noticed zero negative impact on customer satisfaction” after doing so.
Welfare concerns about foie gras are spreading across France, with estimates suggesting that over a third of the public have boycotted the product due to this.
Similarly, last year, an experimental farm in the Ariège sparked interest when it revealed it was raising geese to make foie gras without gavage, instead using a kind of bacteria to promote liver growth without the need for excess feeding.
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