Foie gras can be a controversial delicacy, so what about making it vegan?
That’s exactly what a French chef has done, creating a dish he calls faux gras.
Alexis Gauthier, who owns a Michelin-star restaurant in London, said he had a mid-life crisis, and instead of buying a Harley-Davidson, he went vegan.
Since then, he has been trying to create recipes with plants only.
“Traditionally, I’m a trained French chef and was cooking with meat, fish and foie gras until the day I realised that wasn’t for me anymore, so I’m trying to rethink my entire food knowledge and rewrite all the rules of cooking and eating with a vegan perspective,” he said.
“In France, people love foie gras, so I’ve tried to develop a recipe where I will have the same kind of texture sensation and deliciousness of foie gras without killing any other animals – so no abuse involved in this. It’s based off lentils, walnuts and shallots.”
The production of real foie gras – where ducks and geese are force fed via a tube inserted into their throats to make them eat more and fatten up their livers – has long been described as inhumane by animal rights campaigners.
Gauthier was filmed creating the recipe for his faux gras and it now has 4.5 million views on Facebook.
The vegan version is made from olive oil, shallots, salt, garlic, button mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, sage, cognac, cooked lentils, toasted walnuts and soy sauce blended together. Beetroot puree is then added to give the faux gras a more authentic colour.
It is then left to refrigerate for a few hours, before being topped with dairy-free butter and served on toasted bread.
Gauthier said true lovers of the luxury item wouldn’t necessarily be fooled by his faux gras version in a blind taste test, but he thinks they would be shocked to learn its meat free.
The dish is set to appear on the menu of his restaurant Gauthier Soho, which was awarded a Michelin star in 2011.
This is a difficult one for me, as with a chef hat on I think that it is clever development to mimic taste and texture of anything using alternative ingredients. But with my consumer and commercial hat, I am far from convinced that vegans look to replace meat with meat substitutes.
Some vegans are repelled by the feel and form of meat, so vegan burgers that bleed, vegan bacon and faux gras seem like products that have been designed by carnivores in a patronising ‘look what you’re missing’ attempt to be clever.
Also, why choose such a controversial product to mimic?