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Thomas Keller Has Bluefin At The French Laundry; But Why?

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An Eater reader recently brought the current menu at The French Laundry to our attention; and we were genuinely surprised to see its overt use of Japanese bluefin tuna as the central ingredient in the fourth course. In case you're not up on the rapidly declining world populations of this species and Japan's recent defeat on conservationist industrialized nations desperately seeking to ban its international trade, well let's just say the bluefin may very well be extinct in the next few years. Although the Cheesecake Factories -- and even many unconscionable luxurious restaurants -- of the world will continue to serve bluefin until it truly has expired, Josh Osersky recently pointed out high-profile chefs like Eric Ripert at New York's Le Bernardin are taking the high road, refusing to serve bluefin for ethical reasons.

But somehow T-Kell seems to ignore what's happening, despite the heightened awareness of these sorts of issues in the Bay Area. During the foie gras protest in May, you'll recall the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group issued this statement about "selecting the most ethical purveyors possible" for menu offerings. So where does serving bluefin fit into that ethos? Naturally we asked T-Kell's people if they had something to say on the manner, sincerely hoping there was some abundant bluefin population out there that we don't know about. But we haven't heard anything back. So we thought you should know. [CALL AND RESPONSE: As Zagat reports, T-Kell uses kindai tuna, raised in a Japanese laboratory, at The French Laundry, which is certainly a lot better than wild-caught bluefin. We apologize for implying that The French Laundry uses wild bluefin, but we still haven't heard confirmation from his public relations department as to what exactly he's using. It does appear, however, that he's researched the best option out there. But keep in mind many are skeptical as to the sustainability of this particular method of production, which uses 12 to 13 pounds of wild fish to produce a single pound of tuna. And no one's talking about the sustainability (or lack thereof) of shipping a few fish a week all the way from Japan. Let's just say Alice Waters won't be serving it. As always, we'd like to hear your thoughts on this.]

· Awareness of Bluefin Decline Urged [Japan Times]
· Japan Lands a Death Sentence for the Bluefin [Times UK]
· Turning My Back, Sadly, On Bluefin Tuna [TIME]
· Tree Sitters, Meet Chainsaws [Curbed]
· National Foie Gras Protest Hit The French Laundry [~ ESF ~]

[Photo: National Post]

The French Laundry

6640 Washington Street, , CA 94599 (707) 944-2380 Visit Website

The French Laundry

6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA

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