The foie gras ban that roiled California last July is turning into a boon for Nevada. The Reno Gazette hones in on the story of Napa Valley's Laurel Pine, founder of gourmet goods vendor Mirepoix USA, which carries more than 40 foie-based products. Pine relocated her business to Reno last year and says that business is booming, with an initial surge of Bay Area residents traveling to enjoy the verboten ingredient at Reno restaurants followed by an increased holiday demand. The owner says that 25% of her clients come from California. "People are very happy to come over here and have it," Pine says, noting that some diners are coming to try it for the first time, simply after learning about the ingredient through the ban. Now she's hoping to entice local restaurants into upping their orders, with designs on Reno becoming a city-wide speakeasy for all Californians who are denied the right to engorged goose and duck liver.
"I want to work more with local restaurants and casinos to promote Reno as the place to get foie gras," Pine declares. If her vision is executed, Reno might even embrace the ability of foie gras as a tourism-generating marketing strategy, while no doubt benefiting her company's bottom line.
The idea already has backing from the CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor Authority, who tells the paper, "Residents of California have had, 'All Seasons-1,000 Reasons,' to visit Reno Tahoe USA for decades, so their state's recent restriction on free choice just gave them the 1,001st reason: Enjoying foie gras in one of our great restaurants in Northern Nevada."
So basically, it's an old story out West: ban it and Nevada will get rich by providing it. Still, Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras, California's lone producer that closed following the ban, with plans for its own move to Nevada, is still yet to form any concrete footholds in the state. Owner Junny Gonzalez explains, "We wanted to have a ranch with a processing plant. For the moment, we have to wait a little bit more. We are in the wait-and-see mode."