Hugue Dufour, chef and co-owner of M. Wells Dinette, which opened last week inside MoMA PS1, has cut the horsemeat tartare that he had planned for the restaurant’s menu. The decision comes amidst protests from animal rights organizations, including the Humane Society, as well as many diners.
In a statement, quoted by The New York Times‘ Diner’s Journal blog, Mr. Dufour said, “We took it off because it upset so many people, which truly surprised us. That is not the effect we look for in our food, so away it goes.”
Read the full statement below.
Horsemeat is off the menu at the Dinette and it is not likely to return. We took it off because it upset so many people, which truly surprised us. That is not the effect we look for in our food, so away it goes.
We thought about serving it because we like to offer customers new things. We get tired of beef-chicken-pork all the time and we assume diners do, too. Whatever else horses are – draft animals, companions, transport – their meat is also delicious and affordable. In Quebec, where our chef is from, the presence of horse on a menu is unremarkable. Canada is far from the only culture where eating horse does not rise to the level of taboo.
Here in New York the law is ambiguous. We received contradictory opinions from two different government agencies with overlapping jurisdiction. All we can say with certainty is that the law appears to be in flux.
Public opinion here is split, too. Last summer, at a food festival in Brooklyn, we sold over 5,000 horse bologna foie gras grilled cheese sandwiches to many happy New Yorkers. Nevertheless, scandalizing animal lovers is not what we want to be famous for. It was certainly not our intent to insult American culture. However, it must be said, part of living in a city like New York means learning to tolerate different customs. If our critics can forgive us, we invite them in for a drink and a bite of whatever animal they do consume (if any). At any rate, we cry uncle.