GG: Was your product inspired by the success of Pateria de Sousa's "Ganso Iberico," or did this come to you in a flash of inspiration?
JS: We have been working on a novel process for a couple of years as a way to complement our free range approach to raising geese under a natural environment to provide the optimal living conditions for our flocks. I only learned of Pateria de Sousa's product on 2/22/07 when a friend sent me [this article from the] Sunday Telegraph. It was great to see that others are also trying to develop alternatives to force feeding of traditional Foie Gras.
GG: How long have you been producing Natural Fatty Goose Liver?
JS: We have been harvesting geese since 1979, I first noticed the different colored liver in the early 90's on birds that we took to a later harvest date. Also, I noted not only changes in liver color as well as size and consistency occurred when using different food and nutrition content. In February of 2006, we decided to explore the differences in more detail and so we separated and monitored some trial pens of geese and actively tried to produce a liver that had a higher fatty content. The procedure is still experimental and we have attempted to do some test marketing of our method using product samples. The response to samples has been very encouraging for our unique method for producing natural Foie Gras alternative. Actually, it is surprising that others have not discovered our process but I think up until now there hasn't been much interest and what has been in the market probably was not as close to the traditional Foie Gras as ours is.
GG: How much have you produced and sold so far?
JS: As this was our first year, we have produced a small amount of different product samples for test marketing. Unfortunately, because of the seasonality of geese, it only allows an opportunity once a year to perfect our product samples.
GG: Are the geese that the fatty liver comes from raised any differently than the rest of the flock, or do you discover which ones have produced a fatty liver in the course of preparing the geese for sale?
JS: They are reared longer than the traditional flock of around 18 weeks. Because our method is proprietary I can't say much more than this, but it is important to point out that no forced feeding or containment occurs. They are raised under similar condition as the rest of the flocks.
GG: As someone who offers an alternative to traditional Foie Gras, what are your personal feelings about efforts to ban force-fed Foie Gras production and sales in the United States?
JS: My family has been in goose production since 1944. I have personally witnessed Foie Gras production in Bulgaria and Hungary and, in the early 80's, worked with a Frenchman to produce one run of a couple hundred head. I can personally attest to the fact that the goose is not very partial to the idea the first few days. Eventually they calm down (especially if the handlers are gentle) and even look forward to it, but of course they are not permitted to eat on their own any more. That process is totally different from our approach, which is meant to NOT put our animals under any stress and provide a natural environment. But personally I love to eat Foie Gras and that led us to the decision to develop an alternative method to produce Foie Gras like product without force feeding geese. Although our method will not, nor is intended to, replace the traditional method, I believe that our Late Harvest Fatty Goose Liver can be a wonderful alternative and I personally enjoy the taste and texture immensely.
Schiltz says that he believes his is the only farm currently producing this type of liver in the United States. If any of you know otherwise, please let us know. FoieBlog expects big things from this developing product and will be very surprised if it doesn’t start to catch on in the coming months.
In the meantime, check out the Schiltz farms website, http://www.roastgoose.com/, for more information on this product and let us know what you think.
And if you find yourself in New Orleans any time soon, drop by the The Delachaise on St. Charles Avenue, where Chef Chris DeBarr, renowned for his work with pates, has been pioneering the use of Schiltz’ Natural Fatty Goose Liver along with other products from Schiltz Goose Farms.
The Crescent City is one of FoieBlog’s favorite gastronaut destinations and we will be sure to check it out ourselves the next time we head for the bayou. Guarantee.