The statewideban on the sale of foie gras went into effect July 1, but Chez TJ chef Joey Elenterio has already come up with a plan to get around the new law: free foie gras. Well, it’s not exactly free. You have to plunk down $130 for the Mountain View restaurant’s tasting menu, but the fatty duck liver is served as a “complimentary” course, a move that the chef thinks skirts the prohibition by offering it as a freebie rather than for sale. Elenterio is the first California chef to employ the tactic.

He stockpiled foie gras from Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras before the ban and says he’ll cross the border into Nevada to re-up, a move discussed by other chefs. “I’m not trying to be a rebel but just doing what we’ve been doing for years,” he said. “If my customers want foie gras. … I will continue to serve it to them.”

Elenterio has been an outspoken of the ban and traveled to Sacramento to testify before the legislature. He opposes what he sees as a wrong-headed law on the grounds that it takes away his freedom and creativity as a chef, denies his customers something they’ve grown to expect at the 30-year-old restaurant and is a misunderstanding of how foie gras is produced. Elenterio says the ducks at Sonoma County’s Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras were not tortured but rather came running when it was time to be fed, or overfed as is the practice in foie gras production. Force feeding or “gavage” is how farmers enlarge the animals’ livers.

He says outdated videos of cruel foie gras operations were used to sway the public, but that Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras owner Guillermo Gonzalez treated his animals humanely. “They walked to him to be fed,” he said. “These were very happy ducks.”

Of course not all foie gras operations are created equally. Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras and New York’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras are generally seen as more humane than others in Canada and France, where animals routinely die from enlarged, diseased livers and mass confinement. Female chicks are also killed en masse. (The female liver is covered in veins and therefore not desirable.)

As a chef, Elenterio says he cares deeply about the quality of his ingredients and where they come from. “If I truly thought the ducks were being abused I wouldn’t use,” he said, adding that the state of beef, pork and poultry production are far worse than foie gras.