Chef Tobias Grignon had never tasted horse when he decided it was something he wanted to put on the menu at Vancouver restaurant Mamie Taylor's.
He'd read about it and heard it discussed at the French restaurants where he had worked, but never had the opportunity to actually put the meat in his mouth.
So, after much difficulty trying to source horse meat, he finally got his chance to try it when 10 kilograms of Alberta cheval was delivered to the restaurant kitchen. Two days later, horse tartare was on the menu.
"We've never been afraid to ruffle a few feathers," Grignon told The Huffington Post B.C. when asked if the new menu item was a provocation. "We put Mamie Taylor's together the way we liked it, and we knew there would be a handful of people who were not going to be pleased."
Some, certainly, have objected to the walls redolent with taxidermy, including The Vancouver Sun's restaurant critic Mia Stainsby, who balked at the many animal heads, writing, "Mamie’s is one of several places trending with trophy taxidermy and every time, it paralyzes my heart."
Likewise, diners have had mixed reactions to seeing horse on the menu over the past three weeks, Grignon says. They are either immediately curious, or instantly turned off.
The irrational psychological block over certain animals as food is something the chef considers a big issue. "It's another motivation for putting horse on the menu," he says. "I eat and process all kinds of animals as a chef, and how the animal is treated, rather than what species it is, is what concerns me."
So are there no limits to what might appear at Mamie Taylor's in the future?
"Well, I wouldn't shy away from eating them myself if I was traveling in a country where they were commonly eaten," Grignon replies.
"But I think I can safely say you won't be seeing dog or cat on the menu at Mamie Taylor's any time soon."
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