N.Y. Chef takes Horsemeat Off Museum Menu

The chef and co-owner of an eatery located in the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) PS1 gallery, in New York, N.Y., has abandoned his plan to include a horsemeat dish on the restaurant's menu after some equine welfare advocates opposed it.

Horse processing has not taken place in the U. S. since 2007 when a combination of legislation and court decisions shuttered the last remaining horse processing plants in Illinois and Texas. Since then, U.S. horses have been shipped to Mexico or Canada for processing. Horsemeat products intended for human consumption continue to be available to U.S. buyers through importers. Workabeba Yigzaw, public affairs specialist for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), said the agency has no jurisdiction over imported horsemeat products.

"APHIS does not have regulations surrounding the importation of horsemeat for human consumption," Yigzaw said.

On Sept. 27, Chef Hugue Dufour along with co-owners Sarah Obraitis and New York attorney Adam Cohn opened M. Wells Dinette inside MoMA PS1. Initially, Dufour announced that the Dinette's menu would include horse tartare, a dish consisting of finely chopped uncooked seasoned horsemeat that is sometimes topped with a raw egg yolk and served on rye bread.

Shortly after the eatery's opening, some equine welfare advocates created online petitions opposing the decision, and in an Oct. 2 letter Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) New York State Director Brian Shapiro urged MoMA PS1 Gallery Director Klaus Biesenbach to prevent the restaurant's owners from serving the horsemeat dish.

"We urge MoMA to reconsider the M. Wells Dinette's misguided proposal to serve horsemeat and to remove this dangerous and inhumane item from its menu to protect consumers and spare our equine companions pain and suffering," Shapiro said in the letter.

MoMA PS1 Communications Director Rebecca Taylor did not respond to numerous telephone and e-mail requests seeking comment on the letter or the menu controversy.

Restaurant owners Dufour, Obraitis, and Cohn were not available for comment

According to published reports, on Oct. 4, Dufour, Obraitis, and Cohn announced that "Horse meat is off the menu at the Dinette and it is not likely to return."

In a written statement Shapiro praised the owners' decision.

"The Humane Society of the United States applauds the M. Wells Dinette and MoMA PS1 for making the right decision," Shapiro said in his statement. "Americans regard horses as beloved companions, not dinner, and we're glad that tradition will be upheld at one of New York's premiere cultural hubs."

Taylor remained unavailable to comment on MoMA's behalf.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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