LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CBS) -- Fine restaurants from Sacramento to San Diego are about to be cut off from a classic ingredient. Because of animal cruelty concerns, California will soon be the first state to make foie gras illegal.
Michael Voltaggio is one of the hottest young chefs in la. This top chef winner is about to lose one of his favorite foods. He says, "The first time you taste it, it like changes you. You eat it and you're like wow, that's something I haven't had before. I can't even talk about it or put it into words, it's that type of ingredient; it's just good!"
He's talking about foie gras, the expensive French delicacy made from fattened duck livers. Voltaggio serves it as his signature foie gras waffle.
Across town chef Josiah Citrin is trying to keep up with the foie feeding frenzy. His Michelin starred restaurant Melisse has been slammed because California is banning foie on the first of July.
Protestors are packed in front of citrin's doors and are ready for a foie fight. Animal rights activists call this the delicacy of despair because ducks and geese are usually force fed corn to fatten their livers to make foie gras. Protester Jessica Schlueder says, "It's one of the most cruelly obtained foods that I'm aware of, if you want to consider fatty duck liver a food."
John Burton pushed the law in the California legislature and was even backed by some chefs including Wolfgang Puck. Burton dismisses critics who say the feeding process known as gavage is not harmful although he admits he's never seen it done in person. Burton says, "I know what I'm banning. I'm banning putting tubes down ducks and geese throats and forcing food into them to their esophagus. That's what I'm banning. I don't have to see it to know that."
The ban is not just impacting chefs that want to serve foie gras, the biggest impact is actually on the one family in California that actually makes the product at a farm near Stockton.
Guillermo Gonzalez has been making foie gras here for 26 years. He's now losing his business. He says, "No, I'm not angry. I'm sad. I'm sad and I'm offended."
Offended because he says people don't understand how foie is made. He says the feeding mimics the gorging the animals do in the wild before they migrate. They have no gag reflex and can store a lot of food in their esophagus before digesting it. Gonzalez says, "The key to obtain the best results is to take the best care of the animals from day one until the last day."
The last days are now here for Guillermo and his wife Junny's business. They say the new law forced them to shut down.
Back at his restaurant ink, Michael Voltaggio finds the debate hypocritical. He sees little difference between serving foie gras or most beef and chicken. He says, "I don't know that any animal enjoys the process that it goes thru from being out in the field to ending up on someone's plate."
Diners in California have just 11 days before this particular duck dish disappears.