Following this winter’s avian flu epizootic, restaurants in Aude are having trouble getting supplies of ducks. One more complication in the land of cassoulet, when international tourists are back.
The bird flu crisis is felt even on our plates. The still incipient shortage of duck is worrying restaurant owners in Carcassonne. For the time being, it is impossible to estimate the losses. “It’s still too early” according to Thierry Deniau, president of the Union of trades and industries of the hotel industry of Aude. For Pierre Mesa, chef of the Comte Roger restaurant, there will be no duck this summer “probably from June and especially in August”. Restaurant owners must adapt to this situation, in addition to the lack of staff and the increase in the price of oil and other raw materials. For Laurent Dubois, owner of the Round Table, “without cassoulet, tourists do not come to the restaurant”.
The avian influenza crisis led to the slaughter of 16 million poultry throughout France. Marc Tardieu, producer at Gaec du Bérengou in Mezerville, is faced with this problem: “I don’t have a duck at the moment, I will have my first batch of ducklings on July 20 and I will be able to resubmit my ducks from mid-October”. The poultry farmer buys his ducklings from a Vendée company, greatly weakened by the epizootic. “I will receive 400 ducks instead of 2,000. And again, at the last moment we can be told no”he says.
For the moment, the restaurateurs are in the dark. “I have just made my orders for next month, I just have to wait but we will not receive all of them”, says Farid Benighil, chef at the Grande Brasserie in the City. In return, those who can stock up but don’t think it’s enough. This is the case of the restaurants Le Cachotier, Comte Roger or even La Table Ronde which consider “be able to last between one and two months”.
The restaurants on the wire are a priori limited in terms of alternatives. Changing the menu seems complicated because duck is a specialty of Southwestern cuisine. Laurent Dubois explains that “this dish represents 50 to 90% of our turnover; changing the menu means completely rethinking the restaurant and it is not sure that it will work”. Thus, the owner relies on his preserves and imports: “Although the quality is less, the duck from Bulgaria is still a spare wheel”. However, solutions exist. For example, Stéphane Tavenart, chef at Le 37 establishment, is thinking of replacing duck with lamb for the cassoulet “because it exists“.
Despite the general shortage, some manage to slip through the cracks. This is the case of the Trivalou establishment. Manager Cyril Requi says “have what it takes”. “I recently received five foie gras and five duck breasts from Mexicots [son fournisseur, NDLR]”. According to the chef, small structures would be spared because short circuit networks would prioritize the most loyal customers of which he is a part: “We are always on the phone, we try to arrange because we know each other well”. Nevertheless, he qualifies: “I try to do well, but we are not immune”.