I’ve eaten at Gramercy Tavern, and if I were a chicken, I wouldn’t mind feasting on the scraps from the New York City restaurant’s kitchen. That might seem like an odd statement, but there are chickens living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania that are being fed the scraps from restaurants like Gramercy, Per Se, and Daniel – all some of the city’s most exclusive dining establishments.

Why? According to The New York Times, the restaurants are in pursuit of tastier chickens, and they believe that diet is the key. To achieve this, the restaurants are sending specific scraps two and a half hours away to an Amish farm. The free-range chickens that are getting the four-star restaurant treatment will eventually end up on the plates of the four-star restaurant patrons. Until they do, they’ll eat like the NYC elite.

Right now, the chickens all mingle together – the ones headed for Gramercy Tavern socializing with the ones headed for Per Se. Eventually, they’ll be segregated. The chickens headed for the various restaurants will be kept apart from each other and only fed scraps from the restaurants where they’ll eventually become part of the menu.

David Burke, chef and owner of David Burke Townhouse says he’ll be experimenting with trying to get the poultry to have specific flavors based on what they’re being fed. He wants to try to “influence the flavor of the meat by throwing in mushrooms, celery root, pumpkin seeds, pretzel bread and maybe figs for sweetness.”

The whole things sounds very elitist, and it sort of is, except that the concept really isn’t. The fact that these chickens are being raised for the most expensive restaurants in New York City means that only a certain part of the population – the elite - will be able to enjoy them. But, the concept of feeding chickens kitchen scraps and allowing them to roam free is the way chickens were raised up until factory farming came along. It’s the way chickens should be raised, and the fact that this concept is elitist says a lot about our current food system and how upside down it’s become.

I like this idea. Perhaps it will be a huge success and help to be an instrument in the process of changing our factory food system. You never know what will catch on. The two-and-a-half-hour trip from NYC to Lancaster is problematic, but the idea as a whole is appealing as a real food advocate and a real food lover.

What do you think of concept?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

The most pampered poultry on the planet
Chickens fed the scraps from some of New York City’s most exclusive restaurants will end up back to those restaurants on the menu for the elite to eat.