Chef Michael Hunter had endured weeks of protests from vegans outside his restaurant before deciding to really give ’em something to cry about.
“I figured, I’ll show them,” Hunter told reporters.
The owner of Antler Kitchen & Bar in Toronto took to butchering a beautiful, deep-red leg of venison in his restaurant window for all the demonstrators to see.
“I’m going to have my own protest,” he said.
Antler caught the attention of the vegans late last year when the staff wrote “Venison is the new kale” on a chalkboard in front of the establishment. The rib infuriated dog-walker turned vegan activist Marni Ugar who began staging demonstrations in front of Antler.
She gathered six people last Thursday bearing signs that read slogans like “speciesism = discrimination = injustice.” Ugar and her fellow soy-folk wanted to make a statement that chef Hunter’s pasture-raised, hormone-free meat served at Antler was no more ethical than commercial meat.
Hunter acquiesced to advertising vegan dishes to please the small gathering of unhappy detractors, but the disruption continued. “The goal always is for a restaurant to go fully vegan,” Ugar told the Globe and Mail. “To reduce the animals they kill, for me, isn’t good enough.”
As the months went by, Hunter began to worry the protesters were hurting his business. “I just felt helpless,” the chef explains. “It’s hurting our business. I hoped it would fizzle out and go away.” This past Friday the radical activists began shouting “murderer” anytime the door swung open.
Hunter had enough and the entrepreneur brought the leg of a deer into his front window. He then artfully broke it down in front of the shocked vegans with the knife-skill of a master butcher.
“Is this legal?!” a vegan can be heard asking on video made of the encounter.
“As you can see the owner has brought the leg of a recently murdered animal to a dining table at the front of the restaurant to actually taunt the activists,” said a flabbergasted activist outside Antler taunting the business with a large banner reading “Murder.”
The police were summoned but no charges were filed.
Chef Hunter was pleased with his peaceful counter-protest but added, “I felt like they got to me and I played into them.” Ugar emailed Hunter proposing to limit the protests to once a month on the condition that a sign would be placed in Antler’s window saying that animals have rights and killing them is wrong. The chef refused, but offered to cook them an exclusive vegan tasting menu and bring them on a foraging trip. The vegans declined.
The viral video has caused Antler to have a generous boost in reservations.
Watch the video below
feature image: Chef Michael Hunter, via Foodservice and Hospitality Magazine