When Kim Côté introduced a seal burger to his restaurant’s menu in 2012, he probably wasn’t expecting that he’d be getting death threats over a year later because of it.
The Phoque Bardot burger — an $18 burger made of seal meat and topped with a piece of foie gras — is named as such because, a) “seal” is “phoque” in French and b) French actress and anti-seal hunt activist Brigitte Bardot has long led a boycott of Canadian products.
Côté, the owner and chef of restaurant Côté-Est in Kamouraska, Que., said it was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek joke — but French tourists visiting his restaurant didn’t find it very funny.
In September, the link to his restaurant was posted to a Facebook group called, in French, “Defend animals and nature,” which boasts over 400,000 "likes." The link was paired with a comment that the burger was made of the “meat of massacred baby seals.”
And so the death threats rolled in. The restaurant’s Facebook page was flooded with comments, private messages, insults, as well as threats to the restaurant and to the owner’s well-being.
“We called the police to let them know what was happening. You never know, they are extremists. To go so far as to send death threats, threats to come damage our restaurant… it’s pretty intense,” Côté said.
Côté, who is a hunter himself, doesn’t see what the big deal is. He said the meat is inspected by federal agents and is legal for sale.
He took down the restaurant’s Facebook page temporarily, but the page has since been reinstated. The Phoque Bardot burger is still on the menu.