Pork Switch Leaves Bad Taste at Eatery

San Jose, Calif. / Feb. 25, 2000 (Reuters) -- The district attorney's office is investigating a case of haute cuisine high jinks in which a top chef has admitted serving pork in the guise of veal because he felt the high-priced meat was too tough.

Gary Kjolhaug, chef at the fashionable Bella Mia restaurant, told the San Jose Mercury News earlier this week that he has been making the switch for the past five years because pork resulted in a superior scaloppini and parmigiana.

"I don't know where it's going to go," Kjolhaug said. "I'm leaving it in God's hands."

Restaurant owner Bill Carlson, who was unaware of the swap, has suspended the chef but the Santa Clara County district attorney is now investigating allegations of false representation.

"We wouldn't be doing an investigation if we didn't have something," Al Bender, chief of the district attorney's Consumer Protection Unit, told the paper on Thursday.

The restaurant tried to contain the situation by hiring a publicity firm and contacting local synagogues in efforts to apologize to people whose religion prevents them from eating pork.

The restaurant has also removed veal from the menu and will compensate customers who were fed the faux veal.

"I am surprised that I didn't know about it sooner than this," Carlson told the local radio. "I am offering compensation to anyone who believes they ate one of those veal dishes."

Some took the switch in their stride but others were not satisfied with the offer of a free meal.

Narjes Misherghi, president of the Islamic Society of Stanford University, said patrons, especially those with dietary restrictions due to religious beliefs, should sue Bella Mia.

"When you go to a restaurant, there is a basic trust that you will get what you ask for," she told the Mercury News. "That trust has been broken."

Copyright © 2008 Sandy Campbell. All rights reserved.