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Top Chefs Shun Shark Fin Soup, But You Can Still Get it Anyway

We’ve just had a couple big foot chefs–Alice Waters and Scott Boswell– shun shark fin soup, but a quick check around shows it’s still common in most American cities. Shame works when a celebrity chef gets linked with shark finning, the hideous way fins are hacked off a live shark, which is then thrown back to die, decimating shark populations worldwide. But what about the 56 restaurants in New York City that still serve shark fin? Or San Francisco’s 69 shark fin restaurants?

A search on New York Magazine‘s Menu Pages reveals how easy it is to find shark fin soup around the country. New York City has 56 restaurants serving shark fin. 35 restaurants serve shark fin soup. Three are vegetarian–meaning it’s mock shark fin soup.

Not surprisingly, the biggest hunk–20–are in Chinatown.But they’re all over the city, not just in restaurants only frequented by Chinese diners. Shanghai, near Macy’s, serves five versions ranging from $33-$41. The Upper East Side’s Our Place has a bowl for $12. A place near China Town sells it by the quart for take-out. >In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, East Harbor Seafood Palace features a whole shark-fin soup category on its menu, with options from $55-$75.

  • San Francisco: 69 restaurants serving shark fin, 4 vegetarian
  • Los Angeles: 31 shark fin-serving restaurants. (The swanky Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills has imitation shark. Pacific Coast Highway Chinese Restaurant has a whole menu division of the real thing.)
  • Philadelphia: 11 shark fin purveyors, 4 vegetarian
  • Boston: 9 shark fin restaurants
  • Chicago: 10 shark fin restaurants, including Young’s Restaurant in Wrigleyville
  • Washington, D.C.: 10 shark fin restaurants, including downtown’s expensive Tony Cheng’s and Wu’s Garden in Vienna, which bills it as “a soup for special occasions.”
  • South Florida: 6, including 2 in South Beach

Photos courtesy of the Shark Alliance. Fins on deck © Enric Sala
Here’s how the vow to eschew shark fin soup usually comes about. A famous chef or restaurant gets tied to shark fin soup.
Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters mentioned she’d want it as her last meal. A story about Stella! in New Orleans cites the dish. Disgust ensues. Suddenly the chef reads up on finning–the way fins are chopped off from live shark, wasting 95% of its body and contributing to the slaughter of about 100 million sharks a year. Some Atlantic populations are down 80% in the last 15 years, according to Shark Trust. (How did Waters not hear of this? Didn’t she ever watch Shark Week?) Then Scott Boswell pulls the soup and Waters swears it off.)

There are movements to ban shark finning internationally–making fishermen bring the whole shark to shore. The House passed a bill < /a>tightening U.S. restrictions, but it’s waiting for the Senate. But that makes shark fishing more difficult and soup more expensive. But what will lower the demand?

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