Chef Dez.

Chef Dez.

On Cooking: Thoughts on live lobster boiling

Switzerland planning to ban the boiling of live lobsters.

The best way for cooking almost all foods is from the freshest possible ingredients.

Seafood, is no different, and, if anything, even more imperative to do so for premium texture and flavour.

With shellfish specifically, it has been long-standing tradition in the chef’s world to cook from live whenever possible to be assured of optimal guaranteed freshness. Thus, recently, when it was announced that Switzerland is planning to ban the boiling of live lobsters, it caught my attention.

Upon further investigation, supposedly this practice of boiling live lobsters has already been banned in New Zealand for close to two decades.

So why has this recently been brought to the forefront of Swiss law? In my opinion, it has been just a matter of time for this topic to be in the news (and the law) again.

I believe we are in better times, when we are generally more aware of how animals are treated in the process of being prepared for the journey to the marketplace, and ultimately our dinner table.

Making sure cattle, pigs, lamb, and chickens, for example, have a good life and are killed humanely are of the utmost importance with many more people than ever before.

However, where do we draw the line?

Can we honestly say that the humane treatment of a cow going to butcher is of the same importance and concern of a lobster being boiled alive?

I don’t think we need our government to decide in legal rulings what we can or can’t do in our kitchens, but I appreciate stories like this keeping me more conscious of my actions.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that I will stop boiling live lobsters, but my overall consciousness of respect for living creatures has been heightened, and that is never a bad thing.

However, I honestly don’t believe that crustaceans have the same feelings, or central nervous system, as mammals do, and thus how can we treat them in the same respect?

If we care, to this degree, in the ethical treatment of lobsters, then it could also be argued that all crustaceans, including crabs, crayfish, and prawns, for example, should be treated with the same respect and recognition.

Then if we are honoring all crustaceans in this manner, then what about the feelings of mollusks like cephalopods, such as octopus and squid, or bivalves, such as clams, mussels and oysters?

Aren’t they living creatures, as well, and the treatment of them should also be considered when it comes time for harvesting and preparation?

Quite literally, food for thought.

But I think you can understand how this discussion could be never ending.

In the meantime, happy cooking.

Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host. Visit