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Recipes minus 1 ingredient

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've come across many home cooks that refuse to divulge their cooking "secrets." I even sat at a dinner party recently where I liked something in particular and asked the host how she prepared it. She began to tell me and her father slapped his hand on the table and angrily said "we don't share our family recipies." I know this is an extreme case but is this something you have ever encountered or is this something you practice yourself? If so why???? I'm more than happy to let people in on my recipies, I don't feel like they're taking anything away from me.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 25
it really all depends on who im sharing the recipe with... most the time ill give out all the ingredients, but you should always have secrets.

the other day my friend came to me and asked for the recipe for one of my special soups that i made when i was the sous chef at my last job and he was my line cook. He just started really getting into the cooking industry so he had a lot to learn back then. One day i was making the soup and he asked me for the recipe then and i told him how to make it and all the ingredients, me not caring cuz i knew he wouldnt ever remember... and obviously he didnt cuz now hes hounding me for the recipe and i just like messin with him lol.

ill end up giving it to him for a favor eventually... :D
post #3 of 25
To friends and family I freely give recipes.
To customers, coworkers, etc., I'll either give them a verbal recipe full of as many technical culinary terms as I can muster, or just give them an ingredient list.

I often get annoyed looks when the conversation unfolds like this:

Them "It says red bell pepper. How much?"
Me "How ever much you want. If you like red bells, you can put more, if you don't, less or none".
Them "What about tarragon, how much?"
Me "Do you love tarragon? If so, you can use more than if you don't love it".
And on and on......
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #4 of 25
To me, this is total insecurity on the part of the Pro. Chef.
The only bad thing for me is I prepare real large amounts and when a friend of my wife calls to ask a question re. prep for 2 or 3 ,I cant give them exact amounts but I do tell them all ingredients and how I do it, and what to use instead if they are alergic to something or cant get it.
CHEFED
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post #5 of 25
No, I'm just a jerk at times for my own amusement.
:p
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #6 of 25
Jim !!
The way I look at it someone was good enough to show or tell me, so let me pass it on to the next generation to.
CHEFED
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post #7 of 25
Ed, you'll note that I freely give recipes to friends and family.
Everyone else gets the recipe, but in the fashion I choose to give it to them.
The technical version goes to customers, to keep them thinking we are magicians, and the ingredient list version goes to coworkers, who should have enough talent to make the dish with only that info.
:beer:
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #8 of 25
Actually it's exactly how I cook, with a list of ingredients and no exact amounts. Once the essential ingredients are there everything else is a matter of taste. It's like adding roux. You can feel the proper consistency.

Add however much cheddar you want to your cheddar biscuits, but don't tell me there's no baking powder, and if you can't make a basic biscuit, no recipe will help anyways. And... if you can't work the butter in by hand and feel what a proper dough feels like after a few tries then you're probably never going to get it.

When I first started cooking I went to work and came home and created my own culinary school at home. I worked at it until it came out right, then I went to work and showed my new skill to chef. No recipe required. :)
post #9 of 25
Since I have been working in an R&D lab and I do a TON of match work I have instinctively become more secretive since I make a living taking apart and disecting peoples formulas and recipes. In my past restaurant life I gave anyone a recipe that asked....:D
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #10 of 25
Now, kids -- play nice. :lol:

When home cooks refuse to share a full recipe, I think that's just mean. It would never come out the same in any case, so why intentionally try to make it fail? But as has been pointed out, it can be hard to give someone a specific recipe, because who ever writes it down exactly as we make it? I certainly don't. In fact, sometimes I can't even remember for myself what I put in it; how could I tell someone else, then? :confused:

I just found a cake recipe of my mother's that gave the absolute minimum of information: list of ingredients and their measurements, time to bake, oven temp -- and one instruction of how to layer the batter with the (nonlisted) ingredients. That recipe assumed you knew how to mix up a cake batter, prepare the pan -- even know what pan to use -- and that you'd figure out what you needed that was NOT in the ingredient list. Now, if I were giving that recipe to someone who didn't know all that other stuff, I would explain it all. After all, if they like the cake enough to want to make it, and it's not a recipe I depend upon for my livelihood, I might as well be helpful.

When I was a line cook, we had books of the chef's recipes that we were expected to follow. If anyone wanted to copy them out to keep on their station, that was fine. It was assumed that we wouldn't take them out of the restaurant. But it is a little hazier with professional recipes, since they might be "works for hire" that belong to the restaurant, or might belong to the chef. I might describe them to someone else, but I would never give them the actual full formula and method. That would be unethical. I even had to sign a nondisclose agreement at one place; that was okay(in any case, I never liked those recipes enough to want to share them -- not even the ones I created :rolleyes:). So if anyone ever asked, I could tell them that I couldn't tell them. Period.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #11 of 25
Why? ..........
Lance
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Lance
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post #12 of 25
On a recent trip through the Southwest, I found and bought a littlecookbook that purports to give the recipes for the last 45 or so first-prize winners at the World Championship Chili Cookoff held annually in Terlingua, in the Big Bend country of Texas.

Knowing some chili contest participants, I can't believe many of these people gave their real recipes for publication to the whole world. But the recipes are fun to try, and mostly pretty good. I have to add beans, since I like them in my chili and they're prohibited in competition chili.

One interesting thing is that the great majority of chilis include Gebhardt's Chili Powder, which is ubiquitous in Texas but really hard to find up north. I had to bring a supply back from our last visit to Lubbock. It's good stuff, and is available online.

We attended the 2000 Terlingua cookoff (not as participants) and heartily recommend it if you're in the vicinity around the first week of November. You will need your own RV, since there's not a lot of accomodations in Terlingua.:D

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #13 of 25
>>>>>>gave their real recipes

you could give 1,000 people the real recipe and only one or two would duplicate the result.

it is not a silly contention. if you think people have trouble describing what is a burger and what is a sandwich, try "....brown the meat......"
post #14 of 25
I spent a lot of time tweaking a published rugelah recipe, making it my own. When I baked it for a local deli, I listed the ingredients but not the method. I don't kid myself that a CIA-trained, experienced chef like the deli owner couldn't figure out how to make them, but it felt right to be a bit less specific. I was considering basing a little baking business around that pastry until my health prevented it.

I've given that recipe to many friends since then. As several people noted, just because you give them the recipe, it doesn't mean they'll make it successfully or at all.

Chefhow, I'd think it'd be cause for dismissal if you shared what you learn in your work outside the jobsite.
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***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
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post #15 of 25
i dont like to give everything away to just anyone, people are backstabbers sometimes and will use your ideas/recipes for their own gain... not saying everyone is but ive been a witness to it, so i choose carefully whom i share things with.

people also say if you take someones recipe and just change one thing, it in turn becomes your recipe.. but isnt that almost just like vanilla ice???

but either way i look at the whole ordeal as its not the recipe that makes the food taste good, its the person cooking the food.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
I think there is a distinction between a home cook and a restaurant chef. There may be some ethical issues when sharing recipes of a chef you work for, but perhaps giving an ingredient list would be ok. But for the home cook to guard their prized recipe just seems a little bit illogical to me. What are they afraid of exactly? That I'm going to recreate their recipe and steal their thunder? Isn't food meant to be shared? I can't think of anything more gratifying than someone telling me "Hey, I tried your recipe for _______ last week and it was a big hit!" When someone likes a dish I prepare and they ask for the recipe I always tell them what I put in it and perhaps a few pointers on specifics. I wouldn't go into long detail at my dinner party unless it was someone that really shared my passion for cooking... otherwise I'd bore my guests with technicalities.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 25
to others chefs that I'm running ideas through....it's normally ratios and techniques.

Normal day in day out cooking has no set recipes, yes for some baked goods just because I don't make them often.....but they are coming from a cookbook and probably getting rifted in the making.....

It takes time, making a dish with measuring tools and a clock to time shtuff....frankly I'm not into writing recipes just for the heck of it. If I'm teaching or publishing sure, but not just because someone wants it... that's actually something that I make $ doing.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #18 of 25
Why go through all the trouble of explaining a bunch of crap to people who most time either 1) never attempt it 2) screw it up anyway, or 3) Probably wont even remember 5 minutes after they ask you unless they write it down and who wants to go through all that?? Humbug i say mumble half the ingredients and then continue on with what your doing.
post #19 of 25
We have a meat market here that used to have really great home made hot dogs. Everyone bought hot dogs there because they were the best. All of a sudden they weren't good any more and no one knew why until the subject came up one day in the neighborhood watering hole. Everybody was whining about the hot dogs weren't good anymore and one guy piped up and said you could get those dogs at another meat market because the guy whose recipe it is quit the place and went somewhere else. Seems the recipe was brought over from Poland by an ancestor of his and was a closely guarded family secret. He would never tell his bosses the recipe. So if you want those dogs, you need to go to whatever market he's at. Great job security for him. We also have a bakery here that makes such good donuts that they drove Crispy Creme out when they came here. I would never dream of asking either party for their recipes. They are a valuable asset to them that makes their businesses unique. I have a barbecue sauce recipe I will not give out. There's a possibility I may market it one day and all I need is someone suing over it saying it's their recipe. How could I prove I had it first? We actually have a situation like that going on now. There was a fish restaurant here that was very well known and noted for their tartar sauce. The place is gone now, but toward the end they were marketing their tartar sauce under the restaurant name. Meanwhile, the granddaughter of the cook who developed the sauce for the restaurant is marketing the sauce under the cook's name, so they're sueing back and forth because the cook never signed anything making the restaurant sole proprietor of the formula, and the restaurant claims the other party is capitalising on their former fame. Everybody in town knows the recipe anyway because everyone worked there at one time or another. My recipes that I developed are mine and I don't give them out. If I leave a place, my recipes go with me. Recipes that came from a publication I will give out and leave with a place when I go. Whether a person gives out their recipes or not is up to them and should not reflect badly on them if they choose not to share. I have a sister who makes great salsa. If you want some, she'll make it for you, but she won't give out the recipe because she claims it's the one thing she can do better than the rest of us.
post #20 of 25
What about the person who does attempt it but has been given misinformation. They are out the cost of the ingredients and their time.

If you don't want to take the time to give the recipe, have the consideration of being honest. It is deceptive, mean and unethical to lie, which is what one is doing when one says one has provided the accurate recipe but has, in fact, left ingredients out on purpose.
post #21 of 25
I can understnd not divulging a secret formula, like Coca Cola, or Kfc where you are in a business that depends on the recipe for revenue. But I cant see why if one is not involved with actually making money on this thing why not share it. Again if you are useing it to derive direct revenue ok if not hog wash. And if you are deriving revenue, I suggsest it be copywrighted and registered in the U.S patent office.
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post #22 of 25
My grandma refuses to give out her recipes, and it saddens me because when she dies (and she's healthy but she's in her 90s!) her wonderful cooking will die with her! I have made some decent replicas of some of her recipes but honestly - for me, it's an HONOR to share a recipe with someone who loved my food enough to ask for it and sincerely want to make it again so I don't understand that thinking.
I've also come across this kind of thing in some of the women's groups I've belonged to over the years. IMO it comes across as snobbery, kind of like Bree on Desperate Housewives lol...like, I get it that you don't want someone else copying your recipes and claiming to be the original, but please!
Oh well...
post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 
Wow JillyG, that's exactly what I mean by starting this thread. What good is a secret family recipe if it doesn't get passed down through the family?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #24 of 25
Personally, if someone loves something I made that much, I'll give them the recipe.

Like other people have said, more often than not it is about taste and technique rather than an exact recipe, especially regarding savoury dishes (I only ever give a basic list of ingredients and method anyway), but when it comes down to a really good patisserie item, the recipe is definitely as important as the technique.

Example: after cooking professionally for over a decade, I only recently came across what I consider to be the ultimate chocolate cake recipe (see my blog: www.kiwisizzler.wordpress.com). I've shared this recipe with loads of people.

Strangely though, as I enjoy photography, when someone recently asked me to email them the full-sized digital versions of some of my photos, I found myself very reluctant to oblige, and this person is an old friend. Maybe it is because it is a personal thing as opposed to something I got from someone else? I anticipate maybe making money from my photos one day and even though I already make money from being a good cook, which is basically the same thing, I am happy to share recipes.

In hindsight, I have been very lucky to have worked with chefs who have been happy to share a great recipe with me, so maybe this has instilled in me a similar response when I am asked.
Kiwisizzler's blog

Good food is food that tastes of what it is!
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Kiwisizzler's blog

Good food is food that tastes of what it is!
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post #25 of 25
Just my 2 cents worth as a home cook, but if I'm asked for a recipe, and its for a dish I "created" myself, I'd give it out IF I liked the person asking. If it's a recipe I made out of a published cook book, why not give it. I take no credit (other than the baking/cooking obviously) for being able to follow a recipe. Having said that, if I "tweaked" a published recipe, I would add a note to the recipe saying I increased/decreased, ommitted/added whatever. As an aside, growing up, my Grandma lived with us. She wasn't much of a cook or baker; but she made a Pfeffernuss cookie that we all loved. She kept her recipe on a note card on top of the refrigerator along with a recipe for a walnut cookie that we also enjoyed. The first Christmas after she passed away, we tried to find her recipes and, if I'm lying I'm dying, the two cards were nowhere to be found. Many recipes were tried over the years to recreate her cookies, all to no avail. That was 40 yrs ago. While house sitting for a neighbor during the holidays two or so years back, I saw on her table some of what appeared to be the same Pfeffernuss cookies. I tried one and sure enough. She was kind enough to share her Grandma's recipe with me and it's been on my cookie list ever since. I found a walnut cookie recipe in one of my books this past Christmas and it's pretty darned close to Grandma's (a little more cinnamon, but I'll adjust that next season :).
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