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Take My Recipes and Run?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Hello friends...

I recently put my notice in at my restaurant so I work at another restaurant, more money, better schedule, all good things.

Is there a general consensus as to what is the appropriate action for the recipes I created/brought to my current restaurant? I'm kind of on the fence about this one right now, I'm leaning towards taking the recipes with me and letting them start from scratch or fend for themselves. Is there an industry standard that no one ever bothered to fill me in on?

Thanks much!
:thumb:
post #2 of 30
If they're 100% yours, like you came up with them yourself alone, I'd say take em. If you worked on them with someone else, I might leave those ones. I'm from Grand Rapids too! lol
post #3 of 30
I'm pretty sure any recipes that you created while in their employ are the property of the restaurant. What possible gain is there in taking them? All that achieves is a burnt bridge because of an unprofessional act by you. Be happy with your new and improved job.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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post #4 of 30
:( Back in the '50's & '60's when everyone served fish on Fridays everyone was using Drake's mix for Fish & Chips (which by the way is made in Michigan) I didn't like the rust color of the finished product. So, I started using self-rising flour and and Egg Shade for a base mix then added the seasonings that I wanted to get a golden brown color.Because Egg Shade is a liquid and flour is a powder I could not pre-mix it. Like I could today by using Amarillo Coloring ( which is FD&C Yellow#5 and FD&C Red#40)from the Hispanic Store that they use instead of Saffron. " I could have packaged it and made a fortune" Soon everyone knew where I was working because of the color and flavor of the Fish & Chips and Onion Rings. At one place we sold over a ton of cod fish.We didn't have " a Kitchen Bible" in those days when the Chef ran the Kitchen instead of the General Manager like nowadays. So, when the Chef quit he took his preparation procedures with him. Just because you have a different idea of how to prepare something while working somewhere dosen't mean those procedures belong to that "House." (" What possible gain is there in taking them?They Are Your Ideas.")("All that achieves is a burnt bridge because of an unprofessional act by you." Ideas is what seperates the Professional Chefs for "cookbook cooks"):mad:
post #5 of 30
:( Back in the '50's & '60's when everyone served fish on Fridays everyone was using Drake's mix for Fish & Chips (which by the way is made in Michigan) I didn't like the rust color of the finished product. So, I started using self-rising flour and and Egg Shade for a base mix then added the seasonings that I wanted to get a golden brown color.Because Egg Shade is a liquid and flour is a powder I could not pre-mix it. Like I could today by using Amarillo Coloring ( which is FD&C Yellow#5 and FD&C Red#40)from the Hispanic Store that they use instead of Saffron. " I could have packaged it and made a fortune" Soon everyone knew where I was working because of the color and flavor of the Fish & Chips and Onion Rings. At one place we sold over a ton of cod fish.We didn't have " a Kitchen Bible" in those days when the Chef ran the Kitchen instead of the General Manager like nowadays. So, when the Chef quit he took his preparation procedures with him. Just because you have a different idea of how to prepare something while working somewhere dosen't mean those procedures belong to that "House." (" What possible gain is there in taking them?They Are Your Ideas.")("All that achieves is a burnt bridge because of an unprofessional act by you." Ideas is what seperates the Professional Chefs for "cookbook cooks"):mad::chef:
post #6 of 30
I left all my soup recipes with a restaurant many years ago. Didn't care then, don't now. No one else made soup like I did even when following my recipe. I still have copies of them either in my head or actually written down (somewhere round here). After the owner had fired me she had my sister (who still worked for her) call and ask me for my Clam Chowder recipe cause the other cook she fired stole it out of the recipe book on his way out.
lol, the irony still makes me laugh. My sister told me a couple weeks back that if my wife promised to never go back to her restaurant she would hire me back as her lead cook.:rolleyes:
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #7 of 30
This is correct.
Doing otherwise shows a lack of integrity.
Moreso because you are leaving of your own accord, rather than being sacked.
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 30
Who the recipes belong to is a bit of a gray area. If you signed a contract when you were hired then it probably states that the recipes belong to the "House". If not, then it is a matter of professionalism. The professional thing to do is to leave your recipes intact (but take copies for your own files). If the place has really pissed you off, maybe screwed you over somehow and you don't care about burnt bridges, then take them. But this is really a last resort. Again, the professional thing to do is leave them. I have left hundreds of recipes behind over my career. If your recipes are so special to you that you always want to take them w/ you when you move on then you should open your own place.
Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
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Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
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post #9 of 30
Disclaimer: This isn't legal advice, and should not be construed as such.

So far the advice in this thread is of mixed accuracy.

Not as a matter of pointing fingers, but only to distinguish the various analyses and prescriptions, Cater Chef and chefincollege are entirely wrong.

Theages
is wrong insofar as saying it's a grey area, and insofar as advising you take your recipes under certain conditions. On the other hand, his point that a writing might control the situation is a good one.

It's not a grey area at all. Rather it's one or a combination of several situations determined by the actual facts:

Different bright-line rules may govern depending on the facts -- in this case the only real questions are whether or not there's a contract or employment agreement; and if there is, what it says on the subject. Under almost any imaginable set of circumstances, taking the recipes would be suicidal.

Is there a writing?


Since you're asking here, it seems likely that if there is a written agreement, it's either silent on the subject or you don't have a copy. If you there is a written agreement, and you don't have a copy, it's almost certain that you didn't write it -- so if there is a codicil, it's almost certainly in the employer's favor.

As to the rest of it:

It's highly unlikely your recipes are actually intellectual property (IP) which can be "owned" or copyrighted.

Case law is clear that an ingredient list and set of spare instructions cannot be protected. On the other hand, "literary content" of the sort you see in cookbooks for home cooks, such as descriptions of technique, discussions about ingredients , or narratives of how the recipe came about is intellectual property and is governed by copyright.

But none of the things which can make a recipe IP are very common in restaurant recipes -- which tend to be terse and to the point. So, no matter who created them or when they were created -- which would be of material interest if they were IP -- they're almost certainly not your property.

Most likely, what we're actually talking about are "trade secrets," and/or "proprietary knowledge." Unless you have a contract saying otherwise it's likely the employer has all the rights governing them, and they stay with the employer when and if you leave.

If you don't have an individual contract, but the employer uses a form "employment agreement," it's likely there is a "non-compete" clause. If so, you may be barred from taking the recipes with you to any other employer (within a reasonable geographic radius).

Outside of normal ethics, which I see as being lined up on the side of not causing harm to your employer:

If you do take your recipes from your current employer causing her or him economic harm, (s)he has legal remedies which would force you to cure whatever harm your act caused by paying for the economic damages.

Bottom Line:

Unless there's something you're not telling us, you have no rights in this situation.

Make two copies of all your recipes, put them in separate binders, and make a big deal of turning one of them over to your current employer when you leave.

If you have legal questions, consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.


BDL
What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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post #10 of 30
I like this.
Not only doesn't it burn the bridge, it will actually act as a flame retardant.
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 #11 of 30
I like the idea of copying them and giving one set to your current employer. When I left the cafe I left my soup and chili recipes for them, and the ones that I really liked I made copies of and took them with me. Most of them were either created by me or brought in by me and I didn't want to leave on bad terms, so I just did it. You never know when you're going to need a reference....
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #12 of 30
I was just guessing, and now reading the responses I really like the idea of leaving a copy and taking a copy.
post #13 of 30
Yesterday's menu is yesterday's news. The challenge as I see it when cooking is to continually develop yourself and new ideas. I find this bloody hard at times (I write weekly menus and I'm buggered if I'm going to repeat them) but nevertheless I sit in my office every Thursday with several dozen cookbooks and the google homepage open, and I develop the next weeks menus. I'll admit to using others ideas, but I always try to add my own take on them. I look back at menus I did a year ago and what strikes me is how far my food has progressed since then, that's a good feeling:chef:
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #14 of 30
:( How do you write something down that has never been written down by anyone?
The preparation procedures I learned as an apprentice is what I use to make stocks, soups, sauces and entrees. I have had many employers ask me to leave the recipes and I have tell them there aren't any and never will be. I have trained many chefs and I am sure that they will never write down what I taught them.
If you are hired as a Research and Develpment Chef for Kraft Foods or any company then that's different that is what you were hired for.
I have built a lot business for restaurants and hotels and when they didn't meet our agreement and when I decided to leave they lost the added business I built and sometime it took three people to replace me, Did I feel bad? No! they are the ones that broke the agreement. Preparation procedures are not recipes or formulas. It's hands on experience learned from experinced Chefs. New ideas are from the brain and you can't copyright that. That why a lot of the new generation chefs food tastes like crap, they never learned how to flavor food, they only learned how to read a recipe.:mad:
post #15 of 30
The OP is obviously talking about recipes that were written down and used on a regular basis.
If they were merely recipes in the head there is no discussion.
He's not asking if he should leave his head when he departs.
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 #16 of 30
Initially that was confusing, Jim. When I first read the OP I didn't understand the problem, because it wasn't clear he was talking about written-down recipes, rather than merely recipes he'd developed.

Let me throw this into the mix, fwiw. All other issues aside (such as possible contractual obligations), if the recipes were written down on the job, using the restaurant's stationary, then they belong to the restaurant. The only thing of intrinsic value is the paper. To take those receipes would be no different than walking off with the robot coupe or other equipment.

Now a question for Arsenic: Why, exactly, would you want to leave the old people in the lurch, like that? Maybe you're irked right now, for whatever reason. But do you really want to create that kind of ill will? Wherever you are, professional food service is a small community; do you want the word to go out that you behaved that way? Could have long-term consequences in terms of career development.

Whether or not there are legal and ethical issues, I would think long and hard before "letting them start from scratch or fend for themselves."
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #17 of 30
The way I interpretted it they were written copies.
Unwritten recipes would only be an issue if the restaurant had requested they be written down before departure, which is a reasonable request, but one in which the OP has no obligation to fulfill.
In an unwritten situation, after a period of time, the originator of the recipes will have passed many if not all of them along orally.
The recipient of these oral recipes will do one of two things, remember what they're told or write them down.
Once written they shouldn't be retrieved.
In the case where the recipient keeps them in their head, the originator can't perform a labotomy, the recipes will remain.
The one other way is for the originator to stand there and say "okay, now add 1/4 cup of flour.....now add 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder", etc.
I find it hard to believe any Chef is passing along recipes in this fashion for any real length of time.

The OP should leave whatever is there as his legacy.
I'm sure any recipe he leaves for them can also be improved if he uses them at his next venture.
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 #18 of 30
I find this to be an excellent conversation about our profession! It explores our perspectives of professionalism, creativity and ownership, the importance of a Chef to an establishment's success, personal integrity (both in work ethic and creativity). It is both a practical and a philosophical conversation. It covers legalities and our ethical obligations, both to our employers as well as to creative "rights". I love hearing the input from so many others in the field.

But now I am very curious. Has anyone ever heard of a chef having legal action taken against him/her for doing this? I've been in the business 30 years and personally I have never 'taken the recipes and run', but I have heard of a few chefs who have been burned and who did not have contracts and did 'take & run'. I have never heard of anything in the news about this. I'm sure that legal action may be possible, but I have never heard of it.

On another note. If you take the recipes, who does it hurt? Your staff will be required to carry out business as usual and they would be hurt the most, not management. And if your crew is well trained, they already know the recipes by heart, but now they will be requuired to re-write them themselves. And lastly, if you run a house which features recipes from the Chef, then the new Chef will replace all your recipes with their own anyway.
Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
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Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
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post #19 of 30
I've been in this situation a few times, here's my tke:

I am unique, I do things unique, other people are unique and they do things unique. What works for me does not neccesarily work for other people.

Do I leave behind recipies?

Yup.

If they're house recipies, used on a daily basis, everyone needs to use them, and if each employee doesn't have his/her own copy of the thing somewhere, it would reflect on me as a lousy supervisor.

When I leave, eihter a new guy will be taking my place with his/her own new stuff, or the employer wants to "cheap out" and will find shortcuts and/or inferior ingredients to subsitute. If this is the case, it's not MY recipie anymore.

Remember: Half or even more of the recipie is technique........
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #20 of 30
I have to say that even considering not leaving the recipes is bad for your reputation as a chef. I think that you should be able to take copies of everything that the restaurant was making, but as the chef you probably don't even need the recipes to recreate your dishes and you've probably trained your whole staff on how to make your recipes so you'd only be hurting the ones you've left behind not ownership. I've always been a F. Point type chef and tell my sous chef a list of flavors that I am looking for in a dish and allowing them to use their palate to make the dish, for recipes that don't really require the chef's palate or interpretaion I've had exactly written recipes, standards, portion size and oftenly a picture. I also have a hands on training philosophy if for example I have a cook that's never been shown how to make a vinaigrette propperly, I take the time and have them stand with me while I walk them through the procedures then follow up having them demonstrate to me that they understand the technique. Then they can take that procedure and apply it to the different flavor profiles that I am seeking. Of course I try to taste as much as I can and help develop their palates by on spot adjusting, also training them to taste frequently. In regards to legality if you developed exact recipes while employed they are in fact the intellectual property of the restaurant, they hired you to develop these recipes it was probably in your job description. This is exactly the same as an engineer who develops a pattent while employed for a corporation, while the corporation may profit from said engineer's intelectual ability the corportation retains the pattent rights not the individual, unless contracted otherwise. Unless you have proof that you developed these recipes/ procedures prior to or in some cases after you left the restaurant then that is your intellectual property which you were paid to produce for the restaurant. This is a difficult thing to prove as you would need some documentaion that was irrefutably dated, a hard bound notebook with hand written dated recipes is not sufficient, a computer hard drive that saved the date of each specific recipe as it was created in say pdf form is a possibility but still iffy. So my advice would be to save yourself the trouble, protect your creds. and part amicabally.
"Rustic= French for lazily lacking technique" .... My new sous chef
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"Rustic= French for lazily lacking technique" .... My new sous chef
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post #21 of 30
I echo Foodpump, it's like I said earlier, we all need to move on and develop, develop, develop. None of us are any better than our last meal, and I'm sure we all want our next to be better:chef:

Leave the recipes, good riddance-they only worked for the last kitchen, your new place will be better, have nicer equipment, more refined customers etc....:chef:
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #22 of 30
:talk: 40/ 50 years ago a Chef was hired for his ability to manage and improve the kitchen operations not to just maintain the present operations. The salaries offered me improved 500% in 8 years because I could build a business with my ideas and when I left I took those ideas with me so his brother-inlaw or nephew or son could not maintain what I did. One place I went back 3 times and always for more salary. If I had written down procedures or trained my replacement I would not have been offered a chance to go back because I could do what they couldn't. And I always gave at least 2 weeks notice when I left so they all knew I would never walk out on them. not like today, I have seen chefs walk out or get fired and turn around get a job across the street and get a job. That would have never happened back then.:mad:
post #23 of 30
I worked as Exec Chef at The Garden House Hotel in Cambridge (now the Hilton Double Tree), when I left we had 5-stars for food safety, the kitchen was a centre of excellence and the food was great.

One year later and the reputation for food was spiraling downhill and the kitchen was awarded NO stars by the health inspector. They had gone through 3 exec chefs and most of the chefs I worked with had left because they were discontent.

My point, it's the chef that makes a restaurant/hotel kitchen run well and not a SOP manual full of recipes......I thought that was obvious????????:confused::confused::confused:

(unless of course you're not a very good chef to begin with......)
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #24 of 30
:( You need to explain that to the General Managers "across the pond" because The CMA gives them the idea that they alone and "Kitchen Bible" or the "SOP manual" run the kitchen. And they expect you you to train your Sous Chef to be ready to take over at any time.That's why I stopped being a "Executive Chef" and became a "Catering Chef/Owner" I could not bring myself to "brown nose " just be the Top Chef in the kitchen. I didn't need the grey hairs only my beard is grey.:)
post #25 of 30
Leave "your" recipes behind. I worked for a large group of restaurants for
a good 12 years. When I was younger the owner came in and had a bowl
of soup. Out of the blue, he said "Steve, this is one of the best soups I've
ever had". He then proceeded to tell me, "but, if you don't have a recipe, and none of the other cooks or chef can make it, it's worthless". He walked out of the kitchen. I have always kept composition books with all the recipes for each restaurant I've worked in....some mine some the restaurants.....have about 6 now....I've never felt it was dishonest.....and have never been denied access to recipes. Enough was left out insofar as procedure and order to make them difficult to recreate, unless you'd actually made them......Pastry recipes are the most difficult. Although it's tough.....always leave with a smile and express your gratitude.
It the way it should be done.
post #26 of 30
Fortunately I don't need to explain anything as I don't answer to a corporate GM or anyone other than my Bursar; who expects great food and sets realistic budgets.:)
UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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UNDER PRESSURE AT PEMBROKE
Cooking sous vide at Cambridge's third oldest College
http://thepembrokekitchen.blogspot.com/
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post #27 of 30
:( When I was younger I took a job working for a Chef who was training the owner's son how to cook and next year guess who was Chef and guess who was looking for another Chefs position. Well, he only knew what the Chef had taught him and got an attitude so, three other cooks and I left. When you are hired as the Head Chef you are not hired to train them every thing you have ever learned, only to bring up your menu everyday.And if the owner ever asked me me for recipes, I just told them I don't use them, he will have to come in at 5 am if he wants to watch me make soup. :suprise:
post #28 of 30
One thing to think about if you take your recipes is that wouldn't people think that you were just copying the recipes from your old restaurant? After all, they wouldn't know you were the one who actually created those recipes, not unless you have a known reputation which you probably don't. That's one reason I would leave your recipes.
post #29 of 30
Yeah, that's pretty typical of the hospitality biz here, and probably why both you and I have our own businesses.

I learned that the job of a Chef was always expendable.....Just as a Chef always second-guesses and has back-up plans for each and every employee 10 minutes before thier shift starts, the Chef should always second-guess thier employer and keep an eye out for a plum-mer job: Once the kitchen is running smoothly and is making money, your job is done. If I was hired to clean up a mess and get good food out the door, and paid what I negotiated, I deliver. Yes, that includes recipies, but hey, I'm not spending countless hours and materials creating some wonder-dish. Besides, once I left, I almost always could "cherrypick" staff left behind when they called me up and whined about the new Chef or the owner.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #30 of 30
I can't imagine leaving and "taking" the recipes as in not leaving any thing behind. Just make copies for yourself. Irrespective of whether you use them or not in the next restaurant you may want one of them years down the road. Just be professional. If you have a contract you wouldn't (or shouldn't) even be asking.
It seems like a non issue to me. How many of us have recipes that other Chefs we have worked with have given us? I was looking through my file just the other day and came across a recipe I was given years ago from Windows on the World.
Hope the new job works out well.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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