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Using other peoples recipes (rant)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

My cooking style is... rather different. I'll see say a rasberry lying on a table and ask myself how can I get that to work with a steak or something. I do things you're not really supposed to and I make it work. Our clientele consists of the higher ups in society. These are big names that have been to some of the best restaurants and I've gotten many compliments on these ''unique'' dishes. Well experimenting like this doesn't always go your way and you end up with some bad tasting food sometimes because the end result are flavors that just don't work out. To me, this is cooking. If it works, you sell it. If it doesn't, you start over from scratch and either go back and ask yourself what went wrong in step #3 or scratch the idea altogether and try something new. 

 

My friend on the other hand is by far a better cook than me and I'll admit it. He's been cooking in restaurants since he was 16, and I have 2 years experience where as he has 8. So he has seen a lot more than me in his time cooking so far. The thing is though is that I introduce him to new ways of doing something and he'll take credit for it. I never say anything though because I know it's something I came up with and that's all that matters to me. I don't feel like he's original at all with as much kitchen experience that he has. Most of his dishes are recipes from the internet that he says he himself came up with which I know isn't true. 

 

Just the other day I came up with something and lets just say the end result was VERY spicy. It wasn't so much the amounts of ingredients I used, but what I mixed. So I started over substituting one ingredient and it came out perfect. He wouldn't let it go for some reason. He told me I used way too much of so and so when I knew exactly how much I used and he continued to call me a liar. Then he went on to explain what yields are which really irritated me because that's pretty much a way of calling me dumb. He asked me where I got the recipe and I said ''Nowhere. I made this. I don't copy other people's recipes.'' He said, ''Well it sucks and wherever you got the recipe from, you should follow it exactly because you added too much of something. There are recipes for a reason. You follow them and if it turns out good, you then add your own changes to it.'' 

 

So in other words, never try anything new. Copy famous recipes and sprinkle parsley on top when it calls for chives. I really took offense to this, but I never argue with people. I just shake my head and act like I agree and bite my lip. I wanted all of your opinions on this matter. I feel childish for even asking, but there are so many more experienced people on here than I am and I want to know if this is how things are done like he says they are. Is it wrong to copy a recipe and add a few subtle things to it and call it yours? 

post #2 of 10

Um, no? People/chefs/cooks have been doing it for years. Not every chef is an innovator. Not every chef strives to be an Artist. Not every chef is a Keller, or a Bolud, or an Achatz, or Robuchon. Some chefs just make the same dishes, over and over, and don't innovate or experiment...nothing wrong with making good food and running a successful restaurant and kitchen and making people happy.

 

And hey, the classics are the classics for a reason. They work. Tomato goes with basil, beef goes with red wine, chocolate goes with peanut butter, bacon goes with everything, smoked salmon goes with cream cheese, etc etc. 

 

Not to be offensive, but maybe you should learn the basics first before trying to add raspberries to beef. Someone who has only been cooking for two years and wants to do something like that probably won't earn my trust or win me over. If I went to Alinea and they wanted to serve me beef and raspberries, I'd probably welcome it. But you? Probably not...sorry.

 

Listen, don't be cocky. If you think you've somehow come up with a bunch of stuff that no one else has done ever, I've got news for you: You haven't. Somewhere, sometime, someone has probably done what you are going to do. There is a reason we don't often serve raspberries with beef...it's gross. When you think you've come up with a new dish or a new flavor combination, it might be a good idea to bust out Le Guide and see if Escoffier beat you to the punch (and hell, maybe Careme beat Escoffier). Most of the "innovation" you see now days isn't really new, they are mostly rediscovering old ideas or giving a new twist on a old recipe. Maybe you've had lox and cream cheese a thousand times, but probably never anti-griddled, flash frozen creme fraiche/cream cheese and microplane'd frozen smoked salmon? Hey look, old idea, new way to serve it. 

 

There is nothing wrong with trying new things...making mistakes and learning how to fix them is a cornerstone for learning how to be a great cook. Just don't run before you can walk, and don't fall into trying to be innovative or "cool" or experimental, or whatever, just to do it. 

 

 

 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

I do know the ''basics'' of classic french cooking. If I didn't, I wouldn't be working where I do. I'm not trying to be an inventor either. I'll leave that up to chefs like Ferran Adria. If you worked with me, you would know I'm not cocky at all. I show everyone respect and ask the head chef for advice or what I can add to my meals to make them better. I encourage both good and bad criticism. 

 

As for the berry and beef reference that's just an example of how I think. I see something and try to put two and two together. I've never actually used that combination. Fruit and beef just doesn't work well together although you may be able to come up with a sweet and spice rub. 

 

If everything's been done before, then what truly makes a chef one of the best when it comes to cooking if he's just taking someone else's recipe? (Serious answer)

post #4 of 10

I think Someday was really rough on you.  Nothing wrong with experimenting, have at it!

 

You sound rather young as does your friend.  My advice to you has nothing to do with cooking at all, more so to do with friendship.  Friends are great however when you work in the same industry as your friend you have to learn to keep to yourself a bit more.  If your friend is mocking you for your experiments then turning around and "stealing" them and then taking credit then I'm sorry to say that he may not be a true friend.  Perhaps don't try to be so honest with him, don't share too much.  And remember, if he's criticizing you harshly it's only probably because he wants to make you doubt yourself which makes him feel superior.  It doesn't mean he's a bad person, it just means that you need to rise above it.  Live and learn and keep making beef with raspberries - if you can make that work as a chef then you may well be the next Achatz.

"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 #5 of 10

I hardly think you're wrong, except in not answering your friend with more decision! 

I remember this attitude when i was studying my own field.  People with small minds tend to say you are nobody and can't have opinions of your own.  Then what's the point and anyway, where did the "greats" get their ideas then? 

You seem to have success, so why let this kind of mentality get to you?  Except when he steals your technique and takes credit for it.  What does that tell you.  Maybe he's envious. 

If you don't experiment you won't make mistakes.

But if you don't experiment you won't achieve anything better. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 10

Looks like he has an ego problem. Andre Soltner the former chef owner of the famous Lutece'  restaurant in NY and now one of the princibles in the French Culinary Institute said many years  ago  "No one realy invents a dish, they just add to or alter one that was done before"

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #7 of 10

Well.... I worked in kitchens in the late 80's that served a strawberry and black pepper sauce with grilled beef filet.  Raspberry, in connection with an acid, like a nice vinegar would probably work.  It will work well on salmon, that was done alot in the 90's.

 

Yes, the OP does have a bit of an ego, yes the OP experiments and loves to experiment, and this  is good, and yes the O.P needs to learn more, read more, research more.  Whatever you do at home is fair game, what you do at work should be tried and tested--the customer isn't paying to be a guinea pig, he's paying for tried and tested results.

 

P.S. I stole the idea of strawberry and black pepper, and used it in my line of chocolaes--a butter ganache with strawberry puree and fresh cracked black pepper, enrobed in white chocolate.  It works well, sells well.  Almost every idea was thunk of before, just recycled and face lifted

...."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 #8 of 10

You have a different approach to cooking than your more experienced friend.  It's certainly valid.  At least I hope so, because it's how I roll as well.  Bear in mind that not all original ideas work out well; the line itself might not be the best place to experiment; and that a new recipe is no good to a restaurant (or home cook) until it's perfected to the point where it can be followed exactly with consistently good results.   

 

Getting back to the kitchen:  Remember that when you're working as part of a team the only good attitude is NO attitude.  If your friend criticizes your methods AND borrows your recipes, he's already said everything which should and should not be said.  Don't be a bad winner, buy the after-work beer.

 

BDL

post #9 of 10

We are all in the kitchen for different reasons. Your "friend" is obviously not in the kitchen for the same reason as you are, man. The credit thing is just petty and makes for a petty person that you probably don't want to be around. Just ignore it. Is it possible not to have to share recipes with him anymore or do you work together?

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Volpe View Post

. Is it possible not to have to share recipes with him anymore or do you work together?



If it's on the menu, EVERYONE has to prepare the item the same way.

 

...."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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