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Should I have the courage to ask a restaurant for a recipe?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

A few months ago I visited an intimate Italian restaurant. Not only did I experience the most delicious gnocchi, it was actually one of the best meals I've ever had. The restaurant is located abroad so I can't visit whenever I get a craving. I've also never thought of calling a restaurant and asking for a recipe. I simply cannot get this meal out of my mind. Should I be bold enough to write them and express my dining experience and ask for the recipe?

 

Normally when I dine out and fall in love with an item from the menu I come home and try to recreate it myself and I'm usually satisfied, but with this particular dish I don't want to do that, I want that exact recipe. I'm a bit of an introvert in real life, so I'm concerned about the kind of reply I will receive. What's the worse that could happen?

 

 

How would you feel about someone calling and asking for a recipe? would you share it?

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #2 of 14

I always view it as a compliment of the highest nature and never hesitate to share. People sharing their knowledge with me is large part of how I learned what I know thus far.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #3 of 14
This is how I feel about it, your mileage may very. Recipes are not trade secrets to be hoarded. Not IMO. I'm in the world of food for a reason. Because I love food, and I want to share the memories of a wonderful meal with others. The joy that food can bring. If I have an amazing dish somewhere ill certainly ask for the recipe. It can't hurt. The worst thing that happens is they say no. Now as to how I feel about being asked for one of my recipes? I'm humbled. If I make something that someone thought memorable enough to wish to make it at home for their family and friends I am truly humbled. That fills me with great joy. It's a reward for me. That's why I cook. I have known others who refuse to share. They treat their recipes as some kind of trade secret. But the thing is no one creates an original dish. Every dish you create is similar to another dish somewhere and you are simply building on someone else's work before you wether you know it or not. That's how I feel. I think it's a sincere form of flattery to ask a chef for his or her recipe. Again ymmv.
post #4 of 14

yes I would call, and yes I do share...when people die and take their 'beloved' recipes with them, what a shame...how sad is that? now no one will ever have that dish done their way again.

as to the worst thing that can happen?  I guess that would be you being hung up on, but it's a phone...no one is coming through the line to slap you!!!

if you don't mind my asking, what was the dish?

see how easy that was?!!!!!!!(the asking, that is)

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks.

 

The dish was Gnocchi faits maison aux sauce bolognaise.

 

It's not so much that I'm afraid of a fist coming through the phone, it's more that I wasn't quite sure how appropriate it would be to ask, but reading the replies I'm realizing it's not that big of a deal. I was actually thinking of emailing instead of calling. Although I speak enough French to get by in the street, I don't speak enough to emotionally convey how I felt about the meal over the phone...overseas. I can't very well call and say J'ai adoré votre gnocchi, puis-je avoir la recette s'il vous plaît?...I feel it needs a lot more finesse than that. I'm definitely thinking of writing them a nice email, and if I don't get a response then perhaps a good old-fashioned letter. It's worth the wait.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #6 of 14

FWIW, I just adore getting letters in the mail. 

So much more personal.

Maybe that way too, you could find the right words in French to put to paper, maybe on some nice stationary, mailed directly to the owner/chef. 

Who would deny such a request, having taken the time and effort?  IMHO, I would be truly touched and give you the keys to the kitchen.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Kane, I sure do hope that's the response I receive. :)

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #8 of 14
You'll have to post back the results! smile.gif
post #9 of 14

The worst that could happen is they say no... actually the worst that could happen is that they give you a bum recipe.

 

I went to an Italian restaurant a few months ago and had a wonderful dish that I wanted to recreate and so I asked the waitress if I could have the recipe.  She flat out told me no.  I don't know if it's a policy or she just made the decision to say no on her own, but I'll ask more emphatically next time. I did try to recreate the dish on my own and it was good but not as good as the restaurant's.

 

I have an idea, you could try to recreate the dish on your own and then send them the letter describing how you tried to recreate it and then ask what you could have done differently.  It shows more engagement and sincerity. 

"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 #10 of 14

You should, of course, ask. 

 

Like K-Girl, I also enjoy real mail.   But in this case, if you have the restaurant's email address, email would probably be preferable in that replying is so much quicker and easier. 

 

In the particular case of gnocchi faits maison, I fear you might be disappointed as the difference that makes some gnocchi ethereal and others lumpen pastatariat is almost always touch and keeping the moisture level right.  Potato gnocchi dough will always be wet.  The trick is keeping it simultaneously as dry and as soft as possible, while kneading it as gently and minimally as possible -- but actually kneading and not flirting with it.    That ain't easy, at least not until you get the hang of it. 

 

If the gnocchi is too wet or not handled enough when making, it will fall apart when it's cooked.  If too dry, it will be tough.  If over handled (or too many eggs), it will be gummy. 

 

Roll the gnocchi dough into ropes.  Cut the gnocchi with a board knife.  If you want grooves in your gnocchi to hold more sauce, put each gnocchi onto the back of a dinner fork and use just barely enough pressure to get grooves as you roll the gnocchi off the fork.  

 

If your raw gnocchi aren't pillowy before they're cooked, they won't be pillowy when they are.  Touch, touch, touch. 

 

The ingredient list is very simple: 

  • Potato;
  • Flour;
  • Egg yolks;
  • Salt, and perhaps
  • Water (only if necessary, and very little). 

 

Their ratios aren't very complicated either, although they can vary.  Standard is three egg yolks, and 2 pounds of flour per pound of potato; salt to taste.  Personally I like to use only as much flour as necessary to get a dough stiff enough to handle.  Thus the amount of flour varies with the potatoes -- and potatoes can be quite variable depending on what kind of potato, how they're cooked, etc. 

 

Generally, baking the potatoes is preferable to boiling them, and ricing is preferable to mashing.  But -- and I hate to say it because it presents a true picture of how quirky and fussy cooking these kinds of things can be -- those differences aren't critical. 

 

Bon chance,

BDL

post #11 of 14

X86BSD couldn't have said it any better.  I find it an honor and privilege when someone asks me for my recipe.  Personally, I always respond to such an inquiry and can't understand chefs that want to keep their recipes a secret.  I also have to agree with BDL, in that you will probably be disappointed in your attempts to recreate the dish, if you get the recipe.  But it gives you a wonderful challenge; to strive to make gnocchi as good as you had there.  Gnocchi, like so many other dishes is pretty easy to make, but can take considerable practice to make properly.  It will be a fun adventure though, and you can't go so horribly wrong as to make the gnocchi inedible!

post #12 of 14

Agreed, please let us all know what the end result of your communication, 

whatever form you choose

BTW, Kane is man in Hawaiian, ohe is thin

I was brought up and lived most of my life in the very small town called Kaneohe,

but I'll take the ohe. tongue.gif

post #13 of 14

I honestly would be nervous about asking for a recipe, but I don't think I would hesitate,

 

Let us know how it turns out!

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollopicu View Post

Thanks.

 

The dish was Gnocchi faits maison aux sauce bolognaise.

 

Isn't it interesting that an Italian restaurant cooks a dish named Gnocchi faits maison aux sauce bolognaise?

 

The absolute best gnocchi i had was ricotta gnocchi. I tried to replicate it without success. Light as clouds.


Edited by Ordo - 4/3/13 at 12:57pm
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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