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Blatant Stealing / Copying Another Chefs Work.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

With all of the kerfuffle over who did what first in regards to the deep fried pastry, Cronut, Dosant, Fried Croissant etc. I am wondering what do others think of the practice of copying anothers work and using it to propel your establishment? Just the other day I came upon a restaurant in the Netherlands that has copied Alinea's table side dessert, and a number of others on the forum called them out on it (maybe they got permission or a blessing to do so). Full disclosure I do a *similar* thing for private events but I do give them the credit for the inspiration as well as I also take the presentation a lot further to make it my own. I also see a number of European chefs doing similar things but for photography purposes. But to copy and paste (and then sell it) is something totally different I think. Thoughts?

 

Also, no one invents anything anymore. Its not who invented it but who got to the newspapers first!

post #2 of 16

hmmm.

I am a bit more nuanced about it.

though the first place I worked, did exactly that, copy something from a well known dutch chef and presented it as their own.

there is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from famous names, but PLEASE,  give it your own input, too.

take the basics and make something different with it.

 

it simply is not true that these days someone doesn't invent anything anymore.

there are enough examples out there who come with new things to inspire others.

we have some pretty good chefs kicking around the world, and it is what YOU do with a given thing, to be inspired and make it YOURS.

 

that said, I think it's even better not to look at what others do at all, but to think about what YOU are trying to say to your customers.

what feeling you want to give them.

so to me, the best outset to do so is not blatantly copying others work, but start with an ingredient or an flavor, or even a feeling you have, and go from there…..let it come from your heart / soul and share the love!

post #3 of 16

So when you make Coq au Vin or Carbonnades a la Flammande you are not copying someone's recipe?

Whenever you open a recipe cookbook you are automatically making someone else s idea.

Where does it stop being theirs and becomes your? 

As soon as you change one part of a recipe it becomes new and yours.

post #4 of 16

This appears to be an ethical issue and the OP's thread title (Blatant stealing/copying) and their post (I do give them credit for the inspiration) both clarifies and muddies the water. The fact is most restaurant food, as chefross points out, is copying. Or at least derived of something that's already out there. But, in some cases when a chef's work is a new or unique idea that happens to be really good, is it reasonable to expect others not to copy it? Either exactly as it is or a derivative?

 

Of course not. 

 

Giving credit to the originator of a recent unique dish is the ethical thing to do if it's essentially a copy. It's probably unnecessary to give credit for inspiration, but it's a nice gesture. But unless the name of the originator becomes part of the dish, at some point after it's out in the public domain -let's say one year- giving credit shouldn't really matter.


Edited by mano - 3/5/14 at 11:16am
post #5 of 16

I think there are a few issues all lumped in together here.

 

Yes, I regularily use recipies from others.  Some I get from books, some from magazines, some have been handed down to me.  Fair game as far as I am concerned. If you don't want others to use your secret crabby-patty recipie, don't print it.

 

Plating or presentation is another issue.  Everybody has their own style, it would take a lot of effort and concentration to perfectly imitate another guys work.  Now here it gets tricky:  If I'm hired and paid to make food like it was shown to me (and what the customer expects) then it's part of my work.  If I use exact plating or decoration techniques  from a previous employer for a current one, Then I would feel like I am copying the work, and I would bi**-slap myself for not deviating or tweaking the presentation a little in order to call it my own.

 

Inventing stuff is a whole other issue, and yes, people do invent stuff now, even though a zillion cooks and bakers before us have invented stuff.  Now, for instance I make a lot of chocolate bars for up-scale retailers, 22 varieties of 2 oz bars.  These bars are about 1/4 thick, and yet I have a some with caramel fillings, some with fruit fillings, all using natural ingredients and all with a min. shelf life of 6 mths.  The caramel filling for instance, is a directly out of Grewling's "Chocolates and confections" but how I got it sandwiched into a 1/4" thick bar is my invention, and one I don't tell anyone how I do it. 

...."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 #6 of 16

This is an interesting topic for me. I recently asked myself if what I am doing is ethical for the first time after writing a menu and using one of my friend's recipes. He makes the most amazing buffalo wing sauce. I asked him if it was OK for me to use his recipe because quite simply, it cannot be beat and no variation of his recipe will improve it, IMO. He told me it was OK and he was flattered I wanted to use it. Still, after I wrote the menu I got this weird feeling of guilt like I was ripping someone off. So, I called him up again and told him I'm using his sauce on my menu. He was still OK with it and he seemed mostly concerned about weather or not I was going to go to the bar with him that night. So, my mind was at rest after that. If anybody asks me how I came up with the recipe (and I'm sure many will), I'll just tell them it's my good friend Kyle Basset's recipe. 

post #7 of 16

Theres no stealing in this industry. Food knowledge is meant to be shared 

post #8 of 16

hmmm a dish is not "food knowledge" when its not a basic thing but pretty unique to the person who designed it.

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerViolence View Post
 

Theres no stealing in this industry. Food knowledge is meant to be shared 

 

Maybe. 

Probably.

Then again, I wouldn't hire a cook with 5 years experience and then "share" with him how to temp a med. steak.  I would with a newbie salad guy provided he/she is genuinely interested, but I won't force/fob off my knowledge on people.

 

But business knowledge isn't meant to be shared....

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post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post
 

 

Maybe. 

Probably.

Then again, I wouldn't hire a cook with 5 years experience and then "share" with him how to temp a med. steak.  I would with a newbie salad guy provided he/she is genuinely interested, but I won't force/fob off my knowledge on people.

 

But business knowledge isn't meant to be shared....

So if you take Salmon Mousse Cornets, start advertising them as your own creation, your signature dish, that will obviously never be okay, and is stealing.

 

I have had chefs show me "signature dishes" teach me how to make them, explain the why and how everything works together and encourage you to copy them and build from that. I often use other chefs "specials" or dishes from restaurant menus as building blocks to learn from. My last sous chef gave me his personal recipe book to copy/study from. I just dont see how an aspiring chef or a novice chef using other established chefs recipes as stealing, its all for learning.  

 

As business knowledge is concerned, that is a whole different animal that I have very limited experience in and cannot comment upon. 

 

 

 

On a side note, I liked your name "FoodPump" so much, i made it my handle on some online games I play. I hope thats not stealing... 

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soesje View Post
 

hmmm a dish is not "food knowledge" when its not a basic thing but pretty unique to the person who designed it.

Dishes are created by chefs using there knowledge of food to produce thus product. Saying a dish is not "food knowledge" is like saying "This guy built this car from scratch, but its not "car knowledge", doesnt make any sense. 

 

Once you start building the epic dishes that have never been done before, people understand via food knowledge why they work and how you got it to that point. 

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

So when you make Coq au Vin or Carbonnades a la Flammande you are not copying someone's recipe?

Whenever you open a recipe cookbook you are automatically making someone else s idea.

Where does it stop being theirs and becomes your? 

As soon as you change one part of a recipe it becomes new and yours.


I get where you're coming from, but I think there's a difference between using a "classic" recipe, such a Coq au vin, than using a conceptualized dish that someone has created as their own personal work of art. Sort of like painting an art piece in the form of Cubism, rather than copying a Picasso stroke by stroke.

 

I guess if it's not a blatant "stroke by stroke" imitation, then there's nothing wrong with it. Imitation is a form of flattery... Would it bother me if someone copied a dish it took me months to conceptualize? not to mention the money that goes into research and and testing..yes, I would be miffed.

 

eta: then again, if chefs are so worried about recipe and concept stealing, perhaps they should start trademarking their dishes.


Edited by Pollopicu - 3/6/14 at 3:40pm
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #13 of 16

If someone else takes my idea (recipe, dish, plating, whatever) and uses it as their own, three things can happen

1.) I am flattered and my ego is stroked and being fragile it needs it

2.) I realize that they must be creatively challenged or lazy and therefore not any competition

3.) I know that it was not the last arrow in my quiver, so on to the next one

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post #14 of 16

Hi Power....

 

I think we're coming at this from two different angles.  My angle is that I've been in business for myself for the last 17 years now, so I tend to see things a bit different as compared from an employees point of view.

 

I'm an old fart and have been around a lot, which also means I've been burned one or a few times. I really do enjoy showing or training employees new techniques, explaining things, and lending them my personal books.  But I don't do this with everyone. To the employee with a sh*tty work ethic and attitude I will show and explain the bare minimum and suggest which books, blogs or videos to watch on their own time.  If they actually do something to further their interest and careers, I will open up a bit and explain stuff. Bit by bit. If they don't, I just cut their hours to 4 hrs/week and watch them leave. 

 

Then there's the employee who asks too many questions:  "how much does this piece of heavy, hard-wired equipment cost?  Where do you buy it"  "How often do you deliver to X client? How does he pay?"  "Where do you buy your packaging? How do you get bar codes for your products?"  These guys I just smile and nod, take out my keys, dangle them in front of them, and ask them:

"This is really what you want, right? The keys to this place?"

 

I'm not saying I'm a culinary genius, but I have worked very hard and done a lot of research to develop some very unique products, and this information I keep pretty close to my chest.  I have no problem giving out recipies to employees or clients that were given to me, or taken from books and magazines and "tweaked" by me.

 

When I had the catering business, the servers would call me "foodpump", It was pretty much me and one p/timer in the kitchen pumping out hot, cold, platters, homemade desserts, breakfasts, and sandwiches all day, every day.  If I didn't want anyone to know that name, I wouldn't tell anyone.  But I've signed off on about 3,000 posts on this site with that name, and at least 2000 posts on another site with that name, so I can't tell to take the name if you like it, you already have.

...."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 #15 of 16

excuse me.

that is not the case here, you don't get my point.

 

copying other peoples dishes has NOTHING to do with knowledge nor understanding how the person who designed it, came up with this idea.

when you copy someone and put it on your menu, without changing ANYTHING nor adding anything of your own twist, then it simply is stealing other people's ideas.

you make money with something that is not your own input.

 

for classics BASIC recipes, different story.

those have been around for a long time,  everyone makes them slightly different…as basics are just that, a starting point.

say, a bavarian cream. Countless things you can do to it to make it your own. 

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Speaking of plating: I came upon a news article in which a couple of big name French chefs began barring photography in their dining rooms because they felt that their food was proprietary. "You want to see what my food looks like you pay for it!"

 

Recipes are fare game in my book! (short of breaking into a place) @foodpump Krabby Patties HA!!! But I get pretty wary of people going above and beyond just a simple recipe. I'm talking same ingredients, same sauces, same garnishes, same plating, SAME NAME... Chefs should never be afraid of someone stealing their work as we should always be 5 steps ahead of the competition anyway! "Salmon mousse coronets? That was 63 menus ago!"

 

I say no one invents anything anymore because I always would come across someone who did it before, especially in this food fad society we have know. We westerners always seem to be a day late and a dollar short in the culinary advancement world... the "cronut" for example, every pastry chef, baker, breakfast chef has tossed some croissant dough into a fryer to see what would happen. An acquaintance of mine took to the local media to protest Dominique's "invention," claimed they've had a similar product on their menu for years.  Made a complete fool of themselves I might add, and came off as pretty pathetic. Again, Dominique got to the media first! The Wright Bros. weren't the first to fly, they were just the first to get a guy with a camera.

 

Good stuff Chefs, and cooks. 

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