When should a chef give credit for a recipe idea?

 Recipe Creation

Eater has an intriguing article, "Inspiration and Attribution in Cooking: How and When Should Chefs Credit Their Sources." Traditionally, the guideline was that any recipe had to be credited unless the chef had made three significant alterations in the recipe. But in these internet days, when recipes fly fast and furious, are there any guidelines left? And what are the repercussions?

This is a lengthy, thoughtful article and the author (Gabe Ulla) has made an effort to interview a number of very prestigious chefs, including Wylie Dufresne, Jose Andrés, David Chang, and Nathan Myhrvold  in the United States and  Christian Puglisi and David Toutain in Europe. It's definitely worth a read, but here are a couple of quotes that struck us as defining the issue effectively:

"[David] Chang's main point is that he sees 'a lot of people spend a lot of time developing new, really cool stuff - often not operating at a profit - and then  get their new ideas swiped by someone else without attribution. We're all guilty of not giving enough credit, but there are some cases that are too obvious.'"

And per Wylie Dufresne, " 'When I'd notice someone copying and then being praised as having innovated, it always bothered me more that the publication writing about the dish wouldn't point it out,' he says. 'No one seemed to call the chef and say, 'Do you want to come clean on this?" He adds: 'Dishes are just as personal and laborious as other works of art, yet  people get away with copying in cooking far more than they do in other disciplines.'" 

On the other hand, Amanda Cohen writes, "'Making dishes is a conversation that chefs are having with each other, and it's always nice to feel like someone's seen what I'm doing.'" 

Our own feeling is that creative cooking should be encouraged, much like creative research in other fields such as science or history. Giving credit, whether through citations or actual references, doesn't affect the value of those efforts - it shouldn't in cooking.


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