But can a chef expect to have copyright over dishes which he includes on his menu?
Not many dishes are truly innovative.Almost every dish has been done before in some way,shape or form,lots of very similar combinations of ingredients brought together in slightly different formats and with ever greater technicality.Things go out of fashion,people forget about them, then the person who resurrects them perhaps with a *modern* slant is credited with inventing the dish.
The fact is there are flavours that go together and there a flavours that don't.If a flavour combination works then the likelihood is that at some point, some Chef somewhere has happened to notice this before. Any Chef genuinely discovering a brand new flavour combination truly has hit Chef Recipe Jackpot.Q
A case in point:Sticky Toffee Pudding
The late departed Francis Coulson of Sharrow Bay Hotel, Lake Windermere, is widely acknowledged with inventing this dish in the 60's/70's. But visit any pub/restaurant in the North of England and they will probably have reputedly the 'original Sharrow Bay recipe' included on their menu.Nearly every kitchen will have a chef who has worked with a chef who worked at Sharrow Bay ,at some point, or knows a chef who knows a chef etc,etc.The Chefs who have actually worked at the kitchens of Sharrow Bay are sworn to keep the secret recipe to themselves.(Obviously we do have *the* authentic recipe on our menu as Chef actually did once work with a pastry Chef who once worked at Sharrow Bay...)Actually randomly,Chef once cooked dinner for Francis Coulson...
The point is that similar pudding recipes can be found in many vintage cookery books.
Vintage Cookery book-Post war containing recipes contributed by readers.
Note page 56:Recipe for Date Pudding
This recipe is practically identical to the Sharrow Bay recipe,the only noteworthy deviation is the use of 'best dripping' as opposed to 'best butter'.But,your average thrifty housewife living in post war Britain is hardly likely to be in a position to whack the household's full weekly ration of butter into one pudding..
So what is this recipe doing in a book published 20 years or more before Francis Coulson invented his famed dish?
The fact is all recipes evolve,different Chefs develop different variations taking ideas and inspiration from other recipes/Chefs/menus.
What Sharrow Bay actually did was reinvent old dish,breathing new life into it by coining a zippy new name 'Icky Sticky toffee pudding',thus bringing it back to popularity.They marketed it successfully and established a trend.
How about then Noma,recently voted Number One in the Worlds 50 best restaurants,Rene Redzepis award winning restaurant is seen as inspirational and cutting edge, bringing Nordic cuisine to the forefront.
A welcome move in the absolute opposite direction from the molecular gastronomy trend,Noma's cuisine is a step back to the roots of food,with more focus on vegetables,less protein and less actual cooking.Working with Food Historians to research old techniques and ingredients.So, though innovative in the sense that its not the type of food that has been served recently, if at all, can he really claim copyright(or would he even want to)?I don't think so,how can we be certain that Fred Flintstone didn't plate up a similar feast(well,perhaps not as artistically arranged) prior to fire and the cooking pot being discovered?And wouldn't he of course be eating a more vegetable based diet( and rutting around on the forest floor for roots,berries and leaves) because he didn't have the expertise to render some proteins edible? Interestingly he'd also be eating exclusively seasonal and local food.Exemplary.
Any Chef worth his salt now wouldn't be seen dead without the latest must have Cheffy fashion accessory: A Foraging Assistant. And perish the thought of admitting that you haven't physically gathered at least some portion of your menu personally,whilst preferably sporting a fetching Burlap tunic fixed with twine and flip flops fashioned lovingly from a couple of 28 day aged reindeer chops, all the while embracing ones inner self,at one with Mother Earth.The food you subsequently create thus elevated to an homage.
Please though,lets not regress too far into the realms of the raw,whilst a committed omnivore, biting the
And I bet Fred and Barney ate it once,out of necessity, before they thought up the only true innovation,fire and the cooking pot,that opened the recipe floodgates and set us on the journey which elevated us from other mammals.
Whilst its unacceptable to nick another Chefs expression/personalisation of a dish in the written format(ie the method),or a brand name which I came across here,the idea of copyrighting ingredient combinations is wrong on so many levels.How can any Chef be so pompous as to think he can 'own' an ingredient combination??
Twanker Chef complaining about this is has surely missed the point.
I don't need to tell you what this is,but its playing JUST FOR YOU..
A few years ago before we had the pub,we owned a small restaurant.In the next village there was a hotel with a Chef/Owner.We used to eat there from time to time,the food was good.The Chef though didn't do much to ingratiate himself with his public.He actively sought out publicity and was unfailingly arrogant,once giving an interview to the local paper which contained the clunker of a quote that he was "educating people in the North East about what good food was". Insulting your diners in this way is not an overly salubrious method of customer retention.As a result Chef Manqué was always unfairly slated by reviewers and eventually sold up.
I digress,he never came to eat in our restaurant(clearly didn't want to give us the idea we were good enough to be graced with his presence) but would often send members of his staff on scouting missions.Obviously,we recognised them(donning swathed scarves and sunglasses indoors wasn't exactly conducive to inconspicuousness).Whenever they came we would ponder which dish from our menu would appear next on his.It gave us a laugh,obviously he rated our food(that or his ideas font had dried up), in any event his execution of each dish was always slightly different to ours.It gave us a warm glow and a sense of achievement to see dishes from our menu find their way onto his..
Isn't that the whole point of cooking? About creating flavour combinations that hopefully people will enjoy and if you're really lucky,will want to go away and recreate for themselves?
If they don't, then surely its a Big Fat Fail.
The idea of Dish Plagiarism is absolute bollocks.
I rest m'case y'r honour...
PS Startlingly,Noma(English meaning) is: 'a gangrenous disease caused by malnutrition'.
I'd still like to eat there though.