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Recipe Authorship: What changes make it no longer someone's recipe?


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Toliver

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 09:46 AM

I was watching an episode of Anne Burrell's "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" on the Food Network. In the episode, she made her version of Beef Bourguignon, stating that it was less "fussy" than most Beef Bourguignon recipes (I think she actually mentioned Julia's very involved recipe for the dish). Anne basically streamlined the dish for her tastes.

I went online to the Food Network's web site to download the recipe and there was this rather interesting tidbit at the end of the recipe:

 

From Food Network Kitchens; after further testing and to ensure the best results this recipe has been altered from what was in the actual episode.

How "1984" of them.

This posted recipe was credited to Anne Burrell but there was no notation of what changes the Food Network "kitchens" made to the recipe.

This brings up so many questions, the leading one being "So is it still an Anne Burrell recipe"? 

 

Has anyone else encountered something like this before?



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#2 Shel_B

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 12:06 PM

Has anyone else encountered something like this before?

 

Yes, at least to a degree.  Many recipes I see say that they have been "adapted" from so-and-so, and when looking at both recipes I see very little, if any, difference between them.  So, who's recipe is the adapted recipe?


.... Shel


#3 Shel_B

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 12:09 PM

This posted recipe was credited to Anne Burrell but there was no notation of what changes the Food Network "kitchens" made to the recipe.

This brings up so many questions, the leading one being "So is it still an Anne Burrell recipe"? 

 

 

 

One may ask if it was ever an Anne Burrell recipe ... how much did she change it, or change other recipes?


Edited by Shel_B, 17 April 2014 - 12:09 PM.

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.... Shel


#4 djyee100

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 02:04 PM

"after further testing and to ensure the best results this recipe has been altered..." (italics mine). That's peculiar language and not typical for an adapted recipe, which often simply says, This recipe was adapted from blah blah blah, period. If you look at the reviews, there is a one-star critique where a home cook complained of food poisoning and worried about leaving the half-cooked beef out on a tray for awhile. Then if you look at an earlier version of the recipe (here: http://www.epicuriou...L-5-33-52358511 ) as compared to the altered Food Network recipe, you'll see that the updated recipe gives a specific time, 12-15 mins, in which to brown the beef. If I had to guess, the test kitchen checked the recipe and decided to make sure the beef was sufficiently cooked before leaving it out on a tray, to forestall any possibility of food poisoning.

 

Other than that, the two recipes are virtually identical.

 

My rule of thumb for "original" rather than "adapted": a major change of ingredient, or a major change of technique. However, a cookbook author I know is more stringent. She will draw on other recipes, but call it her own when she has changed at least 2 important ingredients and one technique. When it comes to a classic recipe like boeuf bourguignon, though, there's far less wiggle room for a recipe writer. Anne Burrell has tried to distinguish her recipe with the overnight marinade. Also, don't discount the differences in written instructions from one recipe to another. Sometimes a recipe writer will explain a dish or technique in such a way that it will click with readers who have formerly been mystified. That's important, too.

 

The dish sounds delicious. Good luck if you decide to cook it.


Edited by djyee100, 17 April 2014 - 02:09 PM.


#5 liuzhou

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:37 AM

In my experience 'adapted from' tends to mean 'stolen from'. 


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#6 Jason Perlow

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 12:26 PM

So, back when we launched RecipeGullet many moons ago we had guidelines for posting on that system. 

 

From a pure legal perspective, a list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted but the methodology (the written instructions) can. Legit "Adaptation" could be anything as insignificant as altering the quantity of an ingredient let alone switching out an ingredient.

 

I am not of the opinion that using a list of ingredients and changing the methodology is stealing. There is very little new ground in traditional cooking and recipes go through many, many iterations from person to person. I've frequently "adapted" recipes for use on my blog for dietary or taste reasons. In fact in some cases I think some recipes in cookbooks or websites have not been tested properly (were overly salty, etc, when made the first time) and we've pointed that out.


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#7 Chris Hennes

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:30 PM

I tend to agree with Jason here: a list of ingredients is not a recipe. If you are making a significant change to the method for combining those ingredients, I've got no problem with you claiming authorship. In this case, the reverse is also true: the change was insignificant (according to djyee100's sleuthing), so calling the recipe Anne Burrell's seems completely reasonable, to the extent that any recipe for something so classic can be attributed to a single author.


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#8 David Hensley

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 11:01 PM

OK, here's one for you, it may or may not be appropriate for the thread, I'll gladly let the mods figure it out haha

 

I worked for a Chef once, and from an idea we discussed, I developed a recipe for a savory cheesecake. We mutually used the recipe until we parted ways, but we agreed that once I left, the use of said recipe would end. When I left there, it stopped, but just a couple of years ago, it began again. He recently did a dinner for the James Beard Foundation, and used said recipe, without any credit to me.

 

Shouldn't he at least have "adapted" my recipe, for his special dinner?


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