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Let us look at the idea of creative property. When one looks at a work of art let us say Van Gogh, Sunflowers, and tries to copy it, this is not stealing. But if the same person tries to pass off the painting as being their own is it stealing then? They did not steal the actual painting and pass it off as being theirs. They just simply copied that picture. This is where it gets tricky. Everybody knows Van Gogh and that painting, so no one would take that person seriously if they ever considered passing that off as there own.

There were many students of Van Gogh, and he himself was student to other painters, and tried his hand in similar copies of known works; was he considered a thief or not? The tricky part is this. Is food art. Yes and no. It is art, but it is also a business.

What Ferran has done revolutionized cooking, and the way everyone looks at eating. But he has been exploring this juncture since the early eighties, 1983. I do not know about you but I was 8. Ferran, and his original staff, just did not come up with these ideas and roll with it. This is and was a long process. So it did not come overnight. So to patent these creative processes that the other chefs are claiming I believe is nonsense. Everyone knows the originator, but that originator, also studied and used other methods from other chefs. example. Michel Bras, Jaques Maximum. They did not claim any authority on their ideas, they just kept doing what they are doing and doing it well.

This new movement food is extremely interesting, but like all movements there are extremes, but that allows for creative exchange of ideas.

I think that a lot of chefs are claiming autonomy over such ideas, but they must come from somewhere. The great chefs are the ones who say, look I got a lot of ideas from other people, and this is my take on it. Example; Jaques Maximum, Did truffles macaroni and cheese in the seventies. Robuchon did cauliflower with lobster gel and caviar in the eighties. Did TK steal, No. He learned from these gentlemen and spun his food in another direction.

We need to learn from all ideas and all angles to make the creative process happen, but one must realize that is is also a business ad there can not be one with out the other. This kind of food is extremely creative, but it is also very expensive, I am wondering what the fall out will be in years to come. This just raises the bar.

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I just read in Gastronomica that the J.M. Smucker Company has been trying (to no avail) to patent a certain kind of PB&J. a crustless and somehow especially sealed PB&J but nonethe less... a PB&J.


Edited by chankonabe (log)

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Again, a total misrepresentation of what happened. It was not merely a creative process or technique in this case. Copying vebatim has nothing in common with a creative exchange of ideas, in fact it's the opposite of creative.

Nobody has a problem with the kind of evolution you cite, but:

Did you see the set of photos on the first page? Did you read the near identical menu descriptions?

No one knew Van Gogh when he was alive, do you think these chef's dishes are as famous a s Sunflowers are? In Australia? So this chef assumed "everyone knew" all these dishes were copied? Do you think the people who gave him awards and called him innovative knew that the majority of his menu copied other chefs?

Do you think he would have received those accolades if he gave the credit that most here think he should have?

And you're very right, it costs to be creative. That's part of the reason some don't bother trying.

Everybody knows Van Gogh and that painting, so no one would take that person seriously if they ever considered passing that off as there own.

...........

  So to patent these creative processes that the other chefs are claiming I believe is nonsense.  Everyone knows the originator, but that originator, also studied and used other methods from other chefs.  example.  Michel Bras,  Jaques Maximum.

This new movement  food is extremely interesting, but like all movements there are extremes, but that allows for creative exchange of ideas.

 

We need to learn from all ideas and all angles to make the creative process happen, but one must realize that is is also a business ad there can not be one with out the other.  This kind of food is extremely creative, but it is also very expensive, 

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I have seen the Photos on the first page. I do not disagree that the photos are identical, but I also read the following posts after that. I merely wanted to maybe illustrate some perspective on a lot of these posts claiming sole proprietorship that allude to some ownership or rights to a creative process.

The Van Gogh was to illustrate a point. Many people of course know the work. So to pass it off as your own would be foolish, because eventually people would find out. It seems that the chef took the liberties to copy, and he was found out. Hence these posts. Like I said it would be foolish for someone to pass off someones work as there own

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weren't you saying way back when that it was wrong to call this copying plagerism because that only applied to academic work- a building on of ideas, research knowledge etc, specifically in academia?

other people pointed out to you after that that plagerism applies to literature and creative works as well, as it seemed you had been ignoring that ripping off creative work was also a no no. At any rate, creativity didn't figure into your explaination of why plagerism is wrong.

here again you argue that creative (visual and aural) works deserve less protection than other work? why is it less deserving in particular?

why is it any crazier to protect an artwork than it is to protect "nonfiction"?

work is work, original is original.

do you think that anything creative is fair game to be immediately appropriated, even in a commercial setting?

i'm not suggesting law enforcement here, just calling a hack a hack is enough for me.  :laugh:

Ummm... you're attributing to me a position I have never taken.. where does this idea that nonfiction is special come from?

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yes, it would be foolish to copy someone famous' work. and i guess if this guy didn't get all these awards and press coverage....if he was just a so-so copyist, no one would ever have known.

either way, he sort of ends up in the same... not so great place.

it has a certain elegance.

The Van Gogh was to illustrate a point.  Many people of course know the work.  So to pass it off as your own would be foolish, because eventually people would find out.  It seems that the chef took the liberties to copy, and he was found out.  Hence these posts. Like I said it would be foolish for someone to pass off someones work as there own

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Do you think the people who gave him awards and called him innovative knew that the majority of his menu copied other chefs?

Do you think he would have received those accolades if he gave the credit that most here think he should have?

I think it is important to note that all awards and accolades were received or decided well before his trip to the US.

This is not a statement of defence, but a statement of fact. Speculate from it what you will.

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If you folks are really into this may I suggest a good book?

The Idea of Property by Laura Underkuffler, a Professor of Law at Duke:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/019925418...5Fencoding=UTF8

"This book examines the central issue in property theory, as it intersects with law: what property is, as an idea, and the power that claimed individual property rights should have against competing public goals. Drawing upon areas as diverse as land use, the body as property, personal information as property, cultural property, and state redistributive claims, the author shows that there are deep reasons for property's protective power, or lack of it, in these and other cases." - Editorial Comment, Amazon.com

It's not light reading, (or cheap!), but it gets to the basis of the discussion; just what is property.

SB

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I've sat musing over this for quite some time, and some fascinating debate has ensued.

Amazed it hasn't veered off track too much but now we have got a little too deep into copyright territory.

I thought I would return to the first page and see what started it again.

whilst the train here seems to be about "ownership" of both techniques and recipes and how the boundaries should be drawn, I notice personally the one thing that raised my heckles when I compared the pictures, mirror image.

My personal opinion based on these 5 dishes alone is that it is completely wrong in the day and age of internet to merely copy the dish in it's entirety.

But then i ask the question, is my salad dish different to anyone else's. has my simple pre-theatre chicken chasseur been cooked and served like this before? this shit can keep me awake at night (not really)

the dishes in question here are not traditional classics, Achatz and Dufresne are trying their level best to be ahead of the game in their technique and presentation development.

this doesn't mean that as soon as something has been invented it isn't fair game, because I'm sorry I beleive it is, my laboured point here (and there is one and I'm getting closer to it) is that as soon as something hits the open market and is enjoyed and understood, then we as chefs should be inspired and take a new flavour combination or a different technique and use it to the fullness of our skill, this way the journey can continue and food can then genuinely evolve.

we have all copied recipes exactly from books (ok maybe Chef Cantu hasn't) just to understand the process, I will try it for the family and then get opinions back. Heston did his training from eating and practising from exact recipes.

The difference here is that chef Robin has got to the stage where he can execute the exact dish, and then stopped and gone to make some money from it. WRONG!!!!!!

I know nothing of his past before this debate, so will not venture opinion on anything except what I have seen visually here.

When I sat down to write this note, I said "do not bash him about this", sorry I appear to have failed, a quick note to chef Robin, remember you attained your awards before this debarkle ensued and I'm sure by non-direct copying, you have skill and flair, basically you have done it before and sure you can do it again.

Alex.


after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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Two more newspaper stories appeared today regarding this issue.

The first, from the Sydney Morning Herald, titled "A grain of truth and a pinch of salt," appears to be a fairly extensive piece -- the online version runs four pages. I think it's the best piece done to date on the issue, and it contains some welcome questioning of the "you can't copyright a recipe" conventional wisdom -- though I think the larger point to be made is that this isn't copying of a recipe (the idea) but rather copying of a finished dish, the preparation, plating and even naming (the execution of the idea) so I'm not sure the recipe copyright issue is even relevant. Unfortunately, Wickens continues to cling to the claim that "I didn't try to claim the credit for them" (for the replicated dishes, that is). The repetition of this statement is, at least for me, the reason it's hard to let the Wickens matter rest. The Morning Herald, in my opinion correctly, observes, "Wickens's defence appears to express regret primarily for being caught." I think it's also worth pointing out that the statements, repeatedly made, that Wickens never tried to take credit for the dishes is absurd. It would be like an author saying, "I copied that other author's words, but never claimed they were mine." Well, you put your name on the book, you put your name on the menu, and these aren't dishes like Caesar salad that are part of common culinary knowledge and culture. Serving them and not attributing them equals claiming they're yours.

The second, which is now I believe the third story in the Age about this, is titled "Is copying a fancy dish flattery?" I think this statment, based on interviews with two chefs, is a good summary: "But there is a difference, Grossi and Claringbold say, between inspired creation and mimicry. One is a perfectly acceptable way for a chef to build their own style, the other morally questionable."


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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and these aren't dishes like Caesar salad that are part of common culinary knowledge and culture.

The dish takes care of the accreditation in itself


after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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yes, it would be foolish to copy someone famous' work.  and i guess if this guy didn't get all these awards and press coverage....if he was just a so-so copyist, no one would ever have known. 

either way, he sort of ends up in the same... not so great place.

it has a certain elegance. 

The Van Gogh was to illustrate a point.  Many people of course know the work.  So to pass it off as your own would be foolish, because eventually people would find out.  It seems that the chef took the liberties to copy, and he was found out.  Hence these posts. Like I said it would be foolish for someone to pass off someones work as there own

Not just foolish, but if it is a direct case of copying and no attribution, it is also immoral and independently wrong whether or not one is caught. I think I learned this distinction as a child when my parents taught me that it was wrong to cheat or lie independent of being caught or even if I felt the ends justified the means.

Do you think the people who gave him awards and called him innovative knew that the majority of his menu copied other chefs?

Do you think he would have received those accolades if he gave the credit that most here think he should have?

I think it is important to note that all awards and accolades were received or decided well before his trip to the US.

This is not a statement of defence, but a statement of fact. Speculate from it what you will.

I'm glad that the chef received awards before this incident and that you also pointed it out here. Perhaps it will aid, in some measure, in rebuilding his reputation and more concretely, it may indicate that he has the means to independently and creatively make his own way in this field.


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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As mentioned above, those who plagiarize rarely need to. If you have the technical skill to copy the food served at Alinea and WD-50, it's probably harder to create the exact replicas than it is to do something different enough to call your own.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Do you think the people who gave him awards and called him innovative knew that the majority of his menu copied other chefs?

Do you think he would have received those accolades if he gave the credit that most here think he should have?

I think it is important to note that all awards and accolades were received or decided well before his trip to the US.

This is not a statement of defence, but a statement of fact. Speculate from it what you will.

Deco, you're clearly well-versed in the local scene down under and in the facts here. Do you think you could draw us up a timeline? I'd be interested to know when Interlude opened, what awards and reviews it received and when, when Wickens traveled to the US to observe and dine, etc.

Also, on the topic in the Australia forum, you called out several other restaurants in Australia that you felt were copying dishes from Fat Duck and other places. I think it would be interesting to repeat that list here. Is this type of conduct endemic to Australia? Is it global?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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yes i agree it's pretty immoral too, and i learned that from my parents as well.

very good call. that said, lots of people teach their kids that everything is theirs for the taking.

from what i know of human nature, i would be really suprised if this plagerism sprang up suddenly, realigning his moral compass like that ... it makes no sense to me at all, being that he was so succesful already. if it did suddenly happen on his trip to the US, then it's even more facinating to me.

i don't know how anyone can backtrack and find evidence that the menu was any more creative before his trip to america or not. i'd find it really interesting to know. i don't pretend to have the kind of knowledge or resources to verify this, and i'm not sure it would be possible without having old menus or photos from interludes and knowing a great deal about chefs' dishes at better places in austrailia, possibly the UK (where another dish was said to be from) wherever else this chef had staged at or visited. it's possible things could have been copied from books as well.

i'm not sure if anyone here knows the whole story, right now it seems to be a mystery.

yes, it would be foolish to copy someone famous' work.  and i guess if this guy didn't get all these awards and press coverage....if he was just a so-so copyist, no one would ever have known.  

either way, he sort of ends up in the same... not so great place.

it has a certain elegance. 

Not just foolish, but if it is a direct case of copying and no attribution, it is also immoral and independently wrong whether or not one is caught. I think I learned this distinction as a child when my parents taught me that it was wrong to cheat or lie independent of being caught or even if I felt the ends justified the means.

Do you think the people who gave him awards and called him innovative knew that the majority of his menu copied other chefs?

Do you think he would have received those accolades if he gave the credit that most here think he should have?

I think it is important to note that all awards and accolades were received or decided well before his trip to the US.

This is not a statement of defence, but a statement of fact. Speculate from it what you will.

I'm glad that the chef received awards before this incident and that you also pointed it out here. Perhaps it will aid, in some measure, in rebuilding his reputation and more concretely, it may indicate that he has the means to independently and creatively make his own way in this field.

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and how would you propose we we verify he was not copying from less famous sources at all before the trip to the US? because i'm not sure what you are claiming is the least bit relevant if we can't.

i have a hard time believing things suddenly took such a strange and unoriginal turn at Interludes because of one trip. but hey, i'm cynical, and i believe this is an issue of character.

everyone claims it's a first infraction when they get busted, and most try and minimize the situation that they are not totally drunk (or totally copying) when they most obviously are. and very often when people get away with things... well, they get bolder. that's human nature 101.

but if his menu was so much more original back then when he received awards, why would he sabotage himself like this? to go from not copying anything without credit ever to doing so for most of the menu.... such a huge sudden leap, it makes no sense at all to me.

i've never had much insight into the motivations of people who do things i regard as sleazy, so i couldn't begin to speculate. but it seems like there's still a lot of puzzle pieces missing here.

Do you think the people who gave him awards and called him innovative knew that the majority of his menu copied other chefs?

Do you think he would have received those accolades if he gave the credit that most here think he should have?

I think it is important to note that all awards and accolades were received or decided well before his trip to the US.

This is not a statement of defence, but a statement of fact. Speculate from it what you will.

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Wow, this is fascinating. As a young culinarian I knew I could get in trouble for copy and paste during culinary school. In fact I did, but proved I had cited properly and the teacher didn't know it was allowed with citations. What I didn't know was that such ramifications could enter into my culinary career. In fact what surprises me most is that I thought most of the food I made WAS a copy, of what others before me had made.

Anyone can easily see that taking somone elses ideas and taking credit for them is just bad, but shouldn't it be a thing for Karma to sort out....Versus paying the already rich lawyers? I would think it would make Chefs feal great to know their ideas are being passed around and Globalised. That a new concept was becoming the new trend, that they will eventually go down in the hostory book immortalised as a for-runner of something great. Those who copied might get some credit but wasn't it also that copying that causes a movement to move forward? Isn't the bad press nothing more than fuel to the evolution of an idea?

I have studied Martial Arts for many years now and have studied many different styles. So many times I have seen a reverse punch called many different names. By many different Masters of their craft. I have seen countless Martial artist claim they have invented the new style that incorperates all other styles. In the end all they do is make the next generation start, and further push the Arts to the next generation. When somone is a student of another Martial artist and then opens their own studio with a new name to the style but it is 100% the same, should he be sued? Should he even really be scrutinized? Yet, somone invented the word legal and now money and lawyers destroy the ability to copy anything.

The worst part I see is making money off of another persons idea....sitting down and taking it could be worst to others, but isn't that nothing more than an opinion and which side of the fence you are on?

I really hope cooking doesn't become and endless supply of patents and copyrights to declair who can cook what and how. Like martial arts its a trade and an art, its pure.

Once the purity is gone, how much fun will it be?

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As mentioned above, those who plagiarize rarely need to. If you have the technical skill to copy the food served at Alinea and WD-50, it's probably harder to create the exact replicas than it is to do something different enough to call your own.

This is very far from being true IMO. In general, technical proficiency is much easier to achieve than creative inspiration. That's why every 16 year old who gets an electric guitar learns to play Purple Haze (granted, some better than others), but not too many end up being Jimi Hendrix. It's no different for cuisine. Certain aspects of creativity just cannot be taught, replication can be.

EJ

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I think I'd have to agree. It's manifestly easier to just replicate something.

To copy something you need the technical skill. To create it you need the technical skill Plus creativity, vrtuousity etc.

If you followed the FG's argument to its logical conclusion if I copy Recherche a la Temps Perdu out faithfully enough I can trump Marcel Proust. (That's a joke :biggrin: )


Edited by joesan (log)

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Try copying one of those dishes at home and you'll see.

Sure, it's easier to copy great literature than it is to write great literature, but that's because great literature can be copied with a photocopy machine or by retyping it into a word processor. There is no equivalent of a photocopy machine or word processor for cooking. Likewise, the Jimi Hendrix example is backward: the hardest thing would be to play exactly like Jimi Hendrix, and for anyone who had the skill to play exactly like Jimi Hendrix it would be easier just to play than to mimic him exactly. It wouldn't likely come out better than Jimi Hendrix, but it would be easy to be different. Not to mention, giving credit takes no effort, but that's a different issue.

If you think about how cooking works for a moment, you'll see that it's more difficult to copy a technically demanding dish from a restaurant exactly than it is to produce something different. If a dish has three technically demanding elements it's easier to reproduce one of them and serve it with garnishes you already know how to make, on whatever serviceware you have around or can get from your local supplier, than it is to reproduce all three elements of the original dish exactly and serve them on identical serviceware from halfway around the world in a picture-perfect copy of the original. It doesn't take a creative genius to make prawn noodles with lobster instead of prawns and to serve them with, say, a piece of lobster.

A chef who introduced minor variations such as these might not be terribly creative, but he wouldn't be a plagiarist. If you look at the photos on the first page here, what you see is the work not of someone who needed to copy, but rather of someone who wanted to.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steven - the Proust thing was a little joke - it doesn't stand up to any scrutiny.

But I can't agree with your premise though. I think you are not differentiating between craftsmanlike cooking and truly creative cooking.

I agree that when you look at the "he who must not be named"' examples he is a good craftsman and is able to copy the dishes to a high standard. And that takes some skill I agree. Quite a lot in fact to get them looking so passably close to the originals. But as I said earlier it must de facto take more skill to both come up with the concept of the dish and be able to craft it.

I can see that you probably mean that good skills would be required to replicate but I cannot agree that that could ever be better than to come up with the original ideas and then execute them. To me that is the difference between good craftsman like practitioners (of which there are legion) and true artists (of which there are considerably less).

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I agree with that, however what I said was "If you have the technical skill to copy the food served at Alinea and WD-50, it's probably harder to create the exact replicas than it is to do something different enough to call your own."


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Mmm...looks like we just have to agree to disagree on this one. I can't see that theres anyway that it can be harder to copy than create. Does this mean the copyist is more talented than the originator?

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I don't think we have to agree to disagree. I think I have to explain myself better. I'm not saying it's easier to create the dish than it is to copy it. I'm saying that, especially with dishes involving so much technical proficiency, it's easier or certainly just as easy to follow the process with enough variation to avoid outright plagiarism than it is to copy exactly in the manner of a plagiarist. Nor am I saying the variant dish will be as good. It will, however, be different. At this point, though, if I haven't made my point clearly enough I'll just drop it.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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OK, maybe it's easier to make something different. But to make something different that's at least as good or better, not so easy. If you have the technical skill to recreate something difficult, you probably also know when your creations don't stack up. The problem can be that people gain an understanding of what's exceptional and what isn't before they are able to create things that really are exceptional (and they may never be able). Those people are not ready to be in positions where exceptional creativity is called for, such as chef of a restaurant that touts its "exceptionally creative cuisine." With so much on the line, and pressure to create, the realisation that the inspiration is not there could conceivably lead one down a dark road. Easier then to copy than create. Just a hypothesis.

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    • By mjbarnard
      I cooked two turkey breasts sous vide. This year had access to the Meater+ thermometer probe which I managed to vacuum seal in the bag without difficulty (it is small). Since it works wirelessly I was able to monitor and it records the internal temperatures at the thickest part of the breast.
      I thought the results were interesting. I cooked at 60C for 8 hours. I have always used https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/a-better-way-to-turkey-cook-that-bird-sous-vide-for-the-best-feast-ever which gives long cooking times at lower temperature. I have found that as according to this page https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/11/sous-vide-turkey-breast-crispy-skin-recipe-thanksgiving.html that 55C gives turkey which is just a little too pink for most tastes. Over the last few years have increased the temperature up to 59/60 and I find it perfect - very moist and tender, but pale not pink.
      See attached images. I changed my mind a couple of times and started at 58 then 60 then 59 again, so ignore the slight variations. The thing I found interesting was that the thickest part (of a large breast) reached 55C in around 1 hour 40 mins and target of 59 in 2 hours 30 mins. Now I appreciate that sous vide is a combination of temperature and time or duration, but the data make me think that around 4 hours would be sufficient, as per the seriouseats table. I have previously used the chefsteps 55-58 for their much longer advised times, up to 12 hours and the meat is still quite pink at the end, so I dont believe 55 for 12 hours would effectively be the same.
      From now on I will watching the internal temperatures with interest. This has always been the (relative) unkown for sous vide amateurs. 


    • By chefg
      I have to say designing the Alinea kitchen has been one of the most exciting experiences thus far in the opening of this restaurant. I have been fortunate to have been “raised” in some of the best kitchens in the country. When I arrived at the French Laundry in August 1996 the “new kitchen” had just been completed. Often times you would hear the man talk about the good old days of cooking on a residential range with only one refrigerator and warped out sauté pans with wiggly handles. When I started about 50% of the custom stainless steel was in place. The walls smooth with tile and carpet on the floors. I recall the feeling of anxiety when working for fear that I would dirty up the kitchen, not a common concern for most cooks in commercial kitchens.
      The French Laundry kitchen didn’t stop, it continued to evolve over the four years I was there. I vividly remember the addition of the custom fish/canapé stainless unit. Allowing the poissonier to keep his mise en place in beautiful 1/9 pan rails instead of the ice cube filled fish lugs. Each advancement in technology and ergonomics made the kitchen a more efficient and exacting machine.
      When I returned to the Laundry this past July for the 10th anniversary I was shocked that it had metomorphisized once again. The butcher room was now a sea of custom stainless steel low boys, the pot sink area was expanded, the walk-in moved, and an office added to the corner of the kitchen. The kitchen as I left it in June of 2001 was beautiful and extremely functional, of course it is even more so now. It is the relentless pursuit of detail and concise thought that allows the French Laundry kitchen to be one of the best for cooks to execute their craft…..16 hours a day.
      This was good motivation.
      When it came time to design my kitchen I drew on experiences at Trio, TFL and other kitchens I was familiar with to define the positives and negatives of those designs. We were faced with a 21x 44' rectangle. This space would not allow for my original kitchen design idea of four islands postioned throughout the kitchen, but ultimately gave way for the current design which I think is actually better than the original. But most the important aspect in shaping the final design was the cuisine. Due to the nature of food that we produce a typical layout with common equipment standards and dimensions do not work. Here is where the team drew on our experiences from Trio. By looking at the techniques we utilized we came to several conclusions.
      1. A conventional range was not our main heat source. We do need the flat tops and some open burners for applications such as braising and limited stock work. But our overall use of this piece of equipment is somewhat low. Given that we wanted four open burners and two flat tops with two ovens I began to source out a reliable unit. We settled on the Molteni G230.

      2. Upon analyzing our other heat source needs we decided to place a large focus on induction. By utilizing portable induction burners we are allowed the flexibility to give as much power as needed to a specific station in the kitchen. Obviously induction’s radiant heat is very low, and this allows us to keep the temperature in the kitchen reasonable, yet the power is quite high. 31,000 BTU's of highly controlable heat. But the main reason for choosing this flexible source of heat is the fact that each chef typically employed at least four different cooking applications on a given night. This huge flux in technique and the realization that the menu would change entirely in 8 weeks time meant that we had to design a kitchen that could evolve on a nightly basis. And last, we are very specific with temperatures; induction makes it easier for us to hold a liquid at a predetermined temperature for long periods of time without fluctuation. They operate between 85 and 500 degrees farenheit. We did a great deal of research on the different producers of induction and favored Cooktek. The fact that they are the only U.S manufacturer of commercial induction cooking equipment and located in Chicago made the decision easier. Their innovative approach to induction may prove to be even more exciting as we are already talking about new product development in the future.

      3. a. The complexity of the presentations and a la minute plate-ups of the food require a great deal of surface area devoted to plating. This was one of the most critical factors in determining the basic shape of the kitchen. The size of some of today's popular plates, the amount detail in each composition, coupled with the fact that producing tasting menus vs. ala carte means sometimes large waves of same dish pick ups made it necessary for us to have over 44' of linear plating surface.
      b. Virtually nothing goes vertical above the 36” counter top in the space. All food, plates, equipment, and dry good storage are contained by under counter units. There are a few exceptions such as the infrared salamanders, the three-door refrigerator, and the hood. This allows all the cooks a clear line of communication between each other and the front staff. It allows me an easy sight line to survey the entire kitchen’s progress with a quick glance.
      Given these two points it seemed obvious that we needed to combine the two and create custom pieces that would fulfill both needs. Large spans of plating surfaces with all food and equipment storage below. As you can see we ended up with two 22’ long units. Each function as a pass and under counter storage.
      The building is 21’ wide wall to wall. This allowed us just enough space to create two lines on each exterior wall with their passes forming a 60” corridor for the pick up of plates and finishing of dishes.
      4. We decided to add a station to the kitchen. At Trio we had five including:
      a. pastry
      b. cold garde manger
      c. hot garde manger
      d. fish
      e. meat
      Now that we had more space, and the ability to give each station multiple heat
      sources regardless of their location in the kitchen, we could spread the workload even further. We also realized it doesn’t make much sense to identify each station by classic French Bragade terms. A saucier did not solely cook meat with classic techniques and prepare various traditional stocks and sauces…in fact quite the opposite. This holds true with most of the stations, with the exception of pastry, but even they will have very unconventional techniques, menu placement and involvement in the kitchen systems. We will add a station that will be responsible for a large majority of the one-bite courses both sweet and savory.
      5.Given the size constraints of the building we realized a walk-in would not be possible in the kitchen. If we were to have one it would be in the basement. Having experienced this at Trio we decided to design the kitchen without a walk-in, making up for the space in various lowboy locations and a three-door reach-in. I experienced the walk-in less environment when I worked at Charlie Trotter’s. It is certainly different, but as with most things if done properly it provides a very efficient environment. It works best in situations where fresh products are brought in daily for that days use. And prevents ordering in large quantities. It also provides us with very specific units to house different items. We will utilize the 3-door refrigerator to store the majority of the vegetables and herbs along with some staple mise en place, and items that cannot be made in very small quantities like stocks. Raw meat will have it’s own lowboys as well as fish, dairy, and all frozen products.
      6. At Trio we found ourselves using the salamander a great deal. It is very useful for melting sugar, bringing on transparent qualities in things like fat and cheese, cooking items intensely on only one side, and it is a highly controllable non-direct heat source. Due to the air gap between the foodstuff and the heat elements the cook can control the degree of heat applied to the dish based on the technique he is using. It becomes a very versatile tool in the modern kitchen, so much so that we will install three Sodir infrared salamanders.

      Again, this is to insure that all the cooks have access to all of the techniques in the kitchen. As I said before it is important for our cooks to be able to sauté, simmer, poach, fry, grill, salamander, and freeze at the same time and sometimes for the same dish.
      We have a few unusual pieces of equipment in the kitchen; the most is probably a centrifuge. A few months ago Nick and I were driving home from a design meeting and ended up talking about signature dishes and menu repetition. Of course the black truffle explosion came up and he asked if I would have it on the menu at Alinea. I replied a firm no, but shortly thereafter said I would enjoy updating it. We threw around some tongue and cheek ideas like White Truffle Implosion, and Truffle Explosion 2005….I said it was a goal of mine to make a frozen ball with a liquid center….but then dismissed it as nearly impossible. Within a few minutes he said …”I got it…we need a centrifuge” His explanation was simple, place the desired liquid in a spherical mold and place on the centrifuge…place the whole thing in the freezer. Within days he had one in the test kitchen. I guess this is better suited for the kitchen lab topic that we will be starting in a few weeks…
      We are working on a upload of the kitchen blueprints. When those post I plan on going into more detail about certian aspects of the design. Doing so now would be pointless as the viewer does not have a reference point.
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