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Debayser - its not a kangaroo court - it's a discussion of the values and implications of wholesale reproduction of other chefs dishes without attribution. That's what these forums are for - people are entitled to their opinions and may voice them freely.

He is a great chef and wouldn't do something so stupid.

He quite literally has done it. I am sure he is not stupid, a little foolish maybe...

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i think we've moved beyond lynching chef robin...now we are onto a discussion of, realistically, where we are going as an industry as a whole. the mention of salmon and sorrel was an apt analogy, as that (when the troisgros brothers chose to flaunt tradition by offering something so simply presented) was a time of transition for the industry, much as today is. in recent times we have seen the growth of intellectual property as a keystone of the postmodern culinary revolution; wylie dufresne has his shrimp noodles and gums, grant achatz has his black truffle explosion and wild service pieces, homaro cantu has his edible paper and aropmatic utensils.

my understanding of culinary history is limited; i have been a cook now for about six years; i have read books like california dish, by jeremiah tower; michael ruhlman's books, etc. i consider myself relatively well-versed in this field. It seems to me that the process of growth in our field has always been one of building upon the work of others. nowadays we have chefs who have been trained in classical and semi-classical tradition breaking away and defining new boundaries, refusing to be beholden to the precepts of yore.

(gettin a little dramatic here...sorry)

anyway, we have techniques which are being pioneered by chefs which will have a lasting impact on our industry. i can't say for sure where we will all be in ten or twenty years; i know there will always be a market for stuff like tacos al pastor and pizza and pasta primavera...will anyone, in twenty years' time be saying, darn, wish that vapor joint on the corner hadn't closed, where am i going to get my aromas now?

we see things like sous-vide, sodium alginate, liquid nitrogen, gums, transglutaminase, precision cooking (to tenths of a degree!) in immersion circulators, lasers, vapors, antennae, etc. we need to decide where to draw the line: everyone sautees fish, right? throw some orange peel in the pan, some butter...whatever. nothing new. cook the fish sousvide? hmmm...glue it to another piece of fish? ok, interesting...pureee it and make it into fish "caviars" with alginate? tres novelle...just don't use the same plateup and description as someone else.

i've experimented with activa. because of wd-50? yep. did i try shrimp noodles? yep, to understand how it works. when i do something with activa, am i going to credit wylie dufresne? no, unless i am grinding shrimp and setting it with activa. if i glue two pieces of beef together to create a ridiculously thick flank steak i'm not going to credit wylie because he didn't invent the enzyme, just paved the way. chefs and hardcore foodies will understand that anyone playing with transglutaminase is walking along the path that wylie presented for us, but that we have to make our own discoveries along the way. outright copying of what he has done is not something i would (i think!!!) want to waste my time on, unless it was as a stepping stone toward something new...

ok i'll sign off cuz i'm not making much sense...

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Actually Mike, I think you made a lot of sense. I think you captured the essesnce of the subtle differences of what is acceptable and what is not.

It is no longer Chef Robin that is being discussed (at least not by most), but the concepts involved. The situation from his restaurant merely provides what seems to be a clear example. Personally, I would prefer that neither his name nor that of any other individual come up again in this topic.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The debate has reached the ears of the UK-based paper The Guardian.

An extract:

Either way, does it really matter whose idea it was to mix flour and water, add some vegetables and cook it on a hot stone? Can a recipe - as some of the world's top restaurateurs and food experts are now asking - ever be considered intellectual property?

An altogether more complex dish has prompted this debate on the online food forum, eGullet, this week. The recipe, in brief: prawns are pureed using an enzyme called transglutiminase, extruded into a noodle, cooked, and served with smoked yoghurt, paprika and nori. Not the sort of meal that two chefs separated by 10,355 miles are likely to invent at the same time.

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has his wild service pieces

just don't use the same plateup and description as someone else.

You make some good points Mike.

In doing so you also bring up something I've yet to touch on - and this is in no way a jab at anyone, I really want to know and I think it's relevent.

As to me it seems that plating has been one of the major issues here.

How is this particular subject going to be affected now that the Alinea service pieces in question are commercially available from Crucial Detail?

How many ways are there to plate on a squid and a bow or an antenna?

If you buy these things and use them are you automatically limited to the ingredients you can use?

Or are you simply copying by using one in the first place?

Or does that notion disappear because you bought it and the chef made it available for sale?

Edit: Also if things like the pictured Crate and Barrel candle holder (correct me if I'm wrong) are used by someone - does that make it off limits to others - or do they simply have to use different ingredients?


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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has his wild service pieces

just don't use the same plateup and description as someone else.

You make some good points Mike.

In doing so you also bring up something I've yet to touch on - and this is in no way a jab at anyone, I really want to know and I think it's relevent.

As to me it seems that plating has been one of the major issues here.

How is this particular subject going to be affected now that the Alinea service pieces in question are commercially available from Crucial Detail?

How many ways are there to plate on a squid and a bow or an antenna?

If you buy these things and use them are you automatically limited to the ingredients you can use?

Or are you simply copying by using one in the first place?

Or does that notion disappear because you bought it and the chef made it available for sale?

Edit: Also if things like the pictured Crate and Barrel candle holder (correct me if I'm wrong) are used by someone - does that make it off limits to others - or do they simply have to use different ingredients?

Nathan, I think this has been hounded to death. It seems pretty clear to me that the issue that has generally been found to be a problem is the direct copying of a dish including ingredients, serving pieces and plating style without attribution. I think all people are asking is a good faith effort to make a dish either one's own or to give reasonable credit if that is not possible. I don't believe anyone here has been disallowing the notion of influence on a cuisine, a recipe or a style. I say a good faith effort because simply putting a sprig of parsley on a different part of a plate that is essentially otherwise the same probably would not qualify as such. If a chef is going to use an unusual serving piece and does something to put his or her own stamp on it - great.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Interesting Guardian article above.

In thinking about the situation a bit more, I'm coming to the position that the furore being stirred up about the Australian event is unwise, unfair and out of proportion to any harm done to anybody. Australia is, after all, on the other side of the world, and the opportunities for most residents there ever to try the interesting cookery going on in Spain, Chicago, the London suburbs, or the Lower East Side of Manhattan are pretty limited. Importing those techniques and executing those dishes is a service to that side of the world, and to gastronomy in general since the dishes do indeed spur interest in avant garde gastronomy. I think everybody reading this will agree that advancing interesting gastronomy is a good thing.

What possible harm could possibly have been done to anybody? Has Alinea, or WD-50 lost a significant number of customers due to this occurrence? Has anybody's reputation been damaged? Have any brand names lost any goodwill in their marketplace?

The harm being nominally evoked here is that "plagiarism" has been committed. In a kitchen, this is a nebulous victimless transgression that has been imported from academia into gastronomy. Academia is a different situation entirely, as its whole reason for existence is to produce novel thoughts that further explore the thoughts of earlier academics. In academia, plagiarism demolishes that goal by recirculating an old thought rather than creating new ones. Gastronomy is not about the constant progression from one dish to the next, but rather towards finding what dishes please the dining public at the moment. The applicability of the meme of plagiarism to cooking is, I think, suspect. Cooking has always been more consciously about replicating the successful dishes of others than requiring or striving for novelty in all things. Just look at the Ruhlman book's exploration of the Certified Master Chef test, which in large part appears to be a test of one's ability to memorize and reproduce Escoffier's recipes. If that is not an institutional endorsement of exact replication in gastronomy, then I don't know what is.

The harm really being evoked here, it seems to me, is lese majeste... a wound to the dignity of the chefs whose dishes have been replicated. That sort of harm is not one that the law, or our society anymore, views as compensable most of the time. This is essentially a case of bad manners... maybe.


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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This is essentially a case of bad manners... maybe.

And here I was thinking it was about ethics.

While each discipline needs to define the boundaries of plagiarism for itself, it is not correct to say it exists only in academia. The prohibition of plagiarism -- "to steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one's own" (Merriam-Webster) -- is a fundamental ethical precept in most any creative discipline that takes itself seriously, be it literature (not just academic literature but also, of course, novels and journalism), art or music. Too many people are too hung up on intellectual property law issues and tangible harms, which, while interesting, are not relevant to the ethical transgression of plagiarism -- the theft of ideas and the fraudulent representation of those ideas as original.

Now, Chef Robin -- who seems hell bent on earning quotes around the word chef -- has told the Guardian: "At no time did I try and claim that I invented any of the dishes that I had experienced in the US and recreated at Interlude." It's hard to think of a more disingenuous characterization of the facts, and it's hard to think of a more reluctant apology than: "I guess I did something bad and have to pay the punishment - but it happens a lot more regularly than people realise."

Wylie Dufresne's statement is also unfortunate: "We all plagiarise all the time. All we can do is stand on the shoulders of the people before us. It's a grey area. None of us is completely innocent." This misunderstanding of plagiarism, which I thought we dealt with here upthread, equates the conduct of an artist inspired by other artists with the conduct of a thief. Inspiration is not plagiarism. Tricking people into calling all inspiration plagiarism is the oldest trick in the plagiarist's book of weaseling out of responsibility. And it is an insult to all the hard-working, honest chefs who try to create and be original to say "We all plagiarise all the time." I don't think Wylie Dufresne is a plagiarist in any way, shape or form, but even if he believes he plagiarizes "all the time" he should speak only for himself. Wylie Dufresne is a victim here, and his forgiveness is a testament to his generosity of spirit, but here he goes too far.


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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Nathan, I think this has been hounded to death.

With all due respect Doc, you may classify what I'm doing as hounding - but in reality I am simply responding to things as they are brought to bear by others.

Granted - what I am saying is not pleasant - but it is not in anger.

We have chefs who are copying who do not want to be copied, who have people working for free in their restaurants where the very point of the trade off is to be able to take what you learn and use it.

We have chefs who are copying who do not want to be copied who are offering for sale items that encourage you to copy them.

I feel a position has to be chosen.

We have chefs who say that they are "creating at a more efficient pace than the commercial food industry" whom are raising their fists in the air and saying "it's time to start thinking like them" - "it's time to take back what is ours".

My position is that no chef has "their" gums - they have gums like transglutaminase and all the others that were invented by companies to do exactly what they are being used to do - no one is "using transglutaminase as a meat glue"..... transglutaminase IS a meat glue that was designed to take meat that has been taken apart in any number of ways and put it back together - that's how they make whole boneless fish and all the other products mentioned at the bottom of that page.

No chef has "their" edible paper unless they made the edible paper themselves and no chef can be given credit for inventing printing edible images on edible paper - because that existed long ago.

Chefs, at one time or another CREATED what they lay claim to - they didn't buy it off the internet. If no one can ever fucking make "shrimp noodles" with a commercially available product for doing such a thing then everyone who makes noodles out of flour and water is a thief.

This is not about "Social Entrepreneurship" - this is not about helping people out in the industry - this is about I DID THIS FIRST LOOK AT ME - this is about FAME, one only need read an old article in New City to know this too be true.

I think the term "in the world" is used way too loosely and I personally would not be sorry if I never saw it again - because frankly - and pardon my "French" - the world is a big motherfucker - with lots and lots and lots of extremely smart people doing fabulous things.

Someone earlier mentioned an Achilles heel, which together with being dramatic makes me think of Achilles himself and him speaking to his men at the battle of Troy:

"Myrmidons!*** My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what's waiting in that restau.... I mean, beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It's yours! "

Achilles could not be knocked off his high horse... because he was hiding inside it and burned Troy to the ground.

I personally think it's a fitting irony - that Achilles is most famous for his weakness.

Afterall - "he did it to himself".

So no more hounding my man - if what I have to say is not a welcome vantage point - if the people that brought this entire issue to light are allowed to defend themselves but we are not allowed to contradict them - then you will hear not another peep from me.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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This is essentially a case of bad manners... maybe.

And here I was thinking it was about ethics.

I'm a pragmatist. If there is no victim, and no harm, it doesn't matter how many ethical angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The overuse and misuse of the term plagiarize in this discussion just underscores my contention that it doesn't belong or fit in the kitchen.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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What possible harm could possibly have been done to anybody?  Has Alinea, or WD-50 lost a significant number of customers due to this occurrence?  Has anybody's reputation been damaged?  Have any brand names lost any goodwill in their marketplace?

What harm? Well, how about that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see your creativity being palmed off by someone else as their own. And them profiting from it? That feeling of having been in some way violated. It's really not nice.

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The Guardian's code of ethics is much less equivocal on this point than the article it ran on the subject:

"Plagiarism. Staff must not reproduce other people’s material without attribution. The source of published material obtained from another organisation should be acknowledged including quotes taken from other newspaper articles. Bylines should be carried only on material that is substantially the work of the bylined journalist."

http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guar...25/code2005.pdf


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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I think that the presumed ethical equivalence of cooking and writing is mistaken. Writers are accustomed to having property rights and consequent powers to exclude. There is no property right in cooking a dish, and never has been.

Looking at a cooking situation through a writer's lens brings up writerly codes of ethics and presumptions. Why do they necessarily apply?


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Looking at a cooking situation through a writer's lens brings up writerly codes of ethics and presumptions.  Why do they necessarily apply?

We've heard from chefs. For example, Richard Blais:

Taking someones dish, every detail, and presenting it in the exact same way sounds unbelievable to me. I haven't seen these pics, but it sounds as if they are exactly the same. If that is the case, with no credit, it's messed up.

And we've heard from restaurateurs. For example, Nick Kokonas:

In this case, numerous dishes were copied more or less verbatim from several US restaurants.  There were only pictures of a few (and there are 3 more pictured examples not shown here), but others were described identically -- 17 in all that I counted.  And the intent was clearly to show these completed ideas as his own.... for enjoyment, profit, and the accolades from the press.  Seeing how hard Chef G and the team at Alinea work to create these produced a very visceral response from me personally.

Again, plagiarism is a concept in ethics that applies to all creative endeavors. It's not limited to academia, nor is it limited to the written word.


Edited by Fat Guy (log)

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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if the harm isn't felt or acknowledged by you it's not happening, eh? same as your contention that plagerism happens only in non-fiction. utter nonsense.

you may not understand or care about cultural currency, but it is out there in music art and fashion. people involved in these areas are respected and rewarded for innovation, so it matters very much (to both the fans and artists) who did what, how- and who did it first.

you maybe comfortable buying music or food from a hack- a total copyist- but many creative people - or big food or music fans will not, and for good reasons.

this will be robins only punishment- he will actually have to do the hard labor to create his own dishes and earn respect for his own work- or try to find an audience of people who don't know- or like yourself care- that the food is a clone. he'll do fine, disneyworld does fine too. doesn't mean we are obligated to say nice things about disney, does it?

just because it's not something you can't measure or judge in your court of law doesn't mean it's insignificant. It's the very lifeblood of these segments of culture, of course has value, and it matters greatly to those involved in the creative process.

This is essentially a case of bad manners... maybe.

And here I was thinking it was about ethics.

I'm a pragmatist. If there is no victim, and no harm, it doesn't matter how many ethical angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The overuse and misuse of the term plagiarize in this discussion just underscores my contention that it doesn't belong or fit in the kitchen.

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if the harm isn't felt or acknowledged by you it's not happening, eh? same as your contention that plagerism happens only in non-fiction.  utter nonsense.

you may not understand or care about cultural currency, but it is out there in music art and fashion.

Interestingly to me, Slate ran an article recently about how the fashion world is coming to terms with this issue. As with cooking, you can't just cut and paste the rules from literature, scholarship or for that matter music into these fields because (in my opinion) the nature of the product is so different. That doesn't mean no rules can apply.

As for the argument about "no harm no foul"-- this comes up all the time in every kind of discussion about copying and it's usually obviously ungrounded.

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Too many people are too hung up on intellectual property law issues and tangible harms, which, while interesting, are not relevant to the ethical transgression of plagiarism -- the theft of ideas and the fraudulent representation of those ideas as original.

Fat Guy nails it again.

(Of course, he's stealing it all from his dad.) (Just kidding.)

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And it is an insult to all the hard-working, honest chefs who try to create and be original to say "We all plagiarise all the time." I don't think Wylie Dufresne is a plagiarist in any way, shape or form, but even if he believes he plagiarizes "all the time" he should speak only for himself. Wylie Dufresne is a victim here, and his forgiveness is a testament to his generosity of spirit, but here he goes too far.

On the contrary - Wylie - I applaud and appreciate your admittance that you are not innocent and that you did not invent enzyme noodles - though you may have been the first to make them with prawns and that your noodles can be traced back to The Fat Duck.

edited to remove the reference to the song "Good Morning Captain" and any reference to hounds and add a reference to ducks.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Nathan, for the record, I don't think you're hounding. I do, however, think you're failing to see the forest for the trees. It's not plagiarism to say "you're failing to see the forest for the trees." It's just use of common language. Now if I wrote "But it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation" without attributing Melville...

I agree that Wylie is being honest. But I also think he's wrong (you too): he's buying into the nihilist notion that all inspiration is plagiarism. It isn't. Certainly, there are gray areas. Certainly, proving a case of culinary plagiarism is quite difficult. That's why the egregious acts described herein above are so important: they establish such a clear case that we can set the red herring of gray areas aside for the moment and focus on the important issues. Maybe someone else will do something that falls into a gray area. That's not what happened here. I also wonder if Wylie, Grant, et al., will continue to be so forgiving in light of the private apologies they received now that the apologist is telling newspapers "At no time did I try and claim that I invented any of the dishes that I had experienced in the US and recreated at Interlude."


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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Nathan, for the record, I don't think you're hounding. I do, however, think you're failing to see the forest for the trees. It's not plagiarism to say "you're failing to see the forest for the trees." It's just use of common language. Now if I wrote "But it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation" without attributing Melville...

I agree that Wylie is being honest. But I also think he's wrong (you too).

Love you Fat Guy - I mean no ill will towards you - nor do I take any from you.

We just disagree.

I'm not looking at the forest, I'm not even looking at the trees. I'm going much deeper than that and looking at the leaves on the trees in the forest. Because those elements are what make up both tree and forest. And any and all are free to think I'm wrong and disagree, it doesn't make me wrong nor does it make me angry. And it doesn't make what I'm saying (or what you're saying) any less relevent.

It simply puts us at opposite ends of an argument and different levels of scrutiny - both of which exist outside and inside this forum.

Which adds to the balance of things.

:wink:


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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There seem to be gray areas all over the place. I'm actually surprised no one has brought this up...

Now I'm not trying to call anyone out here but it does illustrate the point that with this type of cuisine it will get harder and harder over time to distinguish between inspiration and copying. For the record, I do not think Venue is guilty of anything here. Although the serving piece is the same as one used at Alinea, and discussed up-thread, the contents look different enough to avoid any charge of impropriety. This can go on and on and on...


Edited by jesteinf (log)

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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tks for the article, tess. there is a bit of overlap in the issues w/ food and fashion because the product involved is also one that can be very basic and necesary for survival (lamb shank, sheepskin) and require no creativity at all.. or it can be the product of a marriage of absolutely cutting edge technology and a briliant creative mind and represent the height of contemporary culture. and representing that height does result in prestige that will produce profits and sattelite business opportunities- more profitable than the original business. i see big opportunity for harm/ foul mucking that up when profits are based on innovation and someone's ripping you off.

it's facinating to me that people here refuse to make distinctions between the basic and the artful. creatives certainly have a disadvantage compared to the technical creators of this non-fiction in that non-creatives (say patent lawyers, judges) have a hard time quantifying their work, or assigning it value. if you can't break it down to a brand new scientific formula- then the business community is not apt to give you the patent, or much credit.

there's always been a bit of distain coming from money men towards artists- it's not real work, you'd do it for love anyway, why pay for your new project development when i can steal that idea over there? the internet has made this theft faster and easier, and more common. hence the "everyone does it" "we are all guilty" nonsense.

no, we do not and are not. that's the dodge of the guilty, who should only speak for themselves.

it seems this has become such a common attitude- whatever you can get away with is okay- my fear is that too few want to be bothered with ethics these days.

you may not understand or care about cultural currency, but it is out there in music art and fashion.

Interestingly to me, Slate ran an article recently about how the fashion world is coming to terms with this issue. As with cooking, you can't just cut and paste the rules from literature, scholarship or for that matter music into these fields because (in my opinion) the nature of the product is so different. That doesn't mean no rules can apply.

As for the argument about "no harm no foul"-- this comes up all the time in every kind of discussion about copying and it's usually obviously ungrounded.

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i'm not seeing grey at all- it's a completely differnt recipe. there's no smoking ANYTHING in the pipe. we are not talking about using just the same utensils, but ingredients, methods, plating and garnishes as well as menu descriptions. that's fairly black and white. it's not something as someone claimed above that someone can do without knowledge or intent, in fact it takes planning.

there's a slipperly slope, but this place, with 2/3 (quite possibly more) of its menu taken and copied exactly from others- is not on it, they are rock bottom.

of course a million grey areas can be cited, but i don't think that was the point at all.

There seem to be gray areas all over the place.  I'm actually surprised no one has brought this up...

Now I'm not trying to call anyone out here but it does illustrate the point that with this type of cuisine it will get harder and harder over time to distinguish between inspiration and copying.  For the record, I do not think Venue is guilty of anything here.  Although the serving piece is the same as one used at Alinea, and discussed up-thread, the contents look different enough to avoid any charge of impropriety.  This can go on and on and on...

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I know. I'm just saying when I first saw the pics I said to myself, "Hm, that looks familiar". After spending more time on it, I was completely satisfied that what I was looking at was evolution/inspiration and nothing more. My only point is that this type of cuisine brings up some interesting questions/discussions, much like this one. Kind of a bonus over the food actually tasting good. :wink:


-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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    • By newchef
      So I've now found myself at the water's edge of Modernist Cuisine.  Specifically, using sodium citrate for emulsifying all kinds of cheeses.  What I'm after is making an emulsified Parmesan sauce as well as another emulsified cheese sauce (most likely using Cheddar or Colby) that I can freeze and use later.  I'm a single guy and am no stranger of tweaking recipes for freezing but I haven't done it for modernist stuff yet.  I'd love to make a big batch of cheese sauce, freeze it into ice cubes for up to 3 months or so, and then take a few cubes out to thaw on a weeknight and toss with pasta, drizzle over veggies, etc.
       
      I looked at the modernist cuisine FAQ and saw this specific post about the cheese sauce that is "probably" freeze-able because it uses something called carageenan.  Has anyone been able to freeze sauce and keep it frozen for, say, a few months?  And not have to use carageenan?
       
      Thanks!
    • By WackGet
      Recently I picked up a few different types of emulsifiers in bulk powder form when I saw them in passing at a catering wholesaler.
       
      Having never used powdered emulsifiers before in cooking or baking, I figured I'd find pretty comprehensive instructions for their use on the web - but I can't.
       
      I'm not a stranger to food science but nor am I a chemist. I understand that emulsifiers are at least sometimes prepared by pre-mixing them into a (heated?) liquid or fat and then using the resulting solution in the actual recipe, which may explain why a lot of commercial emulsifier mixtures are packages as tubes of gel or paste. I've also checked several industry-level textbooks about emulsifiers and while they are fantastic for in-depth explanations of the chemistry behind each emulsifier, they do not (as you might imagine) provide guidance on how a lowly baker or cook would actually use a powdered form.
       
      So does anyone know how to prepare and use a dry powdered form of any of the following in a real recipe?
       
      Specifically I am most interested in enhancing baked goods and adding stability to sauces, but would also like to know how to use them for other processes such as sausage-making too.
      E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids E481 Sodium stearoyl lactylate E482 Calcium stearoyl lactylate E472e DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides)
        Thanks.
    • 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.
    • By ronnie_suburban
      It’s the first day of cooking in Alinea's Food Lab and the mood is relaxed. We’re in a residential kitchen but there’s nothing ordinary about it. Chef Grant, along with sous chefs John Peters and Curtis Duffy are setting up. The sight of the 3 steady pros, each in their chef’s whites, working away, does not match this domestic space. Nor does the intimidating display of industrial tools lined up on the counters. While the traditional elements are here in this suburban kitchen: oven, cooktop, sink, so too are the tools of modern restaurant cookery: pacojet, cryovac machine, paint stripping heat gun…wait, a paint stripping heat gun?
      In the physical realm, the Food Lab is a tangible space where the conventional and the unconventional are melded together in the quest for new culinary territory. With Alinea’s construction under way, the team must be resourceful. This meant that renting a space large enough to house both the office and the kitchen aspects of the food lab was out of the question.
      The decision was made to take over a large office space for the research and administrative aspects of Alinea and transform a residential kitchen into the Lab. Achatz and the team would work three days per week at the office researching all aspects of gastronomy and brainstorming new dishes, while managing the project as a whole. The remaining time would be spent in the kitchen executing the ideas formulated at the office. “At first I thought separating the two would be problematic,” says Grant “but in the end we are finding it very productive. It allows us to really focus on the tasks at hand, and also immerse ourselves in the environment conducive to each discipline.” The menus for opening night—containing as many as 50 never-before-served dishes--must be conceived, designed, tested and perfected. The Alinea team does not want to fly without a net on opening night.
      On a more abstract level, the Food Lab is simply the series of processes that continually loop in the minds of Chef Grant and his team. While there is no single conduit by which prospective menus--and the dishes which comprise them--arrive at Alinea, virtually all of them start in Chef Grant's imagination and eventually take form after brainstorming sessions between the Chef and his team. Menus are charted, based on the seasonality of their respective components, and the details of each dish are then laid out on paper, computer or both and brought to the kitchen for development. In this regard, the Food Lab provides something very special to the Chef and his team. “We consider the food lab a luxury,” says Grant. Once Alinea is open and the restaurant’s daily operations are consuming up to 16 hours of each day, time for such creative planning (aka play) will be scarce. Building a library of concepts, ideas and plans for future menus now will be extraordinarily valuable in the future. Otherwise, such planning sessions will have to take place in the 17th and 18th hours of future workdays, as they did when the Chef and his team were at Trio.
      Today, several projects are planned and the Chefs dig into their preparations as soon as their equipment setup is complete…
      Poached Broccoli Stem with wild Coho roe, crispy bread, grapefruit
      Stem cooked sous vide (butter, salt, granulated cane juice)
      Machine-sliced thin bread
      Dairyless grapefruit “pudding”
      Dried Crème Brulee
      Caramel orb shell made with bubble maker and heat gun
      Powdered interior made with dried butterfat, egg yolks, powdered sugar & vanilla
      PB&J
      Peeled grapes on the stem
      Peanut butter coating
      Wrap in brioche
      Broil
      Micro-grated, roasted peanuts
      Instant Tropical Pudding
      Freeze Dried Powders of coconut, pineapple, banana
      Young coconut water spiked with rum
      Muscovado Sugar
      Cilantro
      Candied Chili
      Jamaican Peppercorn
      Vanilla Bean
      The steps required to comprise each dish are, as one might imagine, intricate and numerous. For the Poached Broccoli Stem, Chef Grant begins by separating the broccoli stems from the florets. The stems are stripped of their fibrous exteriors and pared down until they are uniform in size. Grant comments on the use of the second hand part of the vegetable: “This dish started with the roe. Every year we receive the most amazing Brook Trout Roe from Steve Stallard, my friend and owner of Blis. Typically, we serve the eggs with an element of sweetness. I find it goes very well with the ultra fresh salinity of the week-old roe. This time around we wanted to take a savory approach so I began looking into complimenting flavors in the vegetal category. About the same time, our group had a discussion about secondary parts of vegetables and the stem of broccoli came up. I had a past experience with the stem and found it to be very reminiscent of cabbage. Knowing that cabbage and caviar are essentially a classic pairing, I felt confident that we could work the dish out. Now I'm struggling to decide if this is a broccoli dish or in fact a roe dish, I think they really battle for the top position and that helps makes the dish very complex."

      Chef Grant processing the broccoli

      The stems are placed in a polyethylene bag, along with butter, salt and granulated cane juice. The bag is sealed with a cryovac machine

      The sealed stems are placed in a 170 degree F water to cook, sous vide, until extremely tender; about three hours

      Broccoli stems after cooking
      The crisp bread element is fabricated via the use of an industrial deli slicer. Chef Grant then brushes the sectioned pieces of poached broccoli stem with eggwash, affixes them to the thin planks of brioche and places them in a fry pan with butter.

      Grant's mise...not your ordinary cutting board

      Poached Broccoli Stem and Crisp Bread cooking

      Ready for plating

      A bright green broccoli puree is made with a vita-prep blender. Here, Chef Grant "mohawks" it onto china given to him by Thomas Keller

      Smoked Coho roe has arrived via Fed-Ex, courtesy of Steve Stallard

      Chef Grant devises a plating scheme for the Poached Broccoli Stem while Curtis looks on

      Chef Grant ponders one potential plating of the dish. He called this incarnation 'predictable' and started over.

      Another plating idea. This version is garnished with broccoli petals and ultra-thin slices of connected grapefruit pulp cells. The yellow petals are stand-ins for what will ultimately be broccoli blossoms
      Grant is still displeased at the dish's appearance. "The dish tastes as I envisioned it....texturally complex, with the crispness of the bread, the soft elements of the floret puree and stem, and the pop of the eggs. The buttery richness from the bread gives the stem the flavor of the melted cabbage I loved at the [French] Laundry. And the hot and cold contrasts from the roe and broccoli …I like it…..I just don’t like the way it looks.” Another attempt and the group agrees, it is better but not “the one.” The use of the thinly sliced cross sections of peeled grapefruit energizes the group. In the next rendition, they make small packets with the ultra thinly-sliced grapefruit containing the roe...

      A third plating configuration for Poached Broccoli Stems; this one featuring the packets of roe wrapped in ultra thin sheets of grapefruit pulp cells
      At this point the team decides to move on and come back to it next week. After some conversation they decide that in the final dish, broccoli will appear in at least 5 forms: poached stems, floret puree, some raw form of the stem, the tiny individual sprouts of broccoli florets, and the blooms. Grant feels that Poached Broccoli Stem could be ready for service, although he still envisions some changes for the dish that will make it even more emblematic of his personal style. “Our dishes continue to evolve after they hit the menu. It is important for us to get to know them better before we can clearly see their weaknesses.”
      The thought for the dried crème brulee originated over a year ago when a regular customer jokingly asked for a crème brulee for dessert. “He said it as joke, I took it as a challenge,” says Grant. "Of course, we never intended to give him a regular crème brulee.” The team tried various techniques to create the powder-filled caramel bubble while at Trio to no avail. An acceptable filling for the Dried Crème Brulee has been developed by the Chef and his team but several different methods, attempted today, to create the orb from caramelized sugar have been less than 100% successful.

      Caramel blob awaiting formation. Chef Curtis kept this pliable by leaving it in a low oven throughout the day

      Chef Grant’s initial idea to use a metal bubble ring and heat gun (normally used for stripping paint) to form the bubbles does not work as hoped. Attempts to fashion them by hand also come up short.
      Says Grant, “At Trio we tried a hair-dryer. When Martin told me about these heat guns which get up to 900 degrees F, I thought we had it for sure. If it was easy everyone would do it I guess.” Eventually, Alinea partner Nick Kokonas garners the task’s best result by positioning a small, warm blob of sugar onto the end of a drinking straw and blowing into the other end. The results are promising. Curtis suggests using a sugar pump to inflate the orbs. That adjustment will be attempted on another day.
      “We intentionally position whimsical bite in the amuse slot, it tends to break the ice and make people laugh. It is a deliberate attempt to craft the experience by positioning the courses in a very pre-meditated order. A great deal of thought goes into the order of the courses, a misalignment may really take away from the meal as a whole.” For PB&J, the grapes are peeled while still on the vine and then dipped into unsweetened peanut butter. They are allowed to set–up, and then they are wrapped with a thin sheet of bread and lightly toasted. When the peeled grapes warm, they become so soft they mimic jelly. The composition is strangely unfamiliar in appearance but instantly reminiscent on the palate. PB&J is, according to Grant, virtually ready for service. There are a couple of aesthetic elements, which need minor tweaks but the Chef feels very good about today’s prototype.

      Chef John peels grapes while still on their stems

      Peeled grapes on their stems with peanut butter coating

      Chef Grant studies the completed PB&J in the Crucial Detail designed piece

      PB&J
      Often, creative impulses come by way of Alinea’s special purveyors. “Terra Spice’s support over the past couple of years has been unprecedented, and it has accelerated with the start of the food lab,” says Grant. “It is great to have relationships with people that think like we do, it can make the creative process so much easier. Often Phil, our contact at Terra, would come into the kitchen at Trio and encourage us to try and stump him on obscure ingredients. We always lost, but not from lack of trying. He even brought in two live chufa plants into the kitchen one day.” The relationship has developed and Terra team has really made an effort to not only search out products that the chefs ask for but also keep an eye out for new ingredients and innovations. In August, Phil brought by some samples of products that he thought the Alinea team might be interested in trying.

      Phil of Terra Spice showing the team some samples

      Coconut powder and other samples
      Grant recalls “the most surprising item to me was the dried coconut powder. When I put a spoonful in my mouth I could not believe the intense flavor and instant creamy texture, it was awesome.” That was the inspiration for what is now Instant Tropical Pudding. The guest is presented with a glass filled with dried ingredients. A member of the service team pours a measured amount of coconut water into the glass and instructs the guest to stir the pudding until a creamy consistency is formed.

      The rum-spiked coconut water being added to the powders
      At the end of the day, the Chefs assess their overall effort as having gone “fairly well.” It’s a mixed bag of results. Clearly, the fact that things have not gone perfectly on Day 1 has not dampened anyone’s spirits. The team has purposely attempted dishes of varying degrees of difficultly in order to maximize their productivity. Says Grant, “Making a bubble of caramel filled with powder…I have devoted the better part of fifteen years to this craft, I have trained with the best chefs alive. I have a good grasp of known technique. The lab's purpose is to create technique based on our vision. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail, but trying is what make us who we are." The team's measured evaluations of their day’s work reflect that philosophy.
      According to Chef Grant, “The purpose of the lab is to create the un-creatable. I know the level at which we can cook. I know the level of technique we already possess. What I am interested in is what we don't know...making a daydream reality.” With little more than 100 days on the calendar between now and Alinea’s opening, the Chef and his team will have their work cut out for them.
      =R=
      A special thanks to eGullet member yellow truffle, who contributed greatly to this piece
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