Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sharing Recipes


SweetSide
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm new at the pastry biz, and I'm starting to pick up a decent amount of business making cakes on the side.

In the past, when I was just another person who brought goodies to the office, I never had a problem sharing my recipes. However, now that I make money off of them, I'm hesitant to share the ones that can't readily be found. I don't mind sharing in eGullet because you all aren't potential clients and by sharing we (well, mostly me) all learn from each other.

For those of you who are professionals, when do you share recipes and when don't you share?

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a business prospective I wouldn't share anything that gives you (a) a competitive edge, (b) differentiates you from other cake makers © could be a new and innovative method /ingredient (which could be patentable)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i pretty always share. ultimately, we all tend to fuss and fidget with recipes pretty regularly...even our tried and true ones. so we don't have to communicate ALL the adjustments or additions we use for each recipe, right?

also, what is the likelihood that someone is actually going to make your recipe? i think some people just ask as their way of complimenting your work...i look at all of the cookbooks i have from famous chefs from which i have never made a recipe (and note that i am a food professional).

ultimately, it is up to you to share or not, but in my opinion it just isn't too big of a deal. with that said, i do understand your point of view.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

suggestion: Have a few pre-printed/email-ready recipes that you don't mind sharing. Then when someone requests a specific recipe, you can provide the one(s) of your choice, without totally offending anyone. They'll understand and appreciate the gesture. Done well and presented attractively the recipes can be nice marketing pieces.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

also, what is the likelihood that someone is actually going to make your recipe? 

You're right on with that one. Many people think they want to try it themselves - but when they read the recipe, or heaven forbid try it once for themselves, they realize that it's much much easier to just order it from you.

Another interesting thing I've noticed over the last couple of years - 95% of people who try one of my recipes change it in some way. Just today somebody said to me "I tried your carrot dill soup recipe - but I added a sweet potato". Hmm.

Having said that - I still don't give out certain recipes - depends who is asking and for which recipe. :biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i would have to change my response to mirror PamR...depends on who's asking.

also in response to the fact that people change your recipes...isn't that what we do here on eGullet all the time?

"here's the best darn butter cake recipe in the world" says baker A

"well, i tried it...added orange zest, replaced one egg with some crisco, used 4 parts all purpose flour and 1 part rice flour, took out all the leavening...all in all, i don't think it is the best butter cake at all" says baker B

hehehe!

that's half the fun, eh?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always share. I have never found myself needing a competitive edge so take my opinion lightly.

Also, if the only way I can beat Cindy Lou down the street is a "secret recipe" and not my raw talent and skill then why should I even care or enjoy what I do. A recipe doesn't make you, how you perform and dress that recipe is what makes you.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

depends who is asking and for which recipe.  :biggrin:

I ditto that. Plus it's alot of HOW they ask. If your rude asking, forget it.

It's weird because I rarely hestitate to give out a recipe to people I've never met on the internet, yet I almost always hestitate to give people I work with them. It's true that they can rarely reproduce the recipe as well. But then I don't want my name attached to the less then stellar product.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a business prospective  I wouldn't share anything that gives you (a) a competitive edge, (b) differentiates you from other cake makers © could be a new and innovative method /ingredient (which could be patentable)

I agree. I don't mind sharing recipes that I've gathered from books or other media and telling people where I got them, but if it's something I've created myself, then no. Business is business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is the main difference between the cakes and pastries that you are making and giving/selling now (after becoming a professional pastry person) from the cakes and pastries that you made and gave prior to your education?

My experience has been that since becomming a pastry person the types of things I make, the ingredients I use, the techniques involved, and the time invested have changed and make many items lesss inviting and accessible to people who would be interested in the recipe.

When someone asks me for a recipe it does depend on who they are, how they ask, how convenient it is for me to provide the recipe, my assessment of the person's ability to obtain the ingredients and master the techniques, muster the patience to pursue it.

I think it is great when someone responds so enthusiastically to something special that you have created and like it so much that they want to do it themselves. I feel bad though that frequently people want recipes for things that are a bit out of the ordinary: that involve gelatin sheets, almond flour, couverture; that require tolls that many people just don't have laying around; that are composed of several recipes, that require skills and timing, that take hours to complete.

When I was preparing for a competition and creating a special cake I basically forced everyone I knew to accept one, to sample some and a few people liked it so much they wanted the recipe. If it were only that simple. Which exact iteration of the cake did they try? Can they get the ingredients? Once they know what is involved will they follow through and make it?

I have been so committed to supporting others in their efforts to recreate something I did that I have given them pre-measured ingredients all set to go so that they had as little excuse not to do it as possible. I also checked back frequently to see how they did. Alas I expect thos dry ingredients are all sitting in their plastic bags in the back of someone's pantry.

I guess its sort of embarassing - like explaining exactly all the time and effort you put into styling your hair, getting made up - sometimes you just don't want people to know how much work went into something when it appears so beautifully effortless.

I believe that the odds of having something (hahahahaha) patentable are pretty slim. Now, if you are in a position where a recipe or presentation is something that you are on the verge of unveiling in a magazine spread or a forthcoming book, or competition or some such thing then maybe you delay giving out that recipe - but even then, the chances that providing this information to someone else will somehow have a direct influebce on you are slim.

I typically find that I am a much more enthusiastic giver of information than people are recievers of it. I consider it a huge success when I learn that against all odds someone who never even heard of an opera cake before a) loves it enough to want to make it b) is undaunted by the ingredients, techniques, time required to produce one c) actually follows through and makes something using the recipe I gave them when I really doubted that they completely understood the explanation about making it. I have also found that this actually cements their relationship to me as a professional and indeed does not set them free of me. They may start making their own opera cakes but now they trust me as a guide in further exploration.

Edited by chefette (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

depends who is asking and for which recipe.  :biggrin:

I ditto that. Plus it's alot of HOW they ask. If your rude asking, forget it.

It's weird because I rarely hestitate to give out a recipe to people I've never met on the internet, yet I almost always hestitate to give people I work with them. It's true that they can rarely reproduce the recipe as well. But then I don't want my name attached to the less then stellar product.

I guess this sums up how I was feeling. That's the same reason I don't hesitate to share on eGullet. None of you are my direct competition, nor are any of you a potential client. Perhaps that people are buying this stuff from me actually says something in itself -- they don't make the desserts themselves due to either lack of time, lack of skill, or lack of desire to make the mess in the kitchen!

I'll just keep using my judgement on a recipe by recipe basis.

Thanks for all your feedback!

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In general, I like to share recipes. There are a few that I have created and make the bulk of my money with that I really wouldn't share. I do think it's funny though, when people with no chocolate experience ask for a recipe thinking it's easy because I made it seem easy. I brought something to a party recently which was a variation of a recipe that I learned in a professional class which I paid a great deal of money to attend. I was asked for the recipe by one of the other guests a few weeks later. The way she asked was so matter of fact, like of course I would give her the recipe, surely it just came from a book and I could photocopy the page for her, you know? I understand that many recipes are that simple to share but this is my business, I spend time creating recipes, perfecting techniques. The woman was taken aback that I wouldn't share the recipe. I am happy to give her my banana bread or chocolate chip cookie recipe just not my special chocolate recipes. Maybe that makes me selfish but I don't feel it neccessary to share my entire bag of tricks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In general, I like to share recipes.  There are a few that I have created and make the bulk of my money with that I really wouldn't share.  I do think it's funny though, when people with no chocolate experience ask for a recipe thinking it's easy because I made it seem easy.  I brought something to a party recently which was a variation of a recipe that I learned in a professional class which I paid a great deal of money to attend.  I was asked for the recipe by one of the other guests a few weeks later.  The way she asked was so matter of fact, like of course I would give her the recipe, surely it just came from a book and I could photocopy the page for her, you know?  I understand that many recipes are that simple to share but this is my business, I spend time creating recipes, perfecting techniques.  The woman was taken aback that I wouldn't share the recipe.  I am happy to give her my banana bread or chocolate chip cookie recipe just not my special chocolate recipes.  Maybe that makes me selfish but I don't feel it neccessary to share my entire bag of tricks.

No, Trishiad, that doesn't make you selfish at all! Recipe development takes a lot of time, and I mean a LOT of time. I don't mind sharing my expertise whenever I can, but when someone asks for a recipe of a product I make or a technique that makes my product unique in some way, then I have to draw the line.

Having said that, 99 out of 100 times people don't realize how much work goes into making a professional level product. Recently someone asked me for my recipe for dacquoise. I thought "Sure, why not." But it took a lot of time to get it typed out, and in the end it turned out that this "simple" recipe was just far too complicated for the recipient to even try.

So, I agree with Golden Brown: keep some simple recipes on hand and supply those when asked. And like Sugarella, I never mind telling someone from where the inspiration came. Just my 2 cents.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not a professional, but for me it has everything to do with who asks. People in the baking community who share to learn deserve all the information they can get. If no one shared, baking would stagnate. Who benefits from that?

I was once asked for a recipe by someone at work who I despise. I couldn't possibly. The perfectly tasty recipe for mocha icing is in the Joy of Cooking. I also did a ton of research on blueberry muffins for another co-worker who wanted to make them for her boyfriend. She didn't. That cheesed me off. It took me about an hour to do the research. So, when she asked me again for a recipe for her I-need-to-make-something-for-a-dinner-party-on-Saturday, I told her it was best to stick with a tried-and-true recipe rather than get involved in that again.

My mother once told me that she made a pie for a bake sale when we were kids. Her own pastry, lard crust, pecan. A perfectly delightful pie of hers that I still make. Well, she went and cut cardboard and wrapped the whole thing in Saran Wrap, just perfect. And she shows up at the bake sale and they have a sign -- 50 Cents -- on her pie. Her heart was broken and she never baked for the bake sales again.

The story sort of sums it up for me -- make an investment where you're going to get a return. Time and money for the best ingredients aside, baking is an investment of love (and sanity).

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

suggestion:  Have a few pre-printed/email-ready recipes that you don't mind sharing.  Then when someone requests a specific recipe, you can provide the one(s) of your choice, without totally offending anyone.  They'll understand and appreciate the gesture.  Done well and presented attractively the recipes can be nice marketing pieces.

I'm not a pro, but as a consumer, the above strikes me as excellent advice. For instance, we have two local papers that run featured recipes from restaurants or notable figures. Getting featured there would be excellent marketing. I really think you only need one or two recipes to give out.

You could also "dumb down" or simplify one of your recipes under the pretense that the ingredients or equipment are not found in the average pantry (or the technique is beyond the average home ingredient). As a consumer, I would not feel mislead as long as it is clearly stated upfront that the recipe has been simplified for home use or better results in a home setting.

If someone asks for a different recipe, you could refer them to one of your giveaway recipes under the pretense that it has been "tried and tested" for home use. As a consumer, though, I find it hard to understand how people could walk up to a pastry chef and ask them to give away their recipes. I would feel uncomfortable doing this. The farthest I would go would be to ask about ingredients or method.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"the ingredients or equipment are not found in the average panty"

that's just about the best type-o i've seen in quite some time...so cute! :laugh:

they're certainly not found in my panties!

at any rate...not to devolve: occasionally there are infrequent posters on eG who pop in with a "i need a recipe for (fill in the blank)". there's no explanation, no real question really...in my opinion they're just not wanting to do any work. this is, of course, different from the threads where people are trying to find the "best of" recipes where eG-ers test all the recipes and discuss variations.

i find that the threads started by the "lazy" posters get ignored...rightfully so, in my opinion. if they aren't willing to involve themselves more in the process and the spirit if eG itself, then it is silly to put forth effort to answer them.

how do others feel about this, or is this taboo?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i find that the threads started by the "lazy" posters get ignored...rightfully so, in my opinion.  if they aren't willing to involve themselves more in the process and the spirit if eG itself, then it is silly to put forth effort to answer them.

I always thought these threads got ignored for the plain and simple reason that the poster didn't do their homework...in other words, they didn't bother doing a search.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was another do-you-give-out-your-recipes thread a couple of years ago that was pretty revealing. Although I do give recipes out whenever people want them, I am also not a professional, and my income doesn't depend on those recipes. I can understand if someone who does use their recipes for income, declines to distribute them.

I tried to get a certain soup recipe from a local restaurant. Although they wouldn't give me the recipe, they did mention certain key ingredients, and that allowed me to research and combine several recipes and come up with one that was extremely similar. I'm a happy customer, and one who continues to dine there as often as I ever did.

In the earlier thread, one major, very legitimate complaint is that when recipes are given out, the recipients often don't follow the instructions, and then bitch about the outcome to the person who gave them the recipe. It can be frustrating to be put in that position.

The reality is, if it's a very complicated recipe, most people aren't going to even try it. When people ask me for complicated recipes, I write them out, being extremely explicit about what has to be done, and often why it has to be done. Most people's eyes glaze over when they see something like that, and that ends it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i find that the threads started by the "lazy" posters get ignored...rightfully so, in my opinion.  if they aren't willing to involve themselves more in the process and the spirit if eG itself, then it is silly to put forth effort to answer them.

how do others feel about this, or is this taboo?

I haven't noticed any lazy posters....I must not be paying attention. :smile:

eGullet is a very different place than other message boards online. We are not a recipe site; we don't list thousands and thousands of crappy recipes, only a chosen few gems. I know of several people online who have joined eG, only to come to the conclusion that it wasn't for them. Perhaps some people out there are just looking for the same old message board, you know?

In the earlier thread, one major, very legitimate complaint is that when recipes are given out, the recipients often don't follow the instructions, and then bitch about the outcome to the person who gave them the recipe.  It can be frustrating to be put in that position.

Good point, and part of the reason I don't give out stuff I've created myself. We all know a lot of home bakers have a tough enough time deciphering regular recipes and getting the correct results.... if I give them directions for something I've made 3x as complicated than what they're used to seeing, and they try it and fail, they might assume I gave them a crappy recipe on purpose. And that's not good customer relations, is it? I agree with chefette that it's flattering to be asked, but unfortunately the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The other reason I don't give out my own creations is that it'll inevitably end up online somewhere, which in turn will inevitably end up in one of those supermarket checkout recipes rags, and I'll inevitably end up hearing from a customer, "Hah! .....you got this recipe from Martha Stewart!" :biggrin:

But again, if I use an exact recipe out of a book or magazine, I'll just tell people that's what it is.

Edited by Sugarella (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the past I never hesitated to give out recipes if asked.

Since starting to teach others to work with chocolate, and since some of the students I have taught use the recipes I have developed in their businesses, I am less likely to hand out recipes for those particular items.

I just wanted to comment on people who leave important parts out of a recipe to mislead you. I used to visit a friend in California for a week or so every spring. She has a huge professional Garland stove in her kitchen so I used to spend the entire time cooking, baking (and shopping). I happily gave copies of any recipes I was asked for to her sister in law who lived a block away. One day I found one of her children sneaking my binder of recipes out of the house. She wanted to photocopy all my originals because she figured that I wasn't giving her the real goods. Apparently she never gives out a recipe without leaving out some important ingredient or instruction and assumed that I would do the same.

I would rather someone refuse to give me a recipe than give me one that misleads and wastes my time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I make (wholesale) organic sourdough breads which are unique to my part of the world. I am sometimes asked if I sell my starter ... I actually maintain five different ones. My answer is no, but I'll be happy to discuss with you how to start your own and it's not difficult to do if you persevere. Susan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would rather someone refuse to give me a recipe than give me one that misleads and wastes my time.

Boy, that's the truth. Just give them a genuine and friendly smile and say, "I don't usually mind sharing recipes, but this particular one I prefer not to give out."

That's it. Easy. Nobody worthy of your friendship would be upset. Especially if you're a professional and that's how you earn your living.

Telling someone that you'll give them a recipe and then intentionally leaving out a key ingredient is dishonest. And cowardly. And pure-D mean.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i find that the threads started by the "lazy" posters get ignored...rightfully so, in my opinion.  if they aren't willing to involve themselves more in the process and the spirit if eG itself, then it is silly to put forth effort to answer them.

how do others feel about this, or is this taboo?

All sorts of people at all levels of cooking/baking skills stumble into eG. And, if they are like me when I first found eG, they'll be very excited to find such diversity and depth of knowledge. I know I still am overwhelmed. Coming back...so, they start asking questions from this fount of information. I don't recall eG being exclusive to the elite/advanced. Who knows what these individuals may be able to share in future? I think it is hurtful and discouraging to be met with a blank wall when you expected much, in the beginning, at least. One doesn't have to be very lengthy in our replies...yup, I know every little posting takes up precious time.

I maintain a website, strictly photoblog only, because I'm quite busy with real life. I get people writing to me to ask for recipes and how I decorated something, and etc. So far, I've never snubbed anyone, and, in turn, I've received much appreciation. A good feeling. Having said that, I'm not doing cakes professionally at the moment. If I did, I might use one or 2 or the above helpful responses. :wink::rolleyes:

Just my 2 sen.

Edited by Tepee (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...