Are there recipes you won't share?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by pollopicu, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    If so, what are they?

    I'm still not sure how I feel about people who won't share any of their recipes, I believe I get why they don't.. perhaps they want to be the friend or family member who makes "THE best" lasagna, or "THE best" chicken soup, etc. I can certainly relate to that part of it, but if someone asks me how I made a particular dish I generally don't mind sharing, and have known to even get a little pedantic about it. My only issue with sharing is when someone asks you for a recipe, and then they put their "twist" on it. God that effin annoys me.

    but the two I don't like sharing are my buttermilk pancake recipe, and my chocolate chip cookie recipe (it has a lot of other goodies other than choco chips). I believe I also have a pound cake recipe I created almost 10 years ago that is so deliciously moist that I would think twice before sharing as well. Regular cooking (non-baking) recipes are difficult for me to share because I don't ever actually follow any recipe. I can just give instructions on how I made certain dishes, but not exact measurements.
     
  2. helloitslucas

    helloitslucas

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    Only a few of them! I'm very protective over my steak chili, buttermilk biscuits(grandma's recipes!) and my homemade BBQ sauce. Other than those I am a completely open book! I am more than happy to show people how to make them, but to give out the recipe for those is just something I haven't been able to do. I'd love to show and talk about the process with those to anyone.
     
  3. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't have any "secret" recipes.  I'll share every recipe I have, if I can.  By that I mean that many of my favorite dishes don't have an exact recipe that I follow and sometimes there are things I make, for dinner parties, etc. that are almost impossible to write a recipe for as I just wing it as I go along.

    When I was in the restaurant business, I hated when people asked for recipes, not that I didn't want them to have the recipe, but those recipes were created for large batches, at least much larger than the average person, cooking for the family needs. It always required having to scale down the recipe and then, more often than not it doesn't come out quite like the big batch.
     
  4. teamfat

    teamfat

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    Interesting. I have no problem with that.  If I provide a basic foundation and they want to build on it, that's fine. But I can see where someone saying "Here's Mark's habanero chicken chile, made with pork butt and anaheims" would be quite annoying.
     
  5. eastshores

    eastshores

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    I think this notion of "secret" is a bit silly with the exception of one venue: Competition. A better way for me to understand this is "proprietary technology". That being said, if you are not cooking for a living, or you don't have a family heirloom legacy to attempt to protect as some sort of valuable concept, or perhaps establish, then what in the hell do you think you are hiding and why? It just doesn't make sense. The culinary arts are all about teaching and evolution of those teachings.

    I did find it funny that on one chef oriented show the chef was baffled as to how this Louisianan crew had created a particular recipe, how their cheese was so full of umami and smooth. He set out to reverse engineer it, guessing all sorts of crazy melting cheeses, etc. Ultimately they revealed the cheese was Velveeta. I love when that happens lol
     
  6. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    I look at recipes as being guidelines. Many times I will do my own interpretations.

    Last week I made a "rural" pealla as I called it, based on a recipe by Miguel Maestre, a spanish chef living in Australia. He called the dish "Mountain paella". That name he uses is most likey based upon the "mar y montanã" recipe concepts, which is spanish for "surf and turf" or, sea and mountain in spanish.

    He uses rabbit, quail, chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage). I used rabbit, quail, chorizo and merguez. Although North-African from origin, merguez is appreciated in Spain too. It's made with lamb meat, certainly a "mountain" element. I added black olives while the original doesn't. I think it's almost a must in this rural paella. And I added a good squeeze of lemon juice at the very end. Perfect addition for lifting the taste of the used meat in that pealla to a much higher level. Maybe chef Miguel Maestre would have approved.

    I have no problem at all in sharing my interpretations, and when appropriate, I will give credit to the original recipe and the chef who made it or the book or magazine it came from. This is the least you can do to pay respect to people who created it.

    It's almost impossible to create a totally new dish that hasn't been "invented" yet. Many times I composed food experiments and discovered later on that they already existed in slightly other variations.

    Sharing recipes can be totally redundant too, a waste of time and energy! Many people will ask for recipes, even though they will never ever make it. They're just being polite by showing interest, nothing more.
     
  7. chefross

    chefross

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    I'm with eastshores on this, and anyway I found that even if you give someone a recipe, chances are when they go to make it, it will not turn out the way they had it when I made it for them.

    And the notion that someone will take your recipe and twist it is not surprising. We Chefs do it all the time.
     
  8. ordo

    ordo

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    There's indeed one recipe I will never share. It’s a rice stuffed beef (or pork) flank steak, very laborious. It took me years to replicate that recipe, original from my grandmother and I've been improving it over the years. It begins with a 48 hours brown stock. Then you have to prepare sewed pockets of flank steak, stuff with a classic Arab rice (raw), sauté in olive oil, deglaze with dry Jerez and simmer in brown stock until the rice is done. I usually accompany with caramelized endives, after many tries. One of the secrets of the recipe is the lemon juice.

    (Damned! What have i done? Now I will have to present it in the Middle East Challenge!)
     
  9. chefedb

    chefedb

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    no secret recipes but I d0 have some secret procedures!
     
  10. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    I'll share any recipes, even on the bbq competition scene. In my own sneaky way, I am trying to reverse the trend of overly sweet bbq. Savory 4ever!
     
  11. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    For sure, I do it all the time too, but for recipes on the net, blogs or books. Why ask for a persons personal recipe when you're going to make it "yours" anyway? Just google it, and twist that. Don't ask me for mine, and then try to do your own thing with it. What gets me even more is when they change the recipe, and then complain it doesn't taste the same. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif
     
  12. everydaygourmet

    everydaygourmet

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    Interesting question!, found it to be a matter of where your personal and professional time-line is. At first think we all strive for or were directed to duplicate a recipe, consistently. After you gain more experience that begets confidence and ability think "we" wanted to see if we could duplicate while improving the original, I did so while making a lot of mistakes! Then you get one or two or more right that people like, then you think, hey! this is good $hi+!, people like it, it sets me apart from the crowd, and it's Mine!

    Be honest, who doesn't love, l-o-v-e, love to see guests smiling and really enjoying something you've just put your bs&t and basically your soul into making. It's a momentary but very gratifying feeling, no?

    Plying the "dark arts" of "cooking" is IMO, an art form, therefore by definition subjective and open to interpretation. How a professional chef interprets a recipe can be the difference between financial success or failure but in either case will set them apart. If you are successful and your interpretation brings financial rewards, then business 101 demands you keep it to yourself.

    EVERYONE I socialize with has their own "secret" marinara, gravy/spaghetti, BBQ sauce, chili, pickles (Hey D!), burger and rib recipes to name a few. Know restaurants that have handed down recipes to their successor chefs for decades, literally.

    Have found the most inspiration and advice from retired or soon to be retired chefs that now cook when, where and how they want to. (homage to "clam bar Lou")

    I'm compiling my originals and of course personal takes on some classics and new classics for a cookbook, so been pretty close to the vest except for friends and ask only if they use them to give credit when due. We make spice blends that use as many house made components as possible, e.g. smoke/flavor our own salts, pepper corns, cheese etc., in various flavors, have specific growers for our American Espelette and paprika (have not used commercial "red pepper flakes or commercial paprika for a LOT of years) dry and or smoke & grind, flavor sustainable hardwoods for our tasso, bacon, sausages, pastrami etc. among others.

    Not shy at steering or giving out the basics but will keep the nuances and techniques "secret" until we finish the book!

    "Ars Est Celare Artem"

    Cheers!,

    EDG
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  13. bubbamom

    bubbamom

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    My Aunt asked me never to give out her spaghetti sauce recipe (which she developed).shes been gone for quite a few years, but am sure she'd come back to haunt me if I ever did!
     
  14. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    I'm not all that young anymore and I still remember the time where it was absolutely not done to ask a chef in his restaurant for a recipe. That would have been such bad manners. Many times there was no salt and pepper on the table as you were not allowed to interfere with what the chef served. Adding seasoning was simply an insult to the chef...

    Nowadays restaurants are full with amateur cooks making pictures of their food with there cell phones! I'm quite sure, in older times, chefs would simply throw those guests out!
     
  15. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    This is the reason I'm so shy to ask for recipes. I'm old school too, and I know it's not polite to ask for a recipe, unless it's from a little old lady, who seem more than happy to share. it's younger cooks who hold on to recipe's with a death grip.
     
  16. eastshores

    eastshores

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    I would never ask a restaurant for a recipe! As I mentioned that is their intellectual property in a highly competitive world. To me that seems like common sense. I would never walk into the Ford factory and ask for documentation on how they assemble their vehicle. Both parties earn their income from that information. The farthest I have gone, in restaurants where I had a really good relationship with the owners is to playfully list ingredients I can detect. I love to see them squirm if I'm onto something! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif  
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  17. oldschool1982

    oldschool1982

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    I remember having this conversation with someone here years ago and it was a good one.

    Think about it. There are no new "foods" so most, if not all of the fundamental ingredients, procedures and recipes have been exhausted. Since the 60's and 70's, it's been variations of the original yet, it was the distinguishing difference between them that was worth protecting.

    Recipes are such a personal thing for most Chefs, especially those of us that came up in the time before the current industry. A time when a restaurant specialized in things. Now, you go to a restaurant and they cater to almost every taste on the menu. Heck, I'm just as guilty at this as anyone else. None the less, recipes represent years of trial, error, effort and sacrifice that, when asked to give up the "fruit of our labors" it's like asking you to give up a child. Plus, so many of us had experienced employers that hired you with grand designs for the future only to keep you around long enough to get the business"established" and lock you out of the building. This is when they replace you with a lesser paid "Kitchen Manager or Sous and when they return your "property", the recipe book is conveniently missing.

    Over the years, I developed copycat recipes for this specific reason but fine tuned them to give as a way of passing things on. My daughter will be the only one to get my true, original written recipes and she can do with them what she wishes. Anyhow, the recipes work one way when I cook and do continue to work without me but aspects, ingredients or procedures were omitted. It comes close but is not exact. That way, people enjoy the food and I don't feel like I have "given" anything away.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  18. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    I did ask for a recipe once, but not in person, through email, cross country. I never got so much as a reply back.
     
  19. wlong

    wlong

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    If recipes were not traded or given out to others, we would still be eating medieval food. Like one of the readers said, no two cooks will cook the same recipe the same anyway.  Some of our known chefs give their recipes out knowing this and the fact that most of the ingredients are not easy to get by the average home cook and even some chefs. 

    I have eaten a lot of food that I would like to have the recipe from different restaurants but never asked.  I figure if they wanted their recipes known they would have them on their webpage.  Would they lose business because they give them out, I personally don't think so.  Usually you can cook something yourself that is close anyway.

    @helloitslucas here is a buttermilk recipe I think came from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook in the 50s. How much difference is it from yours? Basically the same probably, so I would see no reason not to share yours.  You have always heard the saying "you can't take it with you".  I'm not singling you out, just wanted to give a comparison. 

     buttermilk
     egg
     oil
     yellow food coloring (this was added, could be considered a secret ingredient haha)
     flour
     baking soda
     teaspoon baking powder
     salt
     sugar

    Sure, Pepsi and companies like that are not going to share their recipes, but I see no reason not to share food recipes if asked.  I am like some of the others, ask and you shall receive and feel like the 90 year old woman did above.
     
  20. eastshores

    eastshores

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    Well, in my little town we have a major high school style drama going on because a new "fresh juice" place opened up. They have a more modern feel, and know how to market using social media, etc. Is it hurting the previously established place? Yep.. (the old place has accused them of stealing recipes) and the different restaurants downtown are taking sides. The whole point of that, is yes, it can lose a place business if they built their reputation on a particular product (recipe) and a new place comes along and offers something novel with that exact same product. That's why I think it is legit for a place of business to keep their recipes secret.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014