struggling to find creative inspiration without ripping off other peoples recipes!

Joined Jun 7, 2015
hi guys, so lately my chef has stepped away, wants me to run his two rosette restaurant, now, im 23, and i find i dont have half his experience. and on the other hand , when im thinking about flavor pairings, and i look up some ideas, they've been done, and then i feel like its a bad idea because i dont want to be taking another chefs hard work , and call it my own. 

at the same time, i dont want to turn round to my chef, and say im lacking the creative flair he thinks i have, maybe i do , i understand flavors. but i feel most ideas have already been done, 

so my Question is this. 

how do you find inspiration for your menus, and where do you find your flair?

from old classics like escoffier my personal favorite chef, or do you like to look at what other restaurants are doing and more or less do similar, but change a few things?

HELP !! my head is fried. generally i just dont want to let me chef down, we worked for these rosettes too hard for 2 years. 

one more question, is it a common thing when you receive a big responsibility to feel as if your not ready :'D
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Joined Sep 5, 2008
Good artists borrow, great artists steal. If you're worried about ripping off other chef's recipes, read the following PDF, it should put your fears to rest:

What most people accept as "creation" is often only "evolution" in disguise.
one more question, is it a common thing when you receive a big responsibility to feel as if your not ready :'D
In my personal experience, yes.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
one more question, is it a common thing when you receive a big responsibility to feel as if your not ready :'D
 Yes.  That's how you know you're ready.  Look up impostor syndrome, sounds like you have it.

As far as continuing on in the restaurant remember that the chef left you in charge for a reason.  If you're scared to branch out take little steps.  How about continuing the status quo for a little while and getting some experience running the kitchen yourself before you start making big changes.  Then you can be creative in the specials you introduce while leaving his menu intact for the time being.  It's not big ideas that are going to move things along, it's the confidence you gain that will allow you to move forward.  
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Flavor pairings are fair game.
Most are classic ( tomatoes and basil...raspberries and lemon... tater tots and chili cheese ;-) and I for one would be very sad if I could only enjoy them in one dish (ala whoever).
Same with ingredients .
There are copywrite laws but when it comes down to food and beverage they are very complicated and tend to run in the gray zone and unless you were going to manufacture and sell hundreds or thousands of cases of this copied recipe I wouldn't worry about it.

You yourself admit you are very young and just the ability to acknowledge that fact tells me that half the battle is won.
Confidence comes with experience and I am sure your chef intends to continue to mentor you (esp if he owns the place) so don't be shy about bringing your questions to him/her.

Congratulations on the status bump and keep in touch.
Everyone loves a good Cinderella story.

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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Yes, you should feel nervous about receiving a big responsibility. If you didn't feel nervous, it wouldn't be a big deal. It's a challenge. That's what makes it a challenge.

Second, everything has been done before. But not everywhere or all the time. So borrow/steal all the ideas you want from whomever you want.

This is known in educational circles as Learning. No one thinks of everything by themselves. We all learn from others.

      When studying the cookbooks in my collection, I am constantly surprised by a technique or flavor pairing I would never have thought of. 

From a recent purchase, Charlie Trotters' Vegetables,  I find many great examples. Using fruit or vegetable purees as sauces in combination with other fruits and vegetables. But he also sometimes serves vegetables and or fruits in veal or chicken broth.  Much of what I've read would never have occurred to me. 

   The French Laundry has many great ideas and techniques. I really like Alfred Portales thinking on many cooking techniques and flavor pairings.  All of these chefs put out cookbooks to share their knowledge. 

     Remember too that while you, the chef and others may think "It's all been done before", chances are your customers haven't seen or eaten it. Very few will collect all those cookbooks and study them like you will. Very few will have eaten at all those restaurants. It may be that your place is the one place they rely on for new and interesting things to eat. So go ahead and use those flavor pairings, different techniques and plating ideas. Your dedication and passion will be what shine through. 
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