Using others' recipes in restaurant

Joined Feb 13, 2018
I'm new to the industry but had previously been cooking seriously at home for close to a decade. I recently began creating weekly specials for the restaurant where I work and am wondering if it's normal/encouraged/frowned upon to use recipes from cookbooks or blogs for pieces of dishes, especially sweets.

One dish I had seen a photo of and liked, so I used a crust recipe from a book and a filling from someplace else. Another was a dessert where the main component came from a blog, the sauce I got on Epicurious, and I flavored my own whipped cream. I feel confident in saying the dishes are mostly from my own head, but I didn't alter any recipes, only combined them.

Is this considered plagiarism? The question has wedged into my head and I've tried reading about the topic, but the discussion is often about reposting or republishing recipes as your own, which I don't plan to do.

For cooking, I believe it is a little more iffy (or at least monumentally lazy) if you lift something identically without any alteration or credit because it's so easy to customize with different techniques or flavorings. For baking, there are certain ratios or standard recipes that were doubtless adapted and copied already before you read it. Why mess with a recipe that already works for the sake of originality?

Looking forward to your thoughts.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
No, because it is essentially a performance art with edible results, and there is an art to the act of doing it itself. When you follow a recipe your are doing what a violinist is doing, just solo, and you can eat the music.
Joined Jan 3, 2005
No, what you describe is exactly what many chefs do. There are some that create something completely different, but most take a recipe they learned at a previous job and maybe change from peaches to apricots and serve it with a different ice cream and a different presentation and that's it.
Most of my employers require me to sign an agreement that any recipes I create while on the job are theirs, but I have always thought it is a little silly. Every chef I have worked with has a collection of recipes from their previous jobs. I am just very careful if a recipe is getting published that it is fully mine (except for basics, like pie dough).
Joined Sep 26, 2017
Every restaurant I've worked at, used recipes from cookbooks for pretty much all the items on the menu.

Even fancy places.
Joined Oct 15, 2012
I agree with what has been said. It's perfectly fine to use other people's recipes, perhaps with the one exception of passing off someone's highly recognisable signature dish as one's own.
In conventional cooking there really isn't anything new - we're only combining existing ingredients and techniques in (hopefully) interesting ways...
Joined Aug 26, 2016
Plagiarism? No. Those recipes are in books or on blogs so that people CAN recreate them. If you stole your former chef's recipe book & started cooking, then yes that would be plagiarism.

It is nothing more than learning from can give credit without saying that you got a particular recipe off a blog.
Joined Aug 21, 2004
If you stole your former chef's recipe book & started cooking, then yes that would be plagiarism.
I shamefully admit that early in my career, I plagiarized from Escoffier. If anyone needs me...I will be standing over in the corner with my nose to the wall. :~)
Joined Aug 7, 2013
One of the many issues I've had when I come into a new kitchen (at least the kitchens I've come into in the past five years) is that they didn't have recipes. Each one has been "a pinch of this, a dash of that, a four second squeeze of this sauce bottle, a two second pour of this spice blend," etc. Whenever I try to mimic their actions and follow their instructions, it's never right.

I tend to be very precision-driven when it comes to recipe. If I come to work in your kitchen, I ABSOLUTELY want to give the customers the exact same thing that you've been giving them for the past years. How can you give me no specificity and then comment or complain when I can't get it right? It isn't fair (which sounds real punk to me, but nevertheless...), and isn't it in your best interest that I put out the EXACT same product that you've been putting out? How could one reasonably expect exactitude of execution when there's no exactitude of recipe or process?
Joined May 19, 2014
I believe it was Johnny Cash who once said, "lets all get together and steal each others songs".
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Meh... If I follow the recipient exactly, I credit the originator, I.e. Jamie Oliver's g.f. d.f. Avocado and coconut chocolate mousse. Usually though, I'll take someones's recipie and tweak it substantially, I.e. Maida Heater's cowtown choc cake recipie with Ital. buttercream and kirsch soaked dried cherries.
Joined Aug 7, 2013
The common response for recipe originality i heard many times in culinary school for, "How do i make a recipe my own?" was, "Remove one ingredient and change two."
Joined Aug 26, 2016
I shamefully admit that early in my career, I plagiarized from Escoffier. If anyone needs me...I will be standing over in the corner with my nose to the wall. :~)

You totally missed the sentence before the one you quoted. This is what the "fake news" people do. LoL

I have had my kitchen's recipe book(s) stolen by a former kitchen manager. Cooking from Escoffier, or the Pioneer Woman (bleh), isn't plagiarizm. They are publicly produced works free for the taking.
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