using someones elses idea

Joined Aug 20, 2001
Can you use recipes from famous chefs and use them exactly the same way in your restaurant?

For example i might want to put a Jammie Oliver recipe on the menu in my restaurant. Is it ok?

Are their any legal problems with this?


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
While recipes themselves are difficult to copyright, it can be done. However, cooking a copyrighted recipe for profit is no infringement on the copyright. However again, this is no protection from being sued as courts will hear most any case these days. Remember, copyright doesn't protect facts, just the presentation of facts. Recipes are mostly facts.

Reprinting the recipe except for purely personal purposes is a violation of the copyright. So if you are supplying copies of the recipe to your cooks, you're in violation. If they use the original cookbook with your cooks, you would be ok.

There is also the risk that the recipe is patented. You can't use patented recipes for anything without written permission. I believe that the recipe for Coke is patented, for example.

There is a third risk. Mr. Oliver deserves credit for his work. I am certain that Mr. Oliver has trademarked himself. Therefore, to give proper credit on your menu, part of a for profit enterprise, you'll need written permission.

It boils down to needing written permission and likely paying some fee to Mr. Oliver. And that's just good behavior anyway.




Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
This is a very grey area. I don't think you really would have to worry about copyright infringment as it would be awfully difficult to prove that you didn't learn the recipe somewhere else. Now if you make it look exactly like the picture in the book, well, a case could possibly be made, but I highly doubt it.

Morally and professionaly it becomes an even greyer (is that a word) area. Let's face it, all chefs are a product of their education (either formal or informal). Why do you make your veal stock the way you do-because Chef So-&-So taught you that that was the way it is done. Why do you roast chicken the way you do-same reason. Why do you serve Duck with a Dried Lignonberry Sauce-very likely because a chef you worked under did it and you liked it. Why did you run that Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fennel-you saw it in a cooking magazine a while back and wanted to do something like that.

Don't get me wrong, I am not condoning plagurizing someone's else's work. I just want to show that it is very seldom that we create in a complete vacuum. The way I feel about it is this: there are many, many resources out there (books, magazines, TV) that can give one an idea for a new dish. But it should only be a starting point. When you come across such a dish, ask yourself, 'What can I do to make this dish better?' 'What can I do to make this dish different or my own?' or 'What can I do to make this dish more accessible to my clientele?' To me that is the fun, creative side to being a chef. I think I would become very bored very quickly if all I did was duplicate recipes that someone else created.
Joined Feb 21, 2001
I decided a long time ago that as far as creativity goes, I have good technical skills.

Anybody see the story about the previously mentioned Jamie Oliver in this week's NYTimes food section? Cool story. Good for him.
Joined Aug 20, 2001
Thankyou for your super detailed and helpful replies.
What I like, is the way Jamie combines strange flavours. I will certainly not copy his dishes exactly.

I'm sure it's quite important to know about the copyright issues though, so thanks for this info.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
You can use the recipe, just not his name to sell the dish. Many restaurants who need to fill in menus use recipes from books. I'm sure many recipes from The New Professional Chef wind up on menus - but you never see them billed as such.
Joined Jul 6, 1999
If you write a recipe book and I buy it and use one of the dishes I can not see a problem. The author has been paid and recognised. I remember hearing of a chef complaining publically about a recipe of hers being used in a restaurant. If you don't want this to happen why make money out of publising it in a book. No one cooks the dish the same anyway, refer to your hidden ingredients of passion, love etc.
If I use a famous chefs dish I always make a comment to my patrons about this.
I keep no secrets, it is a compliment to be asked 'how do you do that?' don't you think?
Joined Jan 24, 2003
one dish leads to another...

verbatum... no.

replicating, certainly may be construed as a compliment.

stop.stop.stop. read into a recipe, what are they doing?
How is something being cut?
How is something being cooked?
How is something being seasoned?
How is something related to other similar food? (ie: food classification or cooking method)
How is somehting defined as a compliment?
How is something plated visually?
How does it taste?
How does it complement the coarse? the menu? the theme or style? the image? the cooks? the chef? the customer?
Top Bottom