what is your creation worth?

37
12
Joined Aug 21, 2014
Hey Chef’s, well here’s a problem I’m sure a few of us have been in. I met a local chef (my local) whom I immediately connected with and he introduced me to a café/restaurant owner that wanted to which things up. Basically he was thinking something of a bistro menu, no wings and fries. I was given the task and spent almost two months researching and designing a menu. The chef and I bought all the food, I did all the execution of the menu, as well as service. The owner was out of town and upon his return he learned that some of his staff were unhappy with the situation. FYI: these are hippie, college kids that have never worked in a restaurant and do not understand service. I actually had one worker bring her husband for dinner two hours after service was over. Another was putting in orders well after service. So as you can imagine not smooth.

The Owner doesn’t wanna move forward with me, but I’m thinking he wants to try and use someone else to execute my menu. I have received no compensation for any of my work. I have asked that the images of my food and that my menu be taken down from the owner’s social media. Do any of you think that I should be compensated for my work? That the images and food should be mine?

The reality is I created that menu. I executed it and the people that are liking it now and loving the food, wanting to come, are basing that off my work. I know I can’t copyright food or recipes, however does anyone agree that I should seek some compensation?

Thanks Chef Community
 
1,841
543
Joined Aug 15, 2003
I'm just a tad confused...you met an owner of a restaurant through a mutual chef friend of your's, and was given the task of conceiving a menu, then implementing it at the actual restaurant while the owner was away?

Tell us more about the restaurant...what type of menu was it? What type of stuff did you put on and replace?

So you worked as a (basically) consultant chef at a cafe without ever discussing money or compensation of future job prospects? You spent your own money on the food to serve to the public? I'm still confused...

You might just have to chalk it up to a learning experience. What you should have done is discuss compensation before you ever started cooking and working on this project or in his cafe. How someone does that much work for an owner without the topic of pay ever coming up baffles me.

I agree that you should have been compensated but I think the time to work all that out has passed. If you guys never discussed it why would the owner pay you now for your work? Why didn't he want to keep you around in the kitchen, and why would he replace you with someone else when you are ready and willing to do it?

I need more details here. But yeah, ALWAYS discuss compensation before doing work. You've learned your lesson.
 

phatch

Moderator
Staff member
9,657
1,136
Joined Mar 29, 2002
The photos you own at a minimum without a contract in place.
 
37
12
Joined Aug 21, 2014
the owner knew of everything. he was out of town during the soft opening. theres nothing that was replaced, i created a menu from scratch. and yes, i agree something should have been more concrete, the chef i met was "friends" with the owner. compensation was i would take all food sales and i would pay out of my cut whomever helps me.

i dont know if he's going to try and replace me and try and make my food. that part i'm less concerned about given that its almost impossible. all of his existing staff had no idea of the change and some were less than thrilled. in order to keep the existing staff happy he wants to rethink the situation. money i'm not much at a loss for. the loss comes at the creation of the menu. i live in a place that doesnt have any idea of good food. they claim to have had a "food moment" but it's pretty sad. you can look at 12 restaurants here on yelp that claim fine dinning and all of them shower pea shoots over every dish for their micro greens.

So my only concern is trying to stop the owner from benefiting from my food. I'm waiting for the weekend to see if he'll try and do just that and if so I have an attorney that will send a C&D Letter.

Reading your response I do see my foolishness. However, compensation was discussed many times and in different ways. it was just who would pay for what and who's paycheck would come from where, wasn't 100% ironed out because of the owners absence the opening week.
 
Last edited:
1,841
543
Joined Aug 15, 2003
the owner knew of everything. he was out of town during the soft opening. theres nothing that was replaced, i created a menu from scratch. and yes, i agree something should have been more concrete, the chef i met was "friends" with the owner. compensation was i would take all food sales and i would pay out of my cut whomever helps me.

i dont know if he's going to try and replace me and try and make my food. that part i'm less concerned about given that its almost impossible. all of his existing staff had no idea of the change and some were less than thrilled. in order to keep the existing staff happy he wants to rethink the situation. money i'm not much at a loss for. the loss comes at the creation of the menu. i live in a place that doesnt have any idea of good food. they claim to have had a "food moment" but it's pretty sad. you can look at 12 restaurants here on yelp the claim fine dinning and all of them shower pea shoots over every dish for their micro greens.

So my only concern is trying to stop the owner from benefiting from my food. I'm waiting for the weekend to see if he'll try and do just that and if so I have an attorney that will send a C&D Letter.

Reading your response I do see my foolishness. However, compensation was discussed many times and in different ways. it was just who would pay for what and who's paycheck would come from where, wasn't 100% ironed out because of the owners absence the opening week.

Just let it go dude.

You're not Leonardo DaVinci my man, you cook food for people to enjoy. Are you going to revolutionize the food industry? Are you the next Thomas Keller or Ferran Adria? Is Daniel Humm recruiting you? What about your menu makes it worthy of all this effort? Is the food really that special?

They have your recipe's and/or menu...so what? They still have to make it as good as you would make it. I know it seems like a big deal right now but you're (hopefully) going to write hundreds of menu in your chef's life...you'll look back at this and wonder what the big deal was.

Plus you learned a valuable lesson. Don't work on spec, and understand up front what you are getting into. MOST owners have to idea what the hell they are doing.

Talking about a lawyer? Come on man, it'll cost you more to duke it out with him in court than you'd ever get in return. Plus, it's his restaurant that you did work for, so he might have a case. There are restaurants I worked at in the past who still use some of my menu items and components to this day. Should I call a lawyer? I dunno, but I wouldn't risk it.

I know you are angry, and rightly so, but there probably isn't an outcome of this that would satisfy you.
 
37
12
Joined Aug 21, 2014
funny i worked for two of those chefs you mentioned. but youre right. they dont actually have my recipes though. i didnt share them. all the items were made by me. but again, youre right. i wouldnt say im angry, thats an energy i just dont have.
 
1,841
543
Joined Aug 15, 2003
funny i worked for two of those chefs you mentioned. but youre right. they dont actually have my recipes though. i didnt share them. all the items were made by me. but again, youre right. i wouldnt say im angry, thats an energy i just dont have.

If you got those chef's on your resume then odds are you'll be fine. So then how are those numbskulls going to replicate your food without your recipes and/or training?

I'm glad you seem to be seeing the light, not trying to be harsh, I just think none of it would have the outcome you want.
 
3,318
739
Joined May 5, 2010
I understand what you are saying but "shoulda, woulda, coulda.
Learn from this and move on.
Whenever anyone works for someone else, anything they do is a reflection of the owner to the public right?
Did you assume a casual conversation was a binding contract?
 
7,676
845
Joined Apr 3, 2008
You’ve learned some valuable lessons. Walk away and don’t get sucked into thit anxiety turmoil will bring to you.

The photos would belong to you only if you took them yourself on your own camera. There was an interesting case of a nature photographer who set up a camera amongst a group of monkeys. One monkey went up to the camera and touched the camera accidentally snapping a selfie. The photo made the photographer a lot of money. Then PETA sued him claiming the photo actually belongs to the monkey. And the monkey won.
 

phatch

Moderator
Staff member
9,657
1,136
Joined Mar 29, 2002
No the monkey lost. Peta appealed and then the case was settled which did not determine copyright. The US copyright office then went on to say that nature does not create copyright, specifically citing the monkey case and the elephant mural.
 
4,769
1,019
Joined Aug 21, 2004
. i wouldnt say im angry, thats an energy i just dont have.
You might want to revaluate that...
So my only concern is trying to stop the owner from benefiting from my food. I'm waiting for the weekend to see if he'll try and do just that and if so I have an attorney that will send a C&D Letter.

I worked one place for a few years with total creative freedom. My stamp was on the entire menu. We got coverage on all kinds of media (for example Food & Wine magazine). The buzz and business was taking off. The owner decided he had learned enough from me to do it on his own and let me go. He didn't make it a year before closing.

Just let it go dude.
 
7,676
845
Joined Apr 3, 2008
No the monkey lost. Peta appealed and then the case was settled which did not determine copyright. The US copyright office then went on to say that nature does not create copyright, specifically citing the monkey case and the elephant mural.

Oh thanks for the correction.
 
Top Bottom