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food's avatar

Why do some famous TV chefs have almost identical recipes?

Asked by food (792points) March 7th, 2012

I´ve seen sometimes that two famous chefs, whose recipes are printed on websites, will have almost an identical recipe. (When they both work for the same channel, could it be that someone else writes the recipe up for them, and decide to use it on two television shows I wonder??)
Sometimes the recipes are just plain almost identical, and other times, you can tell that the person halved or quartered the recipe, then changed the quantity of salt from a pinch to a smidgen. (I can tell, because I often halve or quarter recipes when I want to test them)
When can you say that a recipe is original and how close does it have to get before you have to say that it is an adapted recipe, or that a recipe belongs to someone else?

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9 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Most good recipes for the same menu item will have a very similar base. While there can be subtle differences between recipe A and recipe B, most people expect Chicken Kiev to taste similarly to Chicken Kiev they have had before.

JLeslie's avatar

Some recipes are classics, so they are going to be the same, or close to the same for most chefs. Chefs trained at famous culinaru schools will have learned classic techniques, and so that will be similar too.

Ponderer983's avatar

What both people above me have said. Chicken Marsala is chicken Marsala. Little nuances change, but it’s the same start.

I don’t know if there are rules, per se, about calling a recipe original or not. For the food that doesn’t come straight out of my head where I use a recipe, I always change something, add something, leave out something, add more/less of one thing, substitute something. But unless you are publishing a cookbook, I don’t think it matters what you do to the recipe.

Sunny2's avatar

Classic recipes aside, if you change just a little amount of some ingredient or the process by which you cook the dish, it becomes a new (original) recipe. Also, taste is in the mouth of the eater. I might prefer the dish of one chef over another; but for you, it might be the opposite. It all gets pretty ridiculous, really. I stopped subscribing to one cooking magazine because a critic thought there should be “just a touch more oregano” in the recipe. I don’t have that exacting a palate.

SomeoneElse's avatar

Let’s face it there is only so many things you can do to, say, a lump of beef or an egg! It is just the little bits of some herb that you can’t spell, or a dash of an exotic spice that makes a recipe original. and then there’s the ‘fashionable’ aspect to be considered – it the method of cooking something of the moment?
Who ‘fancies’ the chef over another and so is swayed by what they say?
My tip is never to name some dish until the final serving as it’ll never look like those that the chefs have produced.

elbanditoroso's avatar

There is really only one chef on TV. But he wears many disguises, depending on the TV show being aired.

food's avatar

Cool, if just by changing an ingredient it´s an original recipe, that makes me happy, because that means I can count some of the recipes I´ve done in the past month as original creations! (@sunny2) @ponderer983 I am thinking about the possibility of one day compiling original recipes and who knows maybe turning it into some species of a cookbook, so I am interested in knowing how to make sure I don´t plagiarize anything-I´m trying to be careful in that regard. Plus you see copyright warnings all over the web, too, so it´s not hard to forget.

food's avatar

I can´t remember what recipes I saw on one same website belonging to two different chefs, so I can´t repost them here unfortunately….
Here´s one posted by two different bloggers for example: The first one writes: 110 g or 3 egg whites, 200 g powdered sugar, 110 g almonds, 25 g sugar. The second one writes, and adds a link to the first: 3 whites, 210 g powdered sugar, 125 g almond meal, 30 g granulated sugar. What do you think?

Kardamom's avatar

Yeah, most recipes originally came from classic recipes that were handed down from mother to daughter, back in the olden days before there were even chefs, but when the chefs started cooking in restaurants (and for royalty), most of them were probably trained in similar ways of classic methods in culinary schools. I believe that most TV chefs were also trained in the “classic methods” although many, now are also coming out of their own restaurant situations where they were either self taught or learned from other non-culinary school chefs that cooked in their own restaurants and passed down their wisdom from their own parents (who cooked in the home) and then they took those recipes, used them in their own restaurants and then taught other younger (untrained cooks) how to cook.

You can probably tell that I watch a lot of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Chopped! So I hear the stories of how the “chefs” were trained and how the recipes came to be. On triple D I would say that the majority of restaurant owner/chefs were trained by their own parents, either in the restaurant itself, if it’s an old restaurant, or they learned at home and took their parents recipes into their restaurants. But gravy, even coming down through the generations is likely to be similar to gravy in other restaurants, with a few tweaks and surprises. And some chefs on triple D have come from a more classic culinary training, but have brought their skill and expertise into what looks like a diner, but with more upscale dishes. The best of both worlds. On chopped (where I think the judges are really mean, and the challenges are silly, because in a real restaurant chefs would probably not choose to pair Captain Crunch cereal with raw octopus) most of the chefs either went to culinary school and either own or work in restaurants or they’re self taught, but either teach cooking or write cookbooks or run catering businesses. Most of the folks on that show, do not work in Mom and Pop style restaurants and didn’t learn from their parents. But even so, if they have to make gravy, there’s will still be similar to the gravy made by the folks on triple D (or by Giada, or Paula Deen, bless her heart, or Rachel Ray or the Neelys, love me some Neelys!)

But either way, some recipes, for say Mac and Cheese or meatballs or minestrone soup are going to have the same basic ingredients, with a few minor tweaks here and there. Not sure, under what conditions you are allowed to take an online recipe or one from a cookbook and make one or 2 changes and call it an original recipe.

I tweak recipes all the time, sometimes to a pretty good degree, and in that case, I call them my own original recipes. But if I was only changing amounts or one or 2 ingredients (unless it was something major, like using tomatoes instead of strawberries) I wouldn’t call it my original recipe.

I just put together a CD of recipes for my cousin’s 50th birthday. It’s not for sale or anything like that, so I’m not worried about copywrite infringement (but I would worry about that, if I was making a blog or a cookbook for sale). I found 50 recipes (4 of which were my original recipes) and cut and pasted the ingredients list and the instructions into a Word document that I formatted, so that they all looked similar in style and fit onto one page, for easy printing (or not if she wants to save a tree) then I saved it as PDF file, so it wouldn’t accidentally get altered or deleted.

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