Archive for Cuisine

Culinary “Misappropriation”: legal matters relating to Intellectual Property

bacon pie

This piece of a larger pie called the “Salty Hog Pie” from the Village Inn located in Phoenix, Arizona, but recipes can be found for similar pies on the Internet (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

In the world of food, legal matters do exist.  It is important for chefs and cooks to be held liable for their cooking and baking.  People know that there have been court cases relating to this topic, what people do not know is that there has been “culinary misappropriation” by chefs.  This is concerning their cuisine style choices and using other chef’s recipes without the permission of said chef.

One such example of the cuisine style choice was the feud between chef Eddie Huang and writer/editor Francis Lam.  The basic idea is that Francis Lam wrote about an American writer who made a successful Asian restaurant.  Chef Eddie Huang is calling the idea of white American chefs opening restaurants out of their ethnicity “culinary misappropriation.”  How do other chefs feel about this topic?  Chef Margaret Thompson said, “In a way, I can understand his point. We call this “bastardization.” Taking, say an Asian cuisine and having no roots in the culture, you make it how you think Asian, Italian, or whatever should be. It will no longer be authentic. Perhaps then this cuisine should be called fusion.  The argument for purity or misappropriation is no longer substantiated.”

The idea of fusion cuisine and having restaurants comes at a price to some chefs; some ideas for dishes and recipes may already exist for their place of business.  One example where a recipe was “stolen,” was on the show Top Chef: All-Stars.  What happened was that chef Richard Blais shared a recipe/dish idea with chef Mike Isabella, a competing chef on the show.  During a “Quick-fire Challenge,” Mike Isabella used the idea that he and chef Blais were talking about earlier in the day.  Judge and chef Tom Colicchio wrote an article about the episode and the intellectual property issue created by the dish.  In the article, he wrote, “That said, intellectual property laws do not govern dishes. Menu items that appear in one restaurant can be reproduced in another. Even recipes that appear in a published and copyrighted cookbook can be made in any restaurant in the world. In fact, if a chef changed one single ingredient, s/he could even reprint the recipe in his/her own cookbook.”

Autumn Chop Salad

This is an Autumn Chop Salad created by Chef Margaret Thompson for her family in Phoenix, Arizona from a recipe she found on the Internet (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Chef Margaret Thompson has these feelings on the matter, “Well, I think all dishes come from the same recipe and chefs “re-create” them to make them their own.  If the customers do not like the latest spin on the recipe, the chef will go back and tweak it, until people are satisfied.  Lets take a tamale for instance; it is basically masa, lard, and some hot water on the outside, but there are hundreds of combinations of fillings. It all originated with a pork shoulder and went from there.   Each chef added or subtracted from the original recipe. Nobody really owns it.”

Another article presented about the “Blais v. Isabella issue” creates the idea of “Chef Law.”  Chef Law is explained as the following, “Chefs don’t use other chefs recipes.”  This is why there is a perceived problem among chefs.  Should chefs be punished for “culinary misappropriation”?  “If they out and out looked in the person’s recipe file or sat in their restaurant and took notes or pictures and used it in their own restaurant or in a contest or published this, then I say whatever rules/ consequences that apply to plagiarism should apply here,” said chef Thompson.

Each idea presents its own problems and solutions.  Chef Tom Colicchio said it best, “How often have we heard the chefs say that they were making dishes inspired by dishes their grandmothers used to make? In Quickfire Challenges, sometimes the chefs create a new dish on the spot; sometimes they do something inspired by other dishes. Yes, it’s bad form to lift a competing chef’s concept so baldly, and it is rotten for Richard that Mike did so, but Mike still had to execute the concept well. There’s no Intellectual Property law governing such a move, and no Top Chef law against it.”

This idea could be applied to people of other ethnicities opening restaurants outside their own ethnicity as well.  All that matters is how the food tastes to the people eating and enjoying it.

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Specialty Supermarket for Mexican Food in Phoenix

 

Bull

This is the “Welcome to Pro’s Ranch Market” bull sign that invites you to explore the store in one of the Phoenix locations (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

chicken

This man is cooking some marinated chicken outside one of the Pro’s Ranch Market stores in Phoenix (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Chicharrones

These are chicharrones (fried pork rinds) which are a traditional ingredient in many Mexican dishes found at Pro’s Ranch Market in Phoenix (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Most of the desert southwest borders Mexico and therefore has a lot of Mexican influence on food and drink.  There is also a higher population of Mexican-Americans in the area, especially in larger cities like Phoenix, Arizona.  One company realized this and created Pro’s Ranch Markets with seven locations across the Phoenix metro area, two in El Paso, Texas and two in New Mexico.  The grocery store company of Fry’s also created a specifically Mexican store in Phoenix called the Fry’s Mercado.  The food that is in these stores relates to Mexican cuisine.  A small list of ingredients is found at IndyWeek.com.

 Mexican cuisine like all the other cuisines found around the world is a culinary adventure and it is nice when specific stores become dedicated to serving the people that like to serve their cuisine.

Agua Frescas

These are two flavored aqua frescas made with traditional Mexican ingredients found at one of the Pro’s Ranch Market stores in Phoenix (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

Virgin Guadalupe

This is a Virgin Guadalupe statue surrounded by her Prayer Candles inside one of the Pro’s Ranch Market stores in Phoenix (Photo by Christina Thompson 2012).

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Travels to Metamora,Indiana

Departing from Grand Central Station in Connersville, Indiana, is the scenic Whitewater Valley Railroad.  It travels along the Whitewater River and Canals to a town called Metamora, Indiana and it only does this once on Saturday and once on Sunday, so the trip is sure to be special.  Once in Metamora, there is plenty to see and do.  One place to stop and eat is called, The Smelly Gourmet, where samples of family grown popcorn is given to patrons while they wait for one of many homemade Panini sandwiches and pita chips.  They are also known for their coffee bar.  Tasty dessert places can also be found around town like Mr. Fudge’s Confectionary that features an antique soda fountain and Grannie’s Cookie Jars and Ice Cream Parlor where over 2400 different cookie jars are on display and ice cream is scooped into homemade waffle cones.  Throughout the year, Metamora also has food related festivals.  The first weekend of June, they have the Strawberry Daze festival.  In October, they have the ever-popular Canal Days event where vendors of all kinds come to celebrate the town with the canal.  Finally, in November, they have a Chili cook-off.  Metamora, Indiana is a town for people who love antiques, trains, history, haunted houses, and most importantly, great homemade food.

 

 

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Cinco de Flying Pig

People from all across the Tri-State area come to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig Marathon and what better way to combine the festivities of Cinco de Mayo and the Flying Pig than to have a giant party on Fountain Square. There were drinks, food, live entertainment, and pig décor for people to enjoy. There was even a giant pig piñata that was going to be hoisted up for people to take a whack at it!

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