March 2, 2006

menu development and licensing

Posted in development at 12:27 am by foodhacking

Hello, I have been working on menu development and other food projects- they are very exciting and I love talking about them with people, but I feel shy about posting them out on the internet until they “launch” into people’s mouths. Once that’s done, I will open-source the recipes and development notes here in this blog.

Menu development is fun and fantastic and I am going in some supercool stimulating directions that I think will really expand and challenge my aesthetic. Sometimes I look at recipes i’m working on and think: “that’s a ripoff of something from the Fat Duck/Jardiniere/WD-50/El Bulli/blah blah”- that’s the nature of cooking, right? You can’t copyright the important part of a recipe: the list of components. Every technique or dish you learn is reused in some other dish you make. Like knitting patterns, the cooking world should be ideally suited to concepts like “open source” and Creative Commons licensing, having a moral belief system about proprietary knowledge that is complementary to free flow of information. All chefs steal others’ recipes regularly, and they’re blatant about it and okay with it since the personal/team skill is what really makes this incarnation of a dish unique.

I don’t really think about licensing recipes- I just assume everyone can use them no matter what, since there’s no copyright notice. maybe it’s important to have a Creative Commons license to make a statement about how copyright can be used for good, but then the license usually has the requirement of Attribution. Attribution in cooking is polite- paying homage to the innovators of cuisine. Who you stole the recipe from. But at some level, if you are cooking the dish, it’s your dish and attributing it to other people can seem over-necessary or psychotic, especially with classical french stuff where the names of dishes and techniques often don’t even link to the chef, but the object of the chef’s affections (Melba Toast! Bet she loves being remembered for toast.) I’m not a big fan of Attribution for my own stuff, but I will always endeavor to name the sources and inspirations for dishes- that’s part of the enjoyment of someone’s cuisine, knowing the origination.

If you ever use recipes from this development, let me know! Even if you don’t let anyone else know. My cuisine is attempting to communicate with your cuisine- and if we are lucky enough to sample each others’ cooking, our dishes become an ongoing dialogue.



  1. Jennifer said,

    You can always use a CC license that doesn’t require attribution, like the one for my blog, The Shout. Meanwhile, how about posting the recipes for the dinner we had last Thursday? I’m craving that souffle. And the crab ravioli. And the parsnip soup….

  2. I wonder if there is such a thing as unit tests and or a testing framework for food. Like with sushi, you use ginger to cleanse the palate to keep the senses properly adjusted for the next delicious morsel — might be overkill, but including similar kinds of “test” conditions in addition to recipes could be an awesomely geeked out addition to opensource recipes 🙂

    Probably not necessary to use an automated build system, but maybe keeping recipes in CVS or DARCS or some kind of publicly accessible source-control would enable one to `make` menus.

    Please kill me.

  3. Discovery Channel paging Marc Powell. Please email me. Keen on your mg science.

  4. Frances MacKinnon said,

    Sorry, that was the wrong email address. Please email me, I’d really like to chat about a feature Discovery is doing on Molecular Gastronomy. Many thanks.

  5. Marc, I’m doing the same kind of feature. Can you email me? Sorry to have to do this through the comments page — I know it’s a breach of netiquette, but you don’t have an email I can find.

    yr pal,
    Mr. Cutlets

  6. Antibush said,

    Bush is forever saying that democracies do not invade other countries and start wars. Well, he did just that. He invaded Iraq, started a war, and killed people. What do you think? How does that work in a democracy again? How does being more threatening make us more likeable?Isn’t the country with
    the most weapons the biggest threat to the rest of the world? When one country is the biggest threat to the rest of the world, isn’t that likely to be the most hated country?
    Are we safer today than we were before?
    We have lost friends and influenced no one. No wonder most of the world thinks we suck. Thanks to what george bush has done to our country during the past three years, we do!

  7. black_mamba said,

    Is this gonna Kill You? No i Dont Think so !

  8. misty said,


  9. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this outstanding blog! Come on

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