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Much luck asking for a chef's recipe?

I just e-mailed a favorite, but distant restaurant asking if the chef could be persuaded to share the recipe for a favorite soup, that i've had no success in duplicating. I do hope this was appropriate, it is a restaurant that i visit when i can , but it's in another province!! I made sure to give large dollops of praise in the mix !!

Do people have much luck with this?

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  1. I've never asked for the actual recipe, although I have talked to chefs (at restaurants where I am a very regular customer) about the method they employed when making a dish. They have been very generous about sharing general information. At 2 different restaurants (once a long time ago and the other time this past fall), I was offered the recipe of a dish I ordered frequently. And I have made each of these recipes at home. The first recipe probably 20 times and the second twice. Amazingly with the same results! Woo hoo!

    1 Reply
    1. re: msv

      Hi MSV, mind sharing those recipe? :o)

    2. Some times I've had good luck, other times no. But with the "no" restaurants I have had success using a newspaper column which asks the restaurant, gives a write-up & prints the recipe as the intermediary. I guess they feel the free press makes it worth while.

      1. I've been fortunate enough to have received recipes every time I've asked. All of them hand-written, delivered by the lovely chefs. Humorously enough, a few also came with:

        "I've been doing this for so long I can't give you a recipe for anything less than 500 servings."

        1. I've had pretty good luck asking for recies, but I've always asked the chef face to face. If you don't get a response, I'm not sure they still do it, but Gourmet magazine used to have a feature where they would get recipes for people who couldn't get them otherwise. Hope you get your recipe by return email!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caroline1

            There used to be a fantastic Italian in Berlin (well, it still exists but switched either owners or chefs... sigh) that prepared the most delicious caponata. While I found a great recipe online, it's still not even near what I ate there. And when I asked, they just smiled and said it's secret.... I've actually thought of writing Gourmet magazine just to get that particular recipe ---

          2. Framed, on my kitchen wall, is a recipe for Butter Bread from the executive chef at the Amari Watergate Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. This was a sweet, soft, buttery roll that was on the breakfast buffet table every morning, and you had to get there early to get any. People were grabbing them by the handfuls and must, I assumed, have been stashing them away for lunch. My friend dared me to ask for the recipe, and so I did at the front desk. The next morning, slipped beneath my door, was the hand-typed recipe along with a business card and a handwritten note, in English, that reads: “Enjoy and have fun. Culinary greetings” and is signed by the chef. It never hurts to ask.

            5 Replies
            1. re: JoanN


              It kinda reminds me of the time I asked for the recipe for the dinner rolls at Buntyn Cafe in Memphis and was given and emphatic, "No"

              Buntyn is no longer around so I hear. It does lend credence to the belief I have that the better the restaurant, the more likely you are to get the recipe. It's like the smaller/mom and pop type places are more insecure about losing the business.


              1. re: JoanN


                Would you consider posting the Butter Bread recipe in the Home Cooking board?

                1. re: content

                  I'd be happy to. But all measurements are in grams. Is that okay?

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Joan, I'm not the one who requested the recipe but I'd say yes, of course it's okay if the recipe is in grams. I have a program (Worldmate) on my PDA that converts weights and volumes. If you post, I'll follow with the conversions for anyone who is interested.

                    1. re: Deenso

                      Thanks, Deenso. I just posted it on the Home Cooking board.

              2. not normally and issue. jfood has tried a couple of times and either the chef asks for an email address or ask that you send them an email. Prior to email (yes there was a time not too long ago), one restaurant asked jfood to send a letter to Gourmet Magazine asking for the recipe and copying the chef. No biggie for jfood. Sent the two letters the next day and 20 years later mrs jfood has made that chocolate cake probably 75 times for guests, each time as good as the memory.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jfood

                  Sounds like that is a recipe you might want to post on HC! Is that the cake you baked?

                2. An enthusiastic attitude and a nice smile have gotten me recipes at many places where I asked for them. Occasionally, the recipe has been in restaurant-size proportions, but it's not too difficult to ratio it down.

                  It never hurts to ask!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Missyme

                    We have a local owned pizza restaurant the we visit occasionally. One evening when I picked up some milkshakes (he sells ice cream and some other foods as well), I mentioned that I'd been trying to perfect a homemade pizza crust. I couldn't believe it when he grabbed a piece of paper and started jotting down the measurements for his crust. Of course, it makes a whole lot more than I'd need in a year. lol Ten pounds of flour makes a lot of pizza crusts!

                    1. re: alliedawn_98

                      If everything is in weights it is pretty easy to convert the formula to bakers percentages. Then you can easily scale the recipe to whatever finished dough weight you need.

                  2. sadly...the e-mail was returned undeliverable....i think the website had it down wrong :(

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: im_nomad

                      alexander graham bell it. call and ask for the recipe or the correct url.

                    2. Nope. No luck- not even when I wokred at the restaurant I was requesting from! Often I hear- "it's a propertairy recipe" which is fine and understandable...All I have been able to get out of the chef is the ingredients- the formula/proportions I've had to figure out on my own!

                      1. I have had luck on 2 different occasions, once at a nice seafood restaurant where some friends had give me a class for their seafood recipes. The Restaurant gave us many more recipes then we used in the class. The other was a nice restaurant 4 of us went one day for their Sunday Brunch. There was a wonderful crumb cake that had to be absolutely the best I had ever eaten. I asked the waitress if there was anyway she could get the recipe for me, and 10 minutes later she brought it out to me. I made it this year for Christmas and it turned out wonderful.

                        1. I've only had luck in getting Lark Creek Inn's lemonade recipe! And it didn't really sound like the lemonade we had...so there's that.

                          1. I know, here at Disney, that a lot of times recipes will be given as the chefs know that when people come here sometimes it's a once in a life time thing and they want to recreate the dish at home that they had here to celebrate their anniversary, etc. There's a website that has a lot of Disney recipes as well, but I'm not sure if I can share it here. You can find it by googling "Disney recipes".

                            1. i have done that before and gotten the recipe, but,

                              1) we were regulars (10 of us had a weekly reservation)
                              2) the restaurent had just been sold since the chef was retiring
                              3) i was moving out of town

                              1. also, with older restaurants or hotel restaurants, they will have certain recipes that are predetermined "okay" to give away.

                                1. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Many chefs are thrilled to be asked, and don't consider their recipes at all secret.

                                  I have received recipes that made 50 portions of something and couldn't be reduced to family proportions. I've been told to look in published cookbooks. I have received recipes that were better than the version I was served (in one case, with a plaintive comment that management had cheapened it and dumbed it down - though it was still good enough to ask for). There have been comments to the effect of "here's what's in it, but I have no idea of how much of anything I use".

                                  While I don't have any issue with being refused, I get really bummed out when I'm sent a recipe that doesn't make the real dish. Certainly say no, or don't reply at all. But please don't leave out a crucial "secret" ingredient without telling me what you've done, and please don't send a recipe that actually makes something else.

                                  If you want a recipe from a corporate chain (hey, it happens), you will most likely be out of luck. If they haven't published it in their PR, they will say "proprietary secret". Usually you're better off not knowing :-)

                                  1. Mary Brady at Diamond Jim Brady's Bistro in Novi, Mi has been very generous with information not only on ingredients but also technique. She's a gem. Has anyone been able to get Susan Spicer's (Bayona, NO) sweetbreads?? They are awsome!

                                    1. I was at a place in Santa Fe several years ago, and had the best "cornbread pudding" I've ever had. It was a side dish, and the waiter wrote down the recipe on a paper napkin for me. Unfortunately (and rather funny) it started with:

                                      1 32 oz of canned corn.
                                      2 lbs of unsalted butter
                                      1 qt. heavy cream.

                                      Since it was just a side dish, the kitchen didn't seem to mind giving out the recipe.