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Asking a restaurant for recipe

I have never done this before. Is this a common, accepted thing to do? I had this amazing pasta dish at a restaurant that I will likely never go to again, as it was during some travels. Would it be appropriate to call and ask for the recipe?

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  1. I have asked for recipes and gotten them, but never by phone. But hey what have you got to lose? The worst that can happen is they hang up on you, right? Take a deep breath and pick up the phone. And good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Caroline1

      I just flashed back to being seventeen. "Please don't let her Dad answer . . ."

    2. I agree with Caroline1. I have asked and received recipes from restaurants. Some have said it's a secret, but none have been rude to me.

      1. I think it's not something you should do for a restaurant in your area as you can frequent the restaurant, but if it's a place you encounter on your travels then you can make contact as you're unlikely to experience that again (just a personal view, and not a rule by any means).

        I've done so before (email, not phone) - complimenting them on the meal, indicating that I'd dined there in my travels and asking if they were willing to reveal the ingredients/recipe.

        1 Reply
        1. re: haiku.

          How will the restaurant know where you live?
          i don't think that should matter.
          Sharing is sharing.
          If the restaurant feels threatened by little old me making their food, they've got bigger problems than a patron paying them an ultimate compliment.

        2. You most certainly can. I have never called though or e-mailed. What I have done is sent a hand written note complementing them on a particular dish and asked if they could e-mail it or write me back with the ingredients.
          I revisited one restaurant in particular, which has since closed, and was very pleased to see they the owner/chef put my note on display for others to see as you entered the restaurant.
          As my dad used to say, if you want milk from the cow, stroke her gently!

          1. I'd ask for recipe... what do you have to lose?

            Had an appetizer at someplace on Sea Side, NJ boardwalk that was very tastey... and BIG enough to be a meal with maybe a side salad. I didn't ask for recipe, but knew I could duplicate it at home. Grilled portabello mushroom, topped with grilled/roasted red pepper, grilled chicken, and topped with mozz. Have made several different version with no fails... subbed pork/beef tenderloin for chicken, added grilled onions, changed up cheese to cheddar, etc.

            1. I would write or e-mail rather than call - I have tried twice. Once a local restaurant stopped serving my favorite dish, so I asked if they wouldn't mind sharing the recipe. I received no response. I e-mailed another restaurant out of town and got a lovely and gracious reply from the head chef - no recipe, but some hints. Lay the compliments on a little thick - everyone loves that.

              1 Reply
              1. re: NonnieMuss

                I think hints can get you more than halfway there.
                I'll often ask "Is X in this?".
                That way, I get the gist and can go from there.

              2. I asked for a green chile stew recipe at a restaurant in Roswell, New Mexico and they told me to go to Hell.

                12 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    Problem is, the proprietor is a flaming a-hole.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            did they actually say 'go to hell'? lol edit just saw someone already asked

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      Well, that's blunt!
                      A simple "no" would do!

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        They actually said *go to hell*? That is beyond cretin-like for a legitimate business enterprise to respond to a consumer in such an aggressive manner.

                        1. re: MamasCooking

                          Ah, I posted with comedic license there. They didn't actually tell me to go to Hell. Rather, they told me to cram my request up my arse sideways. ;)

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Well then that is a bit more civil:) Those twits.

                          1. re: elegraph

                            I understand green chile stew is not heavy on the ground in that particular Hell.

                        2. It's a compliment to them, either way. I doubt anyone is thinking you're going to open a competing restaurant. Some of my best recipes and ideas came from chefs who were secure enough to love sharing.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: coll

                            I think it comes down to loving to please people, loving to share and making people happy.
                            It truly is a huge compliment, and I find it boorish when people tout their "family recipe" and hold the recipe to themselves.
                            "I know something you don't know! Nanny, nanny boo boo"!

                          2. I've called and they have always been very nice though a couple times it was clear they didn't reveal all the secrets. I've only done this with restaurants that are not in town and mostly places that either I loved a dish that I can't seem to recreate or SO's hometown favorite dishes that I know nothing about but he's craving.

                            1. I've never gotten more than ingredients (no measurements), but that works for me, since I don't tend to follow recipes much anyway.

                              A fantastic caponata and a wonderful Syrian hot sauce are the more memorable things I've inquired about.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: linguafood

                                I got a recipe ingredients for a wonderful sauce that was drizzled over flatbread pizza.
                                The young chef was so excited to share.

                                1. re: monavano

                                  I once asked a waiter what brand of canned tomatoes the restaurant used to make their sauce and he said he was forbidden from sharing the brand. He suggested walking past the open kitchen on the way to the bathroom to try and catch a glimpse of the cans.

                                2. re: linguafood

                                  Can I have your recipe for the Syrian hot sauce? ;)

                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Oy. Not really, and it's been a while since I asked. But I'm heading back there in just a few weeks and will try to get back to you on that.

                                    It is heavy on garlic and orange zest; the base is a red pepper puree. The heat comes from Thai bird peppers (!).

                                    That's kinda all I remember right now. It is really great with grilled meats.

                                  2. You have nothing to lose here.
                                    If you decide to call instead of email or writing a letter be sure to do so during off peak hours- like 3-5pm or 10-noon. In the middle of a busy lunch or dinner service the cook will likely not be able/willing to chat.

                                    1. Email them if possible rather than call but asking for a recipe is fine. Most restaurants I have worked in would give recipes happily.

                                      1. The issue isn't asking and getting (or not getting) the recipe.

                                        The issue usually comes in trying to replicate the dish *at home* even with the recipe.

                                        Many restaurant-oriented recipes do not translate to the home kitchen for a variety reasons -- from ingredients, equipment availability and manpower.

                                        6 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            If it's baking, a recipe is needed more than cooking.
                                            With cooking, I've gotten inspiration and direction from restaurants, and usually can replicate at home without an exact recipe, per se.

                                            1. re: monavano

                                              I would say it takes more than the recipe to replicate the food at a restaurant.

                                              Skill, cooking acumen, culinary acuity and talent all play a part.

                                              I was trying to be diplomatic.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                "Skill, cooking acumen, culinary acuity and talent all play a part."

                                                Perhaps give the OP the benefit of doubt. No diplomacy necessary, lest you want it to read as condescension.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Well, I don't expect the food to taste exactly the same!
                                                  I can try to recreate family recipes all I want, but it's still just a tad different.

                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                Biggest issue is scaling the large scale versions down.

                                              3. hi gc, i have always felt that any chef who wouldn't share a recipe- was not someone i'd want to know. (Just my sense of things, not everyone's.) I have asked for maybe 8 recipes in 35 years.And have always had no problem- from soups to salad dressings to cookies to scones. In 5 instances, the businesses eventually closed but i always felt good that the great recipes lived on through my making them. When we travel and eat something terrific, i sometimes ask to meet the chef and we have a neat talk . One of those times i asked for a recipe for his salmon with a cumin tomato broth- and i scribbled as he recited.
                                                But I have rcvd recipes through email more recently, because they have their recipes on their pcs, so can easily forward them.

                                                As you have been coached, make sure to call around 3 (usually the closer to 5, the crazier it gets in the kitchen.)
                                                If that feels too informal to you, and you can get their email, through a website or the manager, email them and tell them you'll call to talk to them.

                                                Sharing seems to be much more part of the program with today's chefs (which is wonderful) so I bet you'll have luck.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  This is my feeling too, a chef that is secretive about their recipes and techniques has bigger issues than just food.

                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                    >>>i have always felt that any chef who wouldn't share a recipe- was not someone i'd want to know<<<

                                                    Keep in mind that if you ask a restaurant Chef for a recipe they may not be able to give it to you because it may not be their recipe to give away. I have worked in restaurants where some of the recipes are from the owner and not the Chef so the Chef does not share it because it is not his/her recipe to share.

                                                  2. I asked for a few recipes at the Taj Ganges hotel in Varanasi, and surprisingly, they already had recipe cards printed!

                                                    1. The only problem that you may encounter is, sometimes restaurant recipes are in volumes that we “at home” wouldn’t even nearly approach

                                                      My son works at a restaurant which is known “world wide” for their zucchini bread (it’s good, people make a big deal about it. I think it’s “okay”)
                                                      A friend of the family asked for the recipe

                                                      They make it in batches of like 50 loaves and everything is done by weight… not exactly easy to convert for home use.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: cgarner

                                                        Very true. As an example, several years ago I got my hands on a pasta sauce recipe from a restaurant that had gone out of bidniss in 1979. I was absolutely thrilled to retrieve this culinary artifact of my childhood, but the thrill turned a bit brass when I realized that the recipe was written in institutional proportions. I wound up having to reduce it by a factor of 20 for it to be workable in my normal, domestic kitchen. Alas, even with the reduction, the sauce is everything I remembered it being and more.

                                                        1. re: cgarner

                                                          I don't get it -- divide by 50?

                                                          It seems as if having weights would make it easier to convert.

                                                          1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                            Well, it would, but you have to work with whatever the restaurant gives you. If the recipe they give isn't in weights to be begin with, you're not going to be able to convert it using weights.


                                                            1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                              Recipes often don't scale quite that cleanly. Particularly with leavening agents, you can't always just double or divide and get the same results.

                                                          2. As a restaurant owner, I work hard to develop innovative dishes using local ingredients. I gave away one of our signature recipes only to find it published in an area newspaper's food column. To make matters worse, the requester went on to win a contest with it at an area festival. I can't begin to estimate the economic impact on our business. So forgive me if I politely decline the next request I receive.

                                                            33 Replies
                                                            1. re: elegraph

                                                              In your estimation, how did this affect filling your seats?
                                                              How did this dilute the impact of said recipe in your restaurant?
                                                              (I'm assuming you were not given credit)

                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                I don't know what effect this had on our numbers or on sales of this menu item. I went against my better judgment and would not do it again if asked, even if I were given credit. Since a recipe can't be copyrighted, except for the process, the only protection we have against its misuse is to keep it private. Since it was published, any restaurant in the area can reproduce this item, and not necessarily well.

                                                                1. re: elegraph

                                                                  Thanks for your thoughts.
                                                                  I think for the purposes of this thread, we're talking about the fun of replicating a delicious dish at home, but to take a chef's/restaurant's recipe and run with it as your own is pathetic.
                                                                  To profit in some way, really, really low.

                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                    I had a friend who called to tell me she was starting a business making my home made crumb cake. She's not my friend anymore, even though the business never got off the ground.

                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                      Did your friend at any point get the idea that she was "stealing" from you?
                                                                      Again, it's great to share my recipes for others to make in their home, or to give away or entertain with. It would be another thing if my recipe became someone else's Cinnabon, or Famous Amos!

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        No, she acted entitled to it since she had made it numerous times. Didn't even ask me to be her taste tester ;-)

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            so since we're talking crumb cakes-share :)))))))

                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                              This is a true New York, bakery style, crumb cake.

                                                                              DAD'S CRUMB CAKE

                                                                              Grease a 12x18x1" baking pan.
                                                                              Preheat oven to 350.

                                                                              One box of white or yellow cake mix: Mix as directed except sub milk for water.
                                                                              Spread on the baking sheet. Bake approx. 20 minutes, then cool 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile...

                                                                              Prepare crumbs:
                                                                              Melt 2 sticks of butter and 2 sticks of margarine.
                                                                              Add to this:
                                                                              4 cups flour
                                                                              1 1/3 cup sugar
                                                                              pinch salt
                                                                              1 Tbsp cinnamon
                                                                              1 tsp nutmeg
                                                                              2 tsp vanilla
                                                                              2 tsp baking powder

                                                                              Mix all above into a ball of dough.
                                                                              Crumble on top of the baked cake and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer.
                                                                              Cool cake and sprinkle with confectioner sugar.

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                do you have a Mom's crumb cake recipe that doesn't use box cake mix? hehe

                                                                                1. re: Monica

                                                                                  Nope this is the one for me! Actually my Dad was a way better cook than Mom, sad to say.

                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                  I LOVE the amount of nutmeg in there. so often I think it's a few scrapes across a rasp and that's it. never enough for me, unless of course it's overkill. < doubtful...

                                                                                  thanks coll...................yummmmmmmmmmmmm

                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                    I'm a nut for nutmeg!! I only use whole myself.

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      I used to only have whole and alway use whole but over Christmas I found a jar of ground waaaay on sale so now I have both. at the bulk store it's $18.97 a unit whereas something like cumin is $1.22 a unit. I had to grab it-who could resist?

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        coll, I think you have a new forever fan. since he is such a fan of Scottish Shortbread this cake of yours has several of the same flavors but a very soft tender bite.
                                                                                        thank you for sharing.

                                                                                    2. re: coll

                                                                                      something in this kitchen must smell very good right now, 10 mins left in last bake-hope he loves it :)

                                                                                      that goo on top was a blast to make :)

                                                                                  2. re: coll

                                                                                    You dropped a friend over something that petty? Just curious was it like some huge centuries old *family secret* recipe;)?

                                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                      Why would you consider that petty? Although I'll admit it was the last straw of dealing with an extremely self centered person.

                                                                                      But no, I am going to write out the recipe for iL Divo shortly; it's an old NY bakery style recipe, starting with a box of cake mix. The crumbs are its crowning touch. I've given it out here several times before, I don't have any secrets in my kitchen.

                                                                                3. re: coll

                                                                                  hmmm, coll, i mean no offense here but i want to raise some issues. (I posted on this thread way earlier and am just catching up on recent posts.)

                                                                                  1)Someone once said to me that the minute you publish your recipe or post it on the web- you have relinquished it, because it becomes part of a huge world and anyone can use it for any reason, giving credit or not. And since you have posted the recipe here,.............

                                                                                  2) Unless you yourself have created a unique recipe, then it's likely that 'there's nothing new under the sun' pertains to 'your' recipe as well. Someone out there in this big world- has done it before you, and someone has done it before them and it prob wouldn't take that much effort to find it elsewhere.... So getting all hot and bothered, and feeling entitled about "Mine, mine mine" is very likely a waste of time.
                                                                                  Aside from feeling this to be generally true, I have seen numerous specific examples where someone will say "All these years, i was positive my dad's recipe was invented by him, but i found the same recipe today in a garden club cookbook from 1960....."
                                                                                  You cut off a friend, i think, because she didn't show the consideration of a friend- thanking you for the recipe and telling you she hopes to base a business on it. I completely understand that. But if you think she 'doesn't have a right' to start a business with it, what about when you eventually find that recipe in other sources? She could just as easily have run across those sources, but she ran across you as a source, first. And , as to profiting from said recipe, remember that finding a recipe and building a successful business with it- are two comPLETEly different things.

                                                                                  I don't know. I have to say that i strongly feel that posession of a recipe is like posession of an idea. Why is it important that we all get credit? Receiving credit is a sign of manners and respect, but because i can never know how many people have experienced one of my ideas, or one of my recipes, I prefer to just feel good or hope that that idea or recipe will live on through people liking it and spreading its use. Wouldn't your dad get a kick out of knowing that his daughter spread his recipe around and other people passed it on, and it made alot of people happy?

                                                                                  And finally, an example in another area. Central Park, NYC. It wouldn't exist if someone hadn't come up with the original idea. And that landscape wouldn't exist without Olmsted. So, zillions of people get pleasure from Central Park, but does Olmsted get credit from them? No, he doesn't, but maybe the happiness of all those people is more important than that.

                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                    You know, I think the advent of the information age has devalued intellectual property and people think nothing anymore of stealing a photo or a recipe or someone's writing.

                                                                                    I think when you create a thing of beauty, --whether it be a symphony, poem, photo, painting or amazing cake-- it should belong to you and is yours to give freely or sell or hide away (although, please don't!) as you choose. You should get credit for it! Others shouldn't profit it from it, and most certainly not without your permission. Don't we want artists to be able to make a fair living creating their art so they can inspire and enrich us all, instead of having to toil away at some meaningless job to scratch out a living so they can do their art in their spare time?

                                                                                    Of course, this isn't necessarily how the law thinks of intellectual property, partly because of the reasons you describe, but just the fact that we're having this discussion is an indication that we all somehow understand that a recipe is special and does somehow belong to the person that created it and they should get credit for it.

                                                                                    My grandmother still to this day is reluctant to share her recipes. And when she does, she expects you to behave as if a great gift has been bestowed upon you, and believe me, I do!

                                                                                    I don't think she was ever one of those people who would "share" her recipe but leave out the secret ingredient so that no matter what, if you showed up at church with a bowl of chili claiming it was hers people would still be able to tell it's not the same, but we've all heard those stories.

                                                                                    I think people understand recipes are special. And you can certainly understand why a business might wish to protect them. Why shouldn't private individuals be able to? (although I don't necessarily mean legally). I once bought a woman's family recipe for a cake at a charity auction for $100--I'm sure it was not much different than other recipes for this same cake from that era, but she delivered it to me lovingly written out in her own hand. It is so special to me. When I caught a woman stealing my rhubarb this past summer, I asked for her recipe as compensation. When someone many summers ago wanted to harvest my rhubarb, she promised me some of her mother's famous rhubarb muffins, which she delivered to me, along with the recipe, the next day.

                                                                                    I don't think I've ever withheld a recipe that has been requested of me (frankly, I'm always just relieved to know people enjoyed my cooking), but I'd be furious if I learned someone asked for my recipe under the pretense that it was for personal use, and then tried to make a business from it.

                                                                                    On the other hand, I think most of us can relate to a special food memory we have that we wish to somehow relive or recreate for our loved ones.That is why I treasure my grandmother's recipes, or long for the recipe to recreate the chicken satay I had at the market the day I first arrived in Southeast Asia, or the pancakes I had on at that fancy hotel on vacation. That's why threads like this exist: (Salmagundi) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7122... this (King Taco) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3060... or this (shortbread cookies in the blue can) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4432... or this (raspberry velveeta squares) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6540... or this (recipes you lust for but haven't found the exact one) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9090...

                                                                                    That's why the RSVP column of Bon Appetit Magazine exists. http://www.bonappetit.com/tag/rsvp


                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      "When someone many summers ago wanted to harvest my rhubarb, she promised me some of her mother's famous rhubarb muffins, which she delivered to me, along with the recipe, the next day" I love that TDQ. great story.
                                                                                      thanks for sharing..............

                                                                                    2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                      Thanks for taking the time to reply so thoughtfully. This was more personal than legal, in case that's not clear. I wasn't going to hire a lawyer! I have a lot of background in the food business so I know that's business as usual. The "friendship" (actually my husband's friend's wife) was hanging by a thread anyway.

                                                                                      Anyway once she found out all the health dept rules here in NY (she apparently thought she'd be doing this in her own kitchen!) it fell by the wayside. I have cheerfully shared that recipe, and many many others here over the years, and for all I know I've created some millionaires along the way ;-) If so, don't get me wrong, I am more than happy for them. I believe in cosmic consciousness and all that jazz as much as anyone. It was only a last straw, not a sudden fit of anger on my part.

                                                                                      If I remember later...has there ever been a thread about people "stealing" recipes? That would be lots of fun!

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        oh no -- a "stealing recipes" thread. girlfriend, you are a-courtin' trouble with a capital T.

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          I know, I'm still hesitating! But I am sure I will be in the right fighting mood someday soon.

                                                                                          Right now I'm defending the fact that I bought a ham for Easter on sale the other day, so I'll have to fight that battle first ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                            .....you don't have to defend anything coll......go buy 27 more hams and live it up

                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                              If I had a couple more freezers, I would! And then wait for the inevitable post about how expensive meat is getting.

                                                                                            2. re: coll

                                                                                              oh that ham! ;-). i won't tell you how long i've kept a ham in the fridge.

                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                Well this one is dated June, so it will be residing in the fridge until I use it. I'll probably get around to it next time I need more room in there, and not before.

                                                                              2. re: elegraph

                                                                                " I gave away one of our signature recipes only to find it published in an area newspaper's food column. "

                                                                                I have seen the Journal-Sentinel do the same thing. Did the person give you credit for the recipe of did they claim it was their own?

                                                                                1. re: Fowler

                                                                                  No, they didn't claim it was theirs. The only wrongdoing was mine, for giving them the recipe in the first place. I was flattered by the request. After it was published I felt it was no longer special to our restaurant. That's why I wouldn't do it again.

                                                                                  1. re: elegraph

                                                                                    During my food blog days, I did try to recreate a dish or two from restaurant dishes. I did not have a recipe, just inspiration and maybe a hint or two, and I gave credit for that inspiration, writing about it with enthusiasm.

                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                      That is the classy way to do things, monavano. Good for you to give credit for the inspiration.

                                                                                2. re: elegraph

                                                                                  I see both sides of this argument
                                                                                  you can "own" a recipe... Moriabito Baking Company had their recipe book stolen and the guy went to jail for two years

                                                                                  I've also had recipes and ideas 'borrowed' by my son and taken to the different restaurants he's worked... and used as specials, returning on a regular basis.
                                                                                  None of those recipes are credited to me, I don't receive any financial reward for any of them, it's just made me hold my recipes closer to my chest, so to speak than I had in the past.
                                                                                  I no longer share "my" recipes on recipe exchange websites either. I also learned that once you do that, it's not "your" recipe anymore

                                                                                3. I was in a restaurant having the very food I was asking the recipe for-that's worded weird sorry....anyway they asked the chef who said he'd have it sent to my room. I called the resto twice and never did get it. was that chefs way of saying "really? oh HAIL no!!!" or did he just forget (shrugged shoulders)

                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                    Maybe the server was just being nice (and/or hoping for a better tip!)

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      About thirty years ago our neighbor paid $500.00 for the recipe for russian salad dressing served at a 'fine dining' restaurant.
                                                                                      She asked to see the chef. He came out and quietly told her to meet him in a hour behind the restaurant and bring $500.00 in cash. She did. He produced a hand written recipe for his 'special take' on russian dressing. She was VERY excited to make this dressing. We were the first ones she served the dressing to a while later.
                                                                                      It wasn't any better than Kraft. Maybe worse.
                                                                                      We assured her she had made a great bargain though.

                                                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                          $500.00 then is close to $1,600.00 today. If they were foolish enough to pay that kind of money for a Russian salad dressing recipe so they could make it at home they almost deserved to get ripped off.

                                                                                          1. re: Fowler

                                                                                            She wasn't too worried. She was a stay at home mom with four teen age boys. Living in the big beautiful house she had inherited on ten acres.
                                                                                            Her husband was a 'Longshoreman' forman and also the local union leader. He actually spent more time 'traveling' in his official union leader capacity then actually working on the docks. Two nice long 'family vacations' a year to some where 'warm'. Always the latest model 'his and her' vehicles.
                                                                                            Boys all in private schools.
                                                                                            One day the husband fell or was pushed, depending on who's telling the story, out an upstairs window. He survived but never was right in the head again.

                                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                              Do I detect a hint of bitterness?

                                                                                              You sure know some "interesting" folks.

                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                Ya I do. Don't you?
                                                                                                "Bitterness"? The union delegate is living in a 'home'. 'Mom' lives with her twenty year old boy friend some where in Northern Ontario near a nickel mine. I think she works in a truck shop. Two of the boys are dead from drugs. One is in jail and the other drives a gravel truck...occasionally.
                                                                                                I have two daughters who are RN's. One son who is a chef. One son who is a head driller on a water rig. One daughter who is an executive in the HR department of one of the largest hotel chains in the world. "Bitter"?Thankful more likely pal.

                                                                                          2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                            this reminds me of the $250 Nieman Marcus Chocolate Chip recipe story

                                                                                            1. re: cgarner

                                                                                              cgarner, i was thinking the same thing.

                                                                                              1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                Isn't that Neiman Marcus cookie urban legend though? http://www.snopes.com/business/consum...

                                                                                                The story that blows my mind is the Tollhouse Cookie story! http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs...


                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  it is an Urban Legend TDQ but it's the sentiment behind it that reminded me of the story

                                                                                            2. re: coll

                                                                                              yep, possible, but the tip was more than the dessert, which is all I ordered, so I think not...........

                                                                                              it was the second time I'd had it there after looking all over the city for this same after dinner/late night indulgence. had been told a few times over my time there that they just had to corner to chef for it. no matter in the long run, my home made ooooops of a version was much better and ultra fresh so no matter.

                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                All you need is a point in the right direction, and then....hold on!

                                                                                          3. I've recently emailed a popular restaurant in NYC for their amazing appetizer(chicken liver pate) and they were nice enough to email me back with the recipe. They did say not to publish it online or distribute it. I was very greatful.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Monica

                                                                                              Yeah, to me, it's like a song. It's cool that people enjoy listening to it, but it's even cooler when they learn to play and sing it themselves.

                                                                                              1. re: Monica

                                                                                                that was lovely of them Monica

                                                                                              2. As a sweet young thing said to me, "It doesn't hurt to ask, and you may be pleasantly surprised."

                                                                                                I have no real desire to replicate memorable dishes. For me, it is one of the pleasures of dining out.

                                                                                                1. I've asked for two cocktail recipes and one appetizer. The cocktails were via email/FB and local establishments. The app was over the phone and for a restaurant in NYC (I'm in the Baltimore suburbs). The requests in writing were much more effective than over the phone. I was able to adequately express my affection for the recipes and explain how I was going to use them (in one case, it was a rye punch that I wanted to serve at Thanksgiving). The phone call didn't allow for any chit chat and my request was politely declined. For those that did provide the recipes, I made sure to write back and let them know how it went. I also re-iterate my appreciation and intention to patronize their establishments in the future.

                                                                                                  1. This topic got me thinking about a spicy tomato broth that's served with mussels at a local French restaurant. I just sent them an e-mail full of compliments, assurances that I wouldn't share or publish it, and asking for any info on the recipe they'd be willing to share. We'll see how it goes.

                                                                                                    1. I've asked for numerous restaurant recipes and have had about 80% success.

                                                                                                      One time I emailed a hotel in Vegas asking for a recipe. I wasn't sure who to email, so I sent my request to both hotel administration and the restaurant itself. The administration staff politely declined saying they don't share recipes. I felt a little bad until the chef (who answered the email I sent the restaurant) emailed me the next day with the recipe.



                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        my question is, did you try to make the dish following the recipe? if so, did it turn out the way you wanted?

                                                                                                        1. re: Monica

                                                                                                          RE: the one I requested from the restaurant in Vegas? Yes, I tried it and it came out beautifully.

                                                                                                          That hasn't always been the case though. Some of the recipes you get are just photocopies of what they use in the kitchen and seem leave out a lot of steps and/or call for huge quantities. Those tend to be harder to attempt at home with any great success because you either have to call the restaurant back with 5000 questions (which I've actually done, although not when requesting a recipe for personal use) or just kind of feel your way through it. For instance, sometimes a restaurant recipe will serve 100 but call for a mere tablespoon of something, soy sauce or peanut butter, for instance. By the time you scale that down for home use, that ingredient can be diluted down to a mere trace. Still, you get A LOT closer to the dish you're replicating than having no recipe, but you don't always feel like you're duplicating the dish exactly. What I often do for those super huge recipes is consider those to be party dishes (and scale it down to serve, say, 20 or 25). Or, if you're lucky, it's something that you can scale down to serve 20 or 25 and freeze what you don't use right away. That way you can keep that special ingredient from being diluted into oblivion.


                                                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          I love that TDQ, lucky you...............

                                                                                                          I had a lunch with a girlfriend a hundred years ago on 'the boulevard', so a cute swanky place. I knew the chef and his wife (the pastry chef) because I'd done work for them a few times each. anyway, eating there, chef came over and asked how I liked lunch. it was terrific I said, just as I'd thought it would be, him being the chef and all. he asked me how much time I had, was in between 'things' I was doing so I had about an hour. he asked me back to the kitchen and said, here, you make it.
                                                                                                          loved that....................those times are few and far however

                                                                                                          my husband goes to the races every year in Dallas with his buddies. he fell in love years ago with a certain resto's chicken fried steak. I mean he said it was the best he'd ever had. think the place is actually a small chain. anyway, to please him, I called the resto and got the manager. he was so very kind and kept going to the kitchen to get specific ingreds from the cooks back there.
                                                                                                          all he could come up with reading straight from a sealed 25 lb package that the dredge was made from was 'various herbs and seasoning ingredients that included salt and pepper.' oy............ so kind of him though, he really did try hard for me.

                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                            Oh, bummer about the CFS! So nice of him to try, though.


                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                              Obviously something commercial I'd say, try to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes!

                                                                                                              1. re: coll


                                                                                                                Not a recipe story, but a CFS story: I had a friend who found a chicken fried steak at a restaurant while traveling at out of town. She was so thrilled and excited (saying it was just like at home, etc.), that the staff packed up an extra portion of it and sent it home on the plane with her to take to her husband.

                                                                                                                It was also a chain deal.


                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I used to sell Tyson Chicken Fried Steak (and yes it was beef, not chicken). It was more popular than I expected around here. My husband liked it so much I bought a case of 20...which lasted him a year or more! I see on this link they sell small packages in local groceries.


                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                      although it is really simple to make from scratch at home, despite the mess, to whom did you sell it?

                                                                                                                      <<"It was more popular than I expected around here.">>
                                                                                                                      we are starving for anything like this, as you and your husband know. back in the '70's diners used to make country style steak and served it straight from the steam table. even that is now long gone. sigh :-(

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                        I only sold it to chefs for their employee dinners (because it only cost about $1 each wholesale) and some senior nutrition centers. The area I worked didn't have as much call for it as upIsland. I checked around here on that website out of curiosity, and apparently it is available in normal amounts at Shop Rite and Walmart if you want to do-it-yourself. They were very tender, which is of utmost importance to my husband.

                                                                                                                  2. re: coll

                                                                                                                    SH I can't come close to.
                                                                                                                    I thought I was doing well by just calling the Cotton Patch

                                                                                                              2. Well, this thread has given me courage to ask a restaurant for 2 recipes.
                                                                                                                I'm not getting my hopes up, but this restaurant is where we vacation every year, a few hours away, so I can't just pop in whenever I want to eat these wonderful things.

                                                                                                                1. I think it also depends upon how one asks for the recipe. I grew up in Chicago and my Grandmother would take my siblings and I to Marshall Field's in downtown Chicago for shopping and lunch. They had the best sandwich that was sort of a club sandwich with a fantastic dressing.

                                                                                                                  Several years ago my siblings and I were reminiscing about those stunning sandwiches and my Brother sent them an e-mail requesting the recipe. He received an e-mail response telling him that was ages ago and they did not have the recipe.

                                                                                                                  I sent them a handwritten request for the recipe and included the details of how our Grandmother took us there frequently and it was the best sandwich we had ever had.

                                                                                                                  They responded with not only the original recipe but every detail of how it should be presented to the customer, how tall the sandwich should be, what condiments should be served and every other possible detail.

                                                                                                                  So in this case it was more about how you ask rather than just asking.

                                                                                                                  19 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                      " Hi Ross. I'm really impressed with what you've done to make the car go faster than any other F1 car out there. Would you mind telling me your secrets?"
                                                                                                                      I think it's rude to ask people who have through their hard work have developed any successful product for their formula/recipe/etc. Just plain rude.
                                                                                                                      I'll bet a million bucks if some one here has a product which is a 'hit' with customers is asked if some one else can have the plans/formula no one would hand it over. Make that two million.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                        What on earth does that have to do with someone asking for a recipe that they wish to recreate at home?


                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                          Like everything. The bottom line is the customer liked what they were eating so much they decided to ask the chef for the recipe. It's absolutely no different in principle than asking any one to share the successful results of their dish/design/formula etc. It's the PRINCIPLE that counts!
                                                                                                                          For some of us.
                                                                                                                          Why do thousands of people write cook books based on their own recipes? They don't write them to give the information away. That's a fact.
                                                                                                                          "Hey Thomas. I really like to eat at your restaurant/s. Would you mind giving me your recipe for that delicious sauce for free?" Or do I have to pay to buy your cook book?" Ya right!

                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                            Hokay. You clearly have much stronger feelings about the topic than I do.

                                                                                                                            Have a wonderful day :-D

                                                                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                              Puffin3, more than thousands of people subscribe to recipe sharing sites though.
                                                                                                                              Sites like allrecipes and food.com give no financial compensation for your recipes. You put them "out there" to share with other members and many of those recipes are ones that people have formulated on their own, or old family 'secret' recipes that they want to save and share.
                                                                                                                              food.com has over 475,000 recipes and tens of thousands of subscribers.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                            So I guess based upon your response that you have never asked anyone for advice? Asking for advice would be requesting they share something they know but you do not know.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                              I have only developed a few recipes of my own, but I'm happy to share them with anyone who shows enough interest to ask.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                I'm just dying for your recipe for huitlacoche, hab aioli, and corned beef on wry.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                  Folks, this thread is getting testy and unfriendly, as threads often do when they get into judging whether someone's behavior is or isn't rude, and we've removed a few replies. Please, everyone, take a deep breath before posting further and try to keep the focus on the issue and not on your fellow posters. Thanks.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                I will say, I was really tentative the first time I contacted a restaurant and asked if they'd share their recipe. They were so flattered and willing to share, that I realized it isn't always a big deal to them. I have since asked for many recipes and usually get the similar response. I have never been asked not to share or publish the recipe, although I've always felt I shouldn't do so.


                                                                                                                              3. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                I see your point and would agree with you, except that in my experience, restaurants give out recipes all the time. I've asked for dozens of recipes and only been turned down twice, once by the administration of the Vegas hotel as I previously described and once (well, actually, I've asked them a couple times a couple of different ways and been told no each time) by a restaurant in Duluth. MN (where I vacation with my family once or twice a year) who just won't give this particular recipe out, period. In the case of the latter, I just sweetly ask my server every time I visit what's in the dish or how it's prepared and gradually I've gotten a fuller and fuller picture of the dish to the point where I've been able to replicate the dish to my satisfaction at home.


                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                  So I guess 'sweet talking' the wait staff will finally get you what the chef/owners don't want you to have b/c in their opinion the information belongs to them. AKA it's their private property. Got it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                    Actually, I ask this question whenever I eat out if it's not a classic dish I'm familiar with. What's in it and how is it prepared? I like to know what I'm eating and as a consumer it's my right to ask and expect a basic response to this question.

                                                                                                                                    Since this is a dish I only eat about once a year, I've asked this same question multiple times. At first because I just couldn't remember what they told me the time before. But, then yes, over time I realized I got slightly different answers each time and started taking note.

                                                                                                                                    If it's such a valuable trade secret and they want to control the information more tightly such that the servers answer the question consistently, the restaurant should train their servers better. So, yeah, I'm going to keep asking. It's my right as a consumer.

                                                                                                                                    Furthermore I'm not harming anyone --except my poor family who has to eat whatever I prepare for dinner no matter how disastrous-- by attempting to recreate this dish in my kitchen based on the basic information my server gives me once a year.

                                                                                                                                    On the other hand, the Pioneer Woman has recreated the recipe and published it on her website.


                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                      I'll agree to disagree. In my restaurant if some one asked me for a recipe I suggested they go to the library and look it up.
                                                                                                                                      Ya it's your "right" to ask what's in the dish you ordered and it's my "right" to tell you to...................you fill in the blanks. If you don't 'like' it you know what you can do.
                                                                                                                                      "Excuse me Colonel. I really enjoyed the fried chicken. It's my "right" to ask you what the ingredients are right? Would you mind writing them down. My memory isn't that good?"
                                                                                                                                      "Hi there Theresa. I love that ketchup! You you mind being a 'dear' and writing down the recipe for me? After all, I did by a bottle so it's my "right" to ask you what's in it right?". Ya right.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                        Well, you're putting (rude) words in my mouth and putting up a straw man argument that doesn't accurately reflect how this goes.

                                                                                                                                        The question to my server about what's in the dish and how is it prepared is not intertwined with the recipe request. I don't ask anybody to write anything down and I don't try to trick someone into giving me information that might get them in trouble.

                                                                                                                                        The conversation with my server goes more like this "Could you please describe the wild rice burger and how it's prepared?" Or more simply sometimes, "How is the wild rice burger prepared?" It's a pretty open ended question. And then the server tells me whatever he or she has been trained to tell me. I don't pester him or her for the detailed ingredients, but for instance, I do want to know if it's deep fried. If the response is that "it's fried" I might ask if they mean breaded and deep fried or pan fried. If there's something I can't eat because of dietary restrictions (for awhile I couldn't eat wheat) I might additionally ask directly if there's wheat in it. All of that is entirely appropriate to ask as a diner. And it's well within my rights to ask every time I go, especially if I only go once a year or every couple of years. And yes, I ask nicely and pay attention to --and remember-- what my server says. Being nice and paying attention are wrong?

                                                                                                                                        And yes, once I went home after having this dish once or twice, called the restaurant at what I thought was a good hour and explained how much I enjoyed the dish, that I lived far away and don't get to their restaurant often, and would they please share the recipe with me and the response was no, they don't share that recipe. But, I later (maybe six months later) realized that maybe I caught the person on the phone at a bad time or spoke to the wrong person, so I emailed the restaurant for the recipe and was told no. About five years later when I heard there had been some changes at the restaurant, I wondered if their policy had changed, I emailed them again and asked for the recipe saying I wondered if their policy had changed and was told no, they don't share the recipe. I might call in five years and ask again. People change, management changes, policy changes. etc. I just don't think it's that evil.


                                                                                                                                2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                  The St. Paul MN newspaper actually has a weekly column where people write the columnist and ask her to ask a restaurant for a particular recipe. The restaurants often give them to her to publish in the paper. Bon Appetit Magazine has a similar column. It's just not that uncommon or, apparently, see as rude.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                    Good point, TDQ. And I will add that if someone stole a recipe that would be one thing and wrong, but if someone were to politely request a recipe and the restaurant is happy to provide it that is certainly something else.Many restaurants consider it "good will" to provide recipes.

                                                                                                                              4. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                aw, i love this story! Good for you.

                                                                                                                              5. The last time I asked about a restaurant recipe the owner of the place said, "Sure I'll tell you because it's such a pain in the ass to make that you'll come back here for us to cook it for you!" He went on to say they grated daikon, cooked it with some white wine, put it in a pan & let set in the fridge, then sliced and fried.
                                                                                                                                "Oh, that's just how we make our grits cakes!" He seemed pretty disappointed that we would do a multi-step prep. Here's a link to the grit cake recipe we like best. Chef Brigtsen serves it with rabbit tenderloin, but it's almost as good with a chicken tender.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: AreBe

                                                                                                                                  "Hi Gordon. We really enjoyed the sauce served with the halibut. It was so good we were wondering if you'd give us the recipe?".
                                                                                                                                  Don't you get the message? If the restaurant doesn't want to give you the recipe why are you continuing to ask for it years later? Why are you so obsessed that you will try again in another five years?
                                                                                                                                  The hilarious part is their wonderful recipe is probably in the Joy of Cooking.

                                                                                                                                2. i've asked for a recipe from restaurants three times, and once from a caterer for a business luncheon.

                                                                                                                                  one restaurant (clyde's -- apple cider shallot vinaigrette) i got the recipe,

                                                                                                                                  from the caterer i got the recipe for almond macaroons (was a martha stewart recipe)

                                                                                                                                  and from another restaurant (union street public house in old town) i did not get the recipe for their sweet and sour cole slaw.

                                                                                                                                  finally, when michel richard did the buffet at the national gallery of art café, they had pre-printed cards of the recipes for the asking. many of those recipes were in the cookbook he was selling at the time. i esp. wanted the delicious ratatouille recipe (his mom's recipe, the secret -- cook elements separately, to maintain best texture).

                                                                                                                                  i always enjoyed reading the "recipe requests" section in gourmet magazine. does bon appétit do that now? i think southern living may still do it.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                    Yes, Bon Appetit calls the recipe request section RSVP, I think.


                                                                                                                                  2. I've never asked for a recipe from a restaurant

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                      Either have I.
                                                                                                                                      As Augustus M'Crae said: "I can't won't tolerate rude behavior in a man".

                                                                                                                                    2. I think it depends on how you ask the question. I wouldn't recommend asking for the recipe over the phone if you have the chance to ask at a restaurant. It's just awkward and suspicious. You may come off as competition, trying to steal their recipe. I would definitely ask for the recipe when I'm enjoying the meal at the restaurant. This way you are also complimenting the chef. They are more inclined to share when they receive compliments.

                                                                                                                                      However, since you won't be coming back to the restaurant, it doesn't hurt to ask by phone. Just remember to start off with compliments. Everybody loves compliments.

                                                                                                                                      1. It probably depends on the recipe. If it is a restaurant's specialty, they probably won't give it out. But if it's fairly common, they might not mind. Can't hurt to ask.

                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                                          Many prominent restaurants have cookbooks available. For the most part, home cooks aren't prepared to replicate restaurant dishes. They're fun to read, though.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                            Aside from Keller and Achatz, I find restaurant/big name chef's books are accessible to the home cook.

                                                                                                                                            I have to believe that the author wants to sell books and maybe make a profit, so why would they sabotage themselves by trying to sell industrial and overly complicated cookbooks?

                                                                                                                                            Aside from a very talented blogger who cooked her way through the aforementioned chefs' books, who wants to spend THAT much energy and time on meal?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                              It's not a matter of overly complicated but there are steps that a home cook trying to prepare a midweek dinner are unlikely to take. Gordon Ramsay had an episode of his UK Kitchen Nightmares show many years ago where he visited a fairly inexperienced cook who ran a modest restaurant. The cook boasted of owning all of Ramsay's books and trying to prepare dishes from them for his guests. Ramsay was really surprised because for a one-person operation it would literally take hours to prepare the dishes from scratch and told the guy to do things that were simple and not try to emulate something that took a team to prepare at his restaurant or a home cook to occupy an afternoon.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                That's my point- it's a recipe for not selling books!
                                                                                                                                                Talented chefs who write books many times gear it toward the home cook.

                                                                                                                                        2. As others have said, it can't hurt to ask. As for the recipes that restaurants have agreed to share, be aware that they may or may not be accurate. Both professionals and home cooks can and do share slightly-skewed recipes rather than those they actually use. Different measurements, omit a secret ingredient, and the like. If they don't want to give away their recipe (as is their right) but don't want to seem rude or get into a big to-do about it, they'll share a bastardized version. Difficult as it is to scale down an institutional-sized recipe, that one's more likely to be complete and accurate than a home version shared by a restaurant. Even if no deception were intended, it's possible that the restaurant guesstimated the amounts and instructions for a smaller version of something they only ever make in mass quantities.

                                                                                                                                          1. I've been successful getting recipes almost every time I've asked. Most have been exactly bang on as I remember them from the restaurant. I've only been flat denied once. I don't have any problem asking, but I never really expect that they will provide the recipe.

                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                              Just curious. Why do you "never really expect that they will provide the recipe"? Specifically that is.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                I can see where a restaurant could consider a recipe to be intellectual property. So I am always surprised when they so readily provide recipes. It's a nice surprise, though ;)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                                  I am not surprised that some restaurants provide recipes. It provides good will. Also, most people do not simply go to a restaurant just to have the chicken soup, for example. They go because they want to be waited on, so they do not have to do the dishes, so they can enjoy other items on the menu, because they do not have the time to cook that day, because they want to relax and let everyone else do the work, etc.

                                                                                                                                            2. UPDATE: I called and they happily gave me the list of ingredients. He was FOTH staff of some sort, but found the ingredient list in the kitchen. Offered to try to get the recipe if I wanted to call back. I said, "No thank you. You've been wonderful. Figuring out how to make it will be part of the fun!"

                                                                                                                                              I assured him that when we are in that area in the future, they will get our repeat business and they would get referrals from us to any friends or family that are in their area. I think they realize that this kind of customer service will only INCREASE their business.

                                                                                                                                              Thanks 'hounds!

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: gardencook

                                                                                                                                                  I always say it never hurts to ask, worst they can say is 'no' and if you don't ask, then you don't get. (pardon my syntax, I've been living the rural life lately)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                    hill, just wanted to thank you for that photo. Makes me smile every time i see it.

                                                                                                                                                2. Ask in person only AFTER you've become a customer. Most chefs will be flattered & be more than happy to oblige. Leave a big tip too.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I hosted a football party on Thursday night and one of the guests brought a fantastic jalapeno and cheese corn bread. They obtained the recipe from a restaurant and did not have an issue with asking for it because it is no longer an item on their menu.