In the Spring 2012 issue of Lucky Peach Magazine Dave Chang, Sat Baines, Claude Bosi and Daniel Patterson scathingly discuss chefs that steal from other chefs. They’re pretty harsh about the whole thing. What interested me was that they were not talking about stealing a recipe. They were talking about stealing concepts and techniques; they were talking about stealing something much more abstract than a list of ingredients, a set of instructions or a picture.
This reminded me of my own academic background where one credits every idea to as many sources as possible. You never have your own unique thought in academia. Or at least, you don’t have one without propping it up with a whole bunch of other people’s thoughts first.
And then there’s food blogging. We all are familiar with the discussion about adapting recipes: If you change three ingredients, you’re fine, right? If you re-write the instructions and headnote, all’s good, right? Here’s a great post by Dianne Jacob warning of the dangers we could face for adaptation. So to be safe (and maybe even ethical) we need to go beyond just adapting a bit. We need to give proper credit while also being as original as possible.
But how much credit do you give? And to whom? Do we go the path of the academic and credit for every thought? Do we take the Lucky Peach discussion to heart and credit for concepts and techniques?
I fear that this would yield some pretty dry reading (have you read any academic journals lately???). But also, I wonder if it flies in the face of what food blogging is all about, of how food blogging started out. It really was a place for home cooks to share recipes that they’d tried in their kitchens. It wasn’t academia. It wasn’t even a profession.
What are your thoughts? Should we stop adapting? Do we start crediting more to cover our butts and to be ethical? Or is this overkill?
And a bonus question: Why all the hubbub about food bloggers adapting recipes? Do you think it’s related to the fact that food bloggers are making money now?