The place is agog at the effrontery of Vigneron, since they believe he has brazenly ripped off one of chef Wylie Dufresne’s best-known dishes. By the looks of a feature in the current issue of Wired, Vigneron has created a showpiece dish of a “cyber egg,” the yolk of which is made of carrot-cardamom purée, surrounded by a white of hardened coconut milk. Very interesting, given that almost the exact same dish (minus a garnish of foam and carrot) has been served often at wd-50, is featured on the restaurant’s website, and, we are told by members of the staff, has been eaten by Vigneron at least twice. “It’s one thing to be inspired by a dish and to change the flavors to make it your own,” says line cook John Bignelli. “But to just steal everything? How can you do that?” Dufresne, staying above the fray, declined to comment.
— Did Marcel From ‘Top Chef’ Really Just Rip Off Wylie Dufresne? Grub Street, New York Magazine, 15 May 2007
You get a lot of commentary.
After quoting another chef about how everybody copies from everybody else:
I think he brings up an interesting issue -- refinement versus invention. Of course, though, the brouhaha he refers to treads close to invention. Ferràn Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, and Wylie Dufresne come very close to inventing with food. On the other hand, what they're doing is so creative that they don't need lots of protection, and don't seek it. If you make foam, we know who you're stealing from. Ditto for putting a laser on a vanilla bean or a cyber-egg. And if one doesn't want people to steal one's recipes, one doesn't publish a cookbook, after all.
— Marco Pierre White on Intellectual Property, mordaxus, Emergent Chaos, 22 May 2007
Well, maybe. But couldn't you make the same argument about publishing a novel? Novelists also copy ideas from everyone else, but when they copy exactly, word for word, without acknowledgment, it's called plagiarism.
Is intellectual property not really property if it's a recipe? And if so, why exactly do we have software intellectual property, whether trade secret, copyrighted, or patented, an algorithm being nothing but a recipe, after all?