Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Is Immitation Flattery? Controversy At Restaurant Interlude

This is an old post from my other blog More Thanh Words which I have decided to group here as it is about food.

Recently, chef Robin Wickens of high profile restaurant Interlude in Melbourne has been involved in a lot of controversy. He has been accused of copying dishes from other high profile restaurants Alinea and WD-50 in the US.

I think from the pictures you can clearly see that he has copied the other restaurant's dishes. The question is, was it merely an oversight and he naively forgot to credit them. Or, did he think he could get away with it, and get credit for himself. I tend to be cynical and think that he was trying to get credit for it. He did win young chef of the year from The Age Good Food Guide and I'm sure these innovative dishes helped in achieving that.

What Wickens has done is ethically wrong, but not legally wrong. You cannot copyright a food dish, which is fair enough, otherwise you might only be able to eat a Pepper Steak at one restaurant in the world. I mean we at home copy dishes all the time when we follow a recipe from a book. But the difference here is that Wickens is making money off someone else's idea and not crediting it. I think the least you can do is to credit the other chef, its just a matter of principal. Imagine the injustice if the other chef was actually accused of copying Wickens dishes if a diner went to Wickens restaurant first. I think a chef should be inspired by a dish and at alter them to give it a different feel, infuse it with his own special touches. That should be how a good chef operates, not steal someone else's idea and try to pass it as their own.

I'm sure Wickens isn't the only chef that is copying dishes from other restaurants. As with anything in the commercial world, if it sells, others will try to copy it. Not crediting the original inventors means that firstly there isn't a comparison. Secondly most people will tend to want to try the original item rather than the imitated version. If I knew two restaurants had the same dish, I would want to try the place that invented it.

No comments:

Post a Comment