Who Owns a Dish? A Discussion with Chef Stuart Lane of Spinasse

Who Owns a Dish? A Discussion with Chef Stuart Lane of Spinasse

On an episode of Chef’s Table, Netflix’s docuseries that follows prominent chefs, Grant Achatz recalls a discussion he had with chef Thomas Keller while he was a young cook at The French Laundry. Achatz had created a cantaloupe and caviar gelee dish for the restaurant’s tasting menu and chef Keller liked it and wanted to add it to the menu.

Before incorporating the dish into the menu Keller asked Achatz a question: “If this dish goes on the menu it becomes a French Laundry dish; are you okay with that?” Achatz said yes, as any young cook would, proud of creating something that his mentor deemed worthy enough of serving in his restaurant. The dish was added to The French Laundry’s tasting menu.

Every single restaurant dish starts as an idea from an executive chef or a line cook, who then works on creating that dish. In most kitchens, dishes don’t reach the menu until line cooks, sous chefs, or the executive chef taste the dish and add their opinions. It’s like editing a rough draft of an article. After everyone weighs in, the original chef or line cook that came up with dish makes changes based on the feedback and the process repeats itself. Once the dish is approved by all parties it’s added to the menu or run as a special for the night. That dish is the final draft, the one that gets published and added to the menu.

Except, in writing, finished articles usually include the name of the writer somewhere on the page. On menus, dishes are not credited to the cook who may have originally came up with the idea — instead they’re all lumped under the executive chef’s name. So, who really owns a dish? And in the case of signature dishes that become an important part of a tasting menu (a la Grant Achatz at The French Laundry) who can claim ownership?

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James Beard Awards 2012: Inside Michael Murphy’s Annual Rosé Bowl

We’re eagerly anticipating the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards on Monday, May 7, 2012. To get the party started, Michael Murphy did just that. Once again, OpenTable had the great pleasure of sponsoring Mr. Murphy’s Annual Rosé Bowl at Jonathan Waxman’s Barbuto restaurant in Manhattan. A fete for San Francisco’s nominees, attendees included many bold-faced Bay Area names, including Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Anna Weinberg (Marlowe), Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Jeremiah Tower (Chez Panisse), Gary Danko, as well as Dana Cowin and a surprise visit from Katie Couric, along with many, many more of our favorite folks in food. You can see our exclusive slide show below!

Top 100 American Fare Restaurants Revealed: 2011 Diners’ Choice Award Winners

Chef Thomas Keller, seen here with Chef Jonathan Waxman, won two awards for The French Laundry and Per Se.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a favorite national holiday of America’s foodies, we are pleased to announce the 2011 Diners’ Choice Awards for the Top 100 restaurants in the United States that specialize in American food. The list of winners is derived from more than 10 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The honorees, which include Anita Lo’s Annisa in New York, FIG in South Carolina, and Michael Symon’s Lola in Ohio, represent 30 states — and virtually every region of the country, including Hawaii. The South swept the awards, earning 20 spots on the list, with North Carolina and South Carolina each boasting six winning restaurants. The Northeast took 16 places among the honorees, with 11 in New York alone. Ohio and Illinois, with five nods apiece, helped the Great Lakes region earn an impressive 15 wins; meanwhile, the Lone Star State took 10 spots, giving the Southwest a total of 13 awards. States also represented on the list of winners include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon and Utah, among others.

View the entire list here — and let us know if your favorites are among the winners!


Special Spotlight: 30% Off KCET UNCORKED! at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon on 6/12

Rub elbows with one of the world's most important chefs on Sunday at KCET UNCORKED!

We’ve got another terrific round of Spotlight offers up today, including one that is a must for all LA-area foodies!  Exclusive to OpenTable Spotlight, you can purchase a $250 ticket to KCET UNCORKED! at Bouchon Bistro for just $175. Held on Sunday, June 12, award-winning Chef Thomas Keller (in the flesh!) will partner with KCET for a memorable gastronomic feast at his acclaimed restaurant Bouchon in Beverly Hills. Interact (No, really!) with Chef Keller and celebrate the launch of the newly branded KCET, the largest independent public television station in the country.

Purchase tickets ASAP while supplies last!

And check out our other Spotlight offers around the nation today…

* Atlanta: $15 for $30 of bold Mexican fare at Rio Nuevo Mexican Cantina

* Boston: $25 for $50 of artistic Japanese cuisine at Oishii

* Chicago: $20 for $40 of American fare at The Bank Restaurant & Bar

* Denver: $25 for $50 of contemporary Italian cuisine at Toscanini

* Philadelphia: $25 for $50 of elegant steakhouse fare at The Prime Rib

* Washington, D.C.: $20 for $40 of colorful American cuisine at Peacock Cafe