Recipe Ownership (and Zucchini Fritters) by Chef Seth MacKenzie (aka Culinary Anarchy)

This happened one day when I showed up at work and I found two of the biggest zucchini I’ve ever seen waiting on my on my counter with a note asking me to make something special. This is before I found out about the Nondisclosure agreement. I sold out of the first batch, which was awesome, so it’s no wonder they wanted the recipe…but since they had to be dicks about it, I’m just going to give it to you for free (see below for full recipe).

They're so big...
They’re so big…

Let me explain the situation…

Early Afternoon…

Once again this is biting me in the ass and once again, I might lose my job over the situation. The issue I speak of is the ownership of recipes in the Kitchen.

Sad fact but I’ve had a lot of ideas that I created or adapted for a special and then it becomes popular and the owner wants the recipe so that he can put it on the menu and continue to profit from the item without giving me any credit or compensation.

This very situation is one of the reasons I started publishing things on this site for free. One dumbass threatened to sue me and I told him that I would swear on the bible that I was too high when I cooked the dish to remember how I made it.

It puts me in a bind since the whole reason I deal with the bullshit in the industry is so that from time to time, I have the freedom to really cook some amazing food. Then I watch my creation get exploited and capitalized on. It only makes me want to run the menu instead of running the risk of getting screwed.

Every place I go I have to hold myself back. Do you have any idea how fucking frustrating that is? To know what the hell I could be putting out but instead I have to put up with the fact that people who really call the shots know way less about food than I do, and what they do know is bullshit.

Why in the name of fuck do you insist we put parsley on everything????

On that note, unless you have papers from Hyde Park, 20+ years of service or can run my ass in the kitchen- when it comes to food, cooking or anything related, please shut the fuck up. I assure you that I know way more than you do.

I’ve never made great money working as a Chef but I’ve made a ton of money for other people in the industry.

I used to play guitar and even made money at it, so let’s look at it in those terms. If I get hired as part of a backing band, my job isn’t to write new music, it’s to play exactly what I’m supposed to play. Same as if I’m hired to record pre-written music. It’s a flat rate, just like cooking off the menu at any restaurant.

Yet, when I get hired to write new music, I get credit on the album as well as royalties for my contribution. The more the album sells, the more I make as well as having my name on the album. So when I create a new dish, why doesn’t this happen?

Other than the threat of getting fired, what else do they have over me? It’s either get fired or just give up and give in; just write the recipe down. Yes, I could give them a bullshit variation since it’s not like what I’m doing is rocket science, but I am a man of principles and they are fucking with the food that I love.

I know a lot of you Chefs are reading this saying yup “My X is still on the menu at Y” and it’s bullshit. It’s another example of the lack of respect that we get in the industry from the owners and the public.

This, plus the hours and shitty pay, are why a lot of great chefs I know are getting out of the game and it’s leaving people like me to deal with the posers (thanks assholes, enjoy your weekends and vacation pay) who want to be called a Chef but have never mopped a floor. No fucking wonder I smoke as much grass as I can get my hands on!

So yeah, I might be getting fired today.

Later that night…..

That was supposed to be the end, but I went to work before I published and low and fucking behold, they finally have my paperwork ready after two weeks and 74 hours in the kitchen. Guess what was in the employee packet I was supposed to sign?

If you guessed a pony, you’re an idiot. It was a Non Disclosure Agreement that more or less said in legal speak that by signing, I would be giving up any and all rights to anything I did in the kitchen.

Fuck no I didn’t sign the thing! I went downstairs kind of hoping that they would have to let me go for refusing to sign it. The rebuttal was “Well than you can’t have any input in the new fall menu.” – as if that would somehow make me change my mind. It’s a one man kitchen. I’m in it 5 nights a week and the owners don’t know a damn thing about food. This means even if I took some sort of weird Buddhist vow to never run another kitchen (I kind of did) I would still be the Chef by default.
It’s one thing to ask me to write down a recipe but it’s a whole other ball game when you think for a second that I’m going to outright sign away my rights to anything I create and honestly, it’s fucking insulting.

All that being said, I did promise you a FREE recipe. Here goes Zucchini Fritters…

Make yours better!
Make yours better!

The thing with this is that it’s real simple. It’s a base (the zucchini) a binder (the eggs) and flour to help it stay together, plus seasonings. The key is the consistency. You’re looking for something thicker than pancake batter but not as thick as cookie dough.

Mise En Place

  • Knife and board
  • Grater
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Large pot half filled with vegetable oil
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Slotted spoon

Ingredients

  • One big Zucchini
  • 2 Eggs
  • Flour
  • Half red onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Panko style bread crumbs (optional but a nice touch)

Method of Preparation

  • Grate the Zucchini and let drain in the strainer. Try to squeeze as much water out of it as possible (it’s a lot more than you think)
  • Mince the garlic and onion and add it to the mixing bowl with the zucchini.
  • Heat the oil to about 350 degrees
  • Add the eggs and mix well
  • Add the flour until it starts to come together. It’s impossible to give a precise measurement due to the varying amounts of liquid in the zucchini as well as how big the eggs are. Keep it a bit loose to start.
  • Add the seasonings and mix well
  • Take a spoon and scoop out a chunk and either coat it with Panko or drop it into the oil. Let it do it’s thing for about a minute or two- you know it’s done when it floats.
  • Pull it out with the slotted spoon and let it set for a minute
  • Taste it and adjust the batter. Is it great or is it just good? Make it fucking great!!!!!
  • Fry up the rest of the batter and share them (and this site) with friends 🙂

Notes

  • You can more or less do the same thing with squash or eggplant or any other vegetable so please get creative.
  • The key thing with this is to add a little flour and mix, add more and mix, until it comes together. You don’t want to dump a ton of flour in since you won’t be able to taste the zucchini and at the same time, you need enough to form the batter. As in life, balance is key.
  • Same goes for the seasonings. There are a lot of things that can go well with this and really help make this pop but you don’t want to overpower the flavor of the Zucchini, you want to keep that the focal point.

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