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Did you really “invent” a cooking technique?

Reader letter: I am not a professional chef or really that interested in recipes.  I will say, on principal though, as an American who has lived in numerous locations worldwide, that your “patented cooking method” has been performed by indigenous and local peoples for centuries.  The idea that YOU came up with it and would reap profits from having patented it is offensive, and amounts to the same thing as stealing weaving patterns or traditional herbs for pharmaceuticals.  You ought to at least acknowledge the tradition that you’re ripping off.

Phillip M., Cairo, Egypt

Hi Phillip,

Thanks for your concerns. I would be most grateful for any written and published recipes you might come across that utilize the cooking method I patented as I was not able to find a single one in the course of my extensive research (nor could the patent office). Some of the key elements that define my patent include: 1) using the cast iron lidded vessel, 2) the enclosed oven at 450 F degrees, 3) the short cooking time, 4) the lack of added liquid.

Morrocan Tagine
Moroccan Tagine

I, too, have traveled extensively and lived on several continents, including Central and South America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. While I’ve seen lots of one-pot cooking techniques and tasted lots of delicious meals, I’ve personally not seen one that incorporates ALL of these elements. One reason might be the difference between cooking over an open flame vs. controlling the temperature inside an oven hot enough to bake bread? The method is substantially different from clay pot cooking, Moroccan tagine, or slow-cooking styles of food prep.

Clay pot
Clay pot

While I do sell a cookbook for less than $20 (of which I receive pennies for each copy sold), I freely give away the technique and recipes in the more than 100 FREE cooking demonstrations I perform in public annually, as well as on the web, on the radio, in newspapers and magazines, and on tv.

While I would like to be able to pay my mortgage and feed my kids, you are mistaken if you believe that I am all about profiting off of the work of others. My passion is simply to offer a way for more people to eat real, healthy foods as part of their busy lifestyles and move away from packaged “fake” foods.

Everything we do in life is built on all those who came before us, so while I am not a professionally-trained chef either, I freely acknowledge the culinary traditions that influence me. I’m always glad to meet another world traveler who enjoys good food! Thank for writing!

Happy cooking!

*Addendum: While this is an actual letter I recently received from a reader, when I tried to reply directly to him the email bounced back. I hope he finds his answer here.

Posted in: Recipes, Misc.

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