FromScratchSF Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 6:28pm
post #1 of

Quick facts:

 

I belong to a delivery collective of professional chefs.  I regularly offer cake and other desserts that people order online.  There is a service that takes care of the online marketplace aspect as well as delivery, all I have to do is post a "meal" and drop it off at the delivery hub - they take care of the rest.  I am an independent contractor with this service.

 

I just got an email from the owners that starting next week they want to give clients the nutritional information of every meal  So, along with posting something for sale I have to input my ingredients so the system can estimate the nutritional information.  I see this as a great idea in concept and very easy for savory chefs to do, I mean, it would be very easy to add "steak, 6oz".  But I have much greater concerns...  if I want to post, say, a piece of cake, I will have to input my entire recipe.  I am having major problems with that.  I mean, that's my business.  Every one of my recipes are MINE and I have big plans with them.  I am not OK with adding them into a database of a 3rd party.  Or should I be?

 

I have emailed them and told them they need to make an exception for me and am still waiting to hear what they say, but what would you do?  I also have huge reservations about some random calorie calculator - I think they are inaccurate.

 

Thoughts?

28 replies
jennicake Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 6:43pm
post #2 of

If they are ok with you providing the nutritional information separately (calculated by you), there is a really good nutritional calculator available on sparkrecipes.com.  You input all your ingredients and quantities and come out with a total (broken down by serving if you choose).  If you dont save your recipe after, it will never be saved to a database.

 

I've used it quite a bit for non-cake stuff and found it to be pretty accurate.

FromScratchSF Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 6:46pm
post #3 of

That's not an option.  That hasn't been coded into their website, only a dropdown menu to add ingredients and quantities for it to calculate for you.  

jason_kraft Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 6:52pm
post #4 of

AWhat does your contract with the delivery service say in terms of what the service can do with the components of your recipe and whether or not the recipe is even stored after the nutritional info is calculated?

If you aren't comfortable with the terms, you could look at other third-party tools (such as nutritiondata.com) and provide your own nutritional info instead of having them calculate it. This also has the advantage of division of labor in that you would be submitting an anonymous recipe to a third-party tool (which probably gets thousands of submissions daily) that is completely separate from the delivery service. Of course you would have to work with them to provide this option as an alternative to the built-in calculator.

Yet another alternative is to have the delivery service provide a level of abstraction by using generic recipes for cake components to estimate nutritional info. For example, instead of submitting your own recipe you could enter "scratch vanilla cake, X grams" and "scratch chocolate frosting, X grams" (once those components are built in the system) with the assumption that the nutritional info won't change too much with different recipes.

FromScratchSF Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 7:08pm
post #5 of

I have no contract with them, it's an at-will marketplace with no written agreement.  I post when I want, or not post if I don't want to.

 

I have asked if I can just calculate it on my own and give them the number, still waiting to hear.  As of right now that is not an option on the website, they only have a drop-down to add ingredients and quantities in ounces.  

jennicake Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 7:10pm
post #6 of

I hope that other chefs have the same concern as you and that it prompts the owners to make some sort of change!

jason_kraft Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 7:11pm
post #7 of

A

Original message sent by FromScratchSF

I have no contract with them, it's an at-will marketplace with no written agreement.  I post when I want, or not post if I don't want to.

There must be terms of service somewhere on the web site that dictate what they are responsible for, what you are responsible for, what happens if something goes wrong, etc. If there are no formal terms like this I would advise against participating at all.

JWinslow Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 7:13pm
post #8 of

IMO, you should have the option of providing the nutritional info without having to turnover your recipes,  Did you ask if you can provide it yourself?  

My other thought is dessert and nutritional info is a bit of a oxymoron especially because of all the butter, sugar and good chocolate we use.  I would think this could be counter productive with sales,

FromScratchSF Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 7:32pm
post #9 of

Jeanie, FOR SURE I'm nervous about that - I mean, I have no doubt that sales will suffer when people see "gutbomb chocolate cake, 2500 kCals".  LOL  I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, I just wanted to see some other perspectives as far as essentially turning over my recipes to use this service because they think it should be no big deal.  I am the only real pastry chef that works with them, they have savory chefs that post dessert but they do things like french toast or they will buy premade puff pastry at Restaurant Depot then fill it with canned apple pie filling.  The other chefs also don't have separate businesses.  I can't imagine anyone is raising a stink over this except me.  

 

I just got an email that I can calculate the info myself and give it to them.  So I guess I won that battle!  But I'm not crazy here, right?  Would all of you raise a slight stink over this also?

cakesbycathy Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 8:31pm

I would.  You have spent a great deal of time and resources to perfect your recipes.  I certainly would be nervous to just hand them over, so to speak.

Given that desserts are known for being high in calories, and posting that info might discourage some people from ordering, can you just say "available upon request"?

It seems that by posting the info you are now at risk for losing business.
 

jason_kraft Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 8:34pm

AGenerally nutritional information is provided on a per serving basis, if the serving size is small enough the numbers shouldn't be too high.

JWinslow Posted 23 Jul 2013 , 10:22pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF 

Jeanie, FOR SURE I'm nervous about that - I mean, I have no doubt that sales will suffer when people see "gutbomb chocolate cake, 2500 kCals".  LOL  I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, I just wanted to see some other perspectives as far as essentially turning over my recipes to use this service because they think it should be no big deal.  I am the only real pastry chef that works with them, they have savory chefs that post dessert but they do things like french toast or they will buy premade puff pastry at Restaurant Depot then fill it with canned apple pie filling.  The other chefs also don't have separate businesses.  I can't imagine anyone is raising a stink over this except me.  

 

I just got an email that I can calculate the info myself and give it to them.  So I guess I won that battle!  But I'm not crazy here, right?  Would all of you raise a slight stink over this also?


No you're not crazy!  If I had your recipe chest I would protect it also.  So glad to hear you can submit the info yourself. I still say watch your sales over the couple of months.  If things seem to drop off, you might want to have another email exchange with the owner. 

SugaredSaffron Posted 24 Jul 2013 , 1:18am

I wouldn't mind, it's not like people would be able to re-create your recipes just by seeing a list of ingredients. Bea of Bloomsbury has all her ingredients listen online for each of her cakes and I don't think it's impacted her business badly at all: http://shop.beasofbloomsbury.com/collections/cakes

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 24 Jul 2013 , 1:44am
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugaredSaffron 

I wouldn't mind, it's not like people would be able to re-create your recipes just by seeing a list of ingredients. Bea of Bloomsbury has all her ingredients listen online for each of her cakes and I don't think it's impacted her business badly at all: http://shop.beasofbloomsbury.com/collections/cakes


She's just giving ingredients, not amounts. For a calorie counter you have to give exact amount of each ingredient, most of my recipes are ones I have developed, so no way would I be OK with that either.

FromScratchSF Posted 24 Jul 2013 , 1:45am

The ingredients won't be available to the public, I would be giving them in precise amounts to the service so they can calculate and provide the nutritional info on the website.  This is a service that was created by and run by chefs, and in addition to the independent contractors (like me) that make food, they have in-house chefs that make food just for them as employees.  I don't know - I don't see what would stop them from using my recipes and claiming them as their own if I leave.  What leads me to this is - they take professional quality photos of all food put on the website for sale.  Even though I made the food, they own the photo and I apparently can't use them as part of my business.  They claim they own the copyright even though I own the intellectual property.  I let this one go for now.  But my recipes... I'm just having a real hard time with this.

 

Please express alternate viewpoints!  I am open to others saying I'm overreacting.  In fact, I want people to tell me I'm overreacting so I don't leave the co-op.  It's a steady source of income that will be felt if it's gone.  

Annabakescakes Posted 24 Jul 2013 , 2:01am

There is NO WAY, yo should let them have your recipes! Especially with pictures of your food, and such, already. I wouldn't let them have mine, it would be a deal breaker. 

 

And now I am squeamish, thinking of the canned apple pie filling. How hard it is to slice some apples, mix with with some sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt and cook in a crock pot for an hour or two? You don't even have to watch it! You can actually nuke it for 10 minutes, and eat it with vanilla wafers and vanilla ice cream. YUM! 

FromScratchSF Posted 24 Jul 2013 , 2:18am

Anna, haven't you ever watched Chopped?  Savory chefs don't bake unless it's bread pudding or pain perdu.  Otherwise known as French toast.  Some can even make pot du creme, otherwise known as pudding.  One person takes crushed chocolate cookies (store bought), puts it into the bottom of a 4oz plastic portion cup, makes whipped cream, adds mint extract and green food color, shaves some chocolate on it, and calls it "grasshopper pie".  

 

People buy the crap out of it.

 

Look, I can't make grill marks on a steak, I have no idea what chimichury sauce is, and it would take me all day to chop a 50 lb bag of onions and it would probably put me in the hospital, so the same mockery can be said about my lack of culinary skills!

Annabakescakes Posted 24 Jul 2013 , 2:31am

No, I never have watched it, but I can cook. It just isn't hard to make fillings! You don't really have to do anything! Just "CHOP" measure, stir, simmer. Surely they can do that?? I'm not asking them to bake a cake!

SugaredSaffron Posted 24 Jul 2013 , 3:28pm

Personally I still wouldn't mind, unless they've given you a cause for concern then I would trust them.

As for the photos, I think that's pretty standard. The photographer or whoever contractually owns the copyright doesn't have to give you the images. They can if they're nice, but just because you made the cake doesn't mean you have own the picture that somebody else took with their camera and time etc. I've done shoots with publications and I can't use the images afterwards and they don't provide copies etc whilst others are more than happy to send you the images as long as you credit them/photographer.

Pyro Posted 25 Jul 2013 , 5:08am

If you spent time, energy and money creating the recipes that made your business successful, it's anything but foolish to be afraid anyone else might get their hands on them.

 

The website owners probably created the tool only to make it simple for submitters to post the calories on their products. Unfortunately you don't know what happens after you input your recipe, maybe nothing, maybe someone copies your recipes and becomes a competitor or someone grabs a bunch of recipes and publishes a cookbook, or the business gets sold and the internal policy changes. It sounds like no one signed a NDA.

 

Fortunately, you are able to provide your own calorie calculations. This solves all issues for now and I would totally go that way. You don't have to change how you do business with the coop as long as they allow you to provide the numbers, heck it seems someone as to manually input them anyway if they allow you to.

morganchampagne Posted 25 Jul 2013 , 6:42am

AMy operation is what I consider to be small time. I've tried not to let my business become more than I can handle.....

BUT YOU WOULD HAVE TO PRY MY RECIPE OUT OF MY COLD DEAD HANDS. This may sound like its too much but I spent YEARS creating something my customers love I'm not giving it up. Not interested in doing a cookbook either and I've been asked. (Although I think it's great)

As others have said hopefully they let you just send a calorie count or some general info. There has to be a happy medium. Surely they can understand you not wanting to give up your recipe. Surely!

vgcea Posted 25 Jul 2013 , 7:08am

AFromScratchSF you're not being unreasonable at all. It's one thing if you have generic recipes but a good, consistent, original scratch recipe is gold. Plus since there are no guidelines on how they plan to handle the recipes, it makes sense to be careful. Who knows if one year down the line they change management and the new guys decide to publish their Chefs' Best Recipes because they are so popular?

If there was so confidentiality agreement or something to say they would use the recipes for the data alone and keep it private then it wouldn't be much of a problem but the uncertainty is what raises concerns.

MimiFix Posted 25 Jul 2013 , 4:54pm

One of my clients had a similar situation. He was required to submit all his recipes to accommodate one of his accounts, a restaurant under new management. The nutrition software works by inputting all ingredients so I found substitutions that would keep the nutrition info intact but would not work if anyone followed the revised ingredients. I don't remember now the exact substitutions, but for instance, I subbed hi-gluten flour for cake flour, salt for baking soda, etc. My client was especially pleased that if anyone did tried to take his recipes, they would be rather surprised with their results.      

Annabakescakes Posted 25 Jul 2013 , 5:06pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix 

One of my clients had a similar situation. He was required to submit all his recipes to accommodate one of his accounts, a restaurant under new management. The nutrition software works by inputting all ingredients so I found substitutions that would keep the nutrition info intact but would not work if anyone followed the revised ingredients. I don't remember now the exact substitutions, but for instance, I subbed hi-gluten flour for cake flour, salt for baking soda, etc. My client was especially pleased that if anyone did tried to take his recipes, they would be rather surprised with their results.      

That is awesome!

TheSugarLab Posted 25 Jul 2013 , 8:41pm

I have on of Buddy's cookbooks and I remember ready about a recipe notebook that contained all of the original recipes. However, many of the ingredients were incorrect. Like you had to know which recipe switched the amounts or used baking powder instead of baking soda. So that if was fine if someone got a hold of the book and thought they were making something amazing. I've thought about doing that but I would probably forget which ones I changed. 

FromScratchSF Posted 28 Jul 2013 , 5:53pm

I have an update, in case anyone is interested... 

 

So their whole point is to make sure things are "accurate" and "correct", therefore I cannot calculate my own values for my base recipes and give it to them.  For some reason, they think I am incapable of calculating those things correct - almost like they think there are many different master lists of nutritional values and somehow their list is THE list.  

 

So this morning I hop on the system and start typing in "chocolate" into the field, just to see what pops up.  As I suspected, "chocolate cake, prepared from recipe, without frosting" pops up.  I type in "frosting" and it pops up.  Then I type in "cake" and I get "chocolate cake, angel food cake, sponge cake" etc.  HAHAHAHAHAHA  and you cannot add an ingredient to their list.

 

So here I've been stressing out on wanting to make sure my stuff is accurate because of some pig headed notion that I hate lying to customers - and they've uploaded a list that includes a ton of pre-packaged and prepared foods.  So if that's what the other chefs are using, then I guess I'll use it too.  Accuracy indeed.

 

So, I just posted a red velvet cake - although "red velvet" wasn't in the drop-down menu, I used "chocolate cake" since the ingredients are similar and since it's not going to be accurate unless I calculate the values myself, I figure, what difference does it make?  Then I used "frosting".  

 

We'll see if I actually sell any cake now!

 

I still feel a little dirty.

JWinslow Posted 28 Jul 2013 , 7:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF 

I have an update, in case anyone is interested... 

 

So their whole point is to make sure things are "accurate" and "correct", therefore I cannot calculate my own values for my base recipes and give it to them.  For some reason, they think I am incapable of calculating those things correct - almost like they think there are many different master lists of nutritional values and somehow their list is THE list.  

 

So this morning I hop on the system and start typing in "chocolate" into the field, just to see what pops up.  As I suspected, "chocolate cake, prepared from recipe, without frosting" pops up.  I type in "frosting" and it pops up.  Then I type in "cake" and I get "chocolate cake, angel food cake, sponge cake" etc.  HAHAHAHAHAHA  and you cannot add an ingredient to their list.

 

So here I've been stressing out on wanting to make sure my stuff is accurate because of some pig headed notion that I hate lying to customers - and they've uploaded a list that includes a ton of pre-packaged and prepared foods.  So if that's what the other chefs are using, then I guess I'll use it too.  Accuracy indeed.

 

So, I just posted a red velvet cake - although "red velvet" wasn't in the drop-down menu, I used "chocolate cake" since the ingredients are similar and since it's not going to be accurate unless I calculate the values myself, I figure, what difference does it make?  Then I used "frosting".  

 

We'll see if I actually sell any cake now!

 

I still feel a little dirty.

 

 

Good Grief!  Just shaking my head :)

Annabakescakes Posted 28 Jul 2013 , 8:36pm

AThat is absolutely incredible.

jason_kraft Posted 28 Jul 2013 , 8:47pm

AThat's a common shortcut in these kinds of systems...if there are a lot of different ways to produce a specific dish and the nutritional info won't vary that much among the different recipes, the system will provide a few abstracted database entries (or just one) to correspond to the popular varieties. For example, there is probably only one entry for chicken parm.

I have a feeling they won't accept your own calculated nutritional info more for technical and financial reasons than a concern for accuracy. If they don't currently have the capability to allow calculated nutritional info as an option, they would need to pay their programmers to make this change in the system, and this change would probably need to be applied to all their customers.

The argument that they want to ensure the system is as accurate as possible sounds a lot better than saying they don't want to be bothered with the change or spend money on it. If you offered to pay for the cost of making the change to the system they would probably have a different response.

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