Working For Someone Else With My Recipes

Business By megacy Updated 8 Apr 2015 , 1:46am by megacy

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megacy Posted 6 Apr 2015 , 6:16pm
post #1 of 10

I started a new job baking for a very small cafe in my town.  I have my own recipes, and can bake whatever I want.  My job replaced the very busy owner, who no longer has to come in and bake early in the morning.  Around a week in, she asked for a couple of the recipes, not right away, but sometime soon, so that if I'm ever sick, or go away for a few days (she's referring to days off I have during the summer due to family getaways I had already planned before being hired) she can still bake the already popular items I've been doing.

I don't mind giving her some of the recipes, but a few I really do.  They're uniquely mine.  She's potentially making a lot of money off my recipes.  I'm really hoping someone outside this can help me come up with a solution.    I really enjoy working here, and the people.  It's a very small business.  Do I sell her the recipes?  If so, for how much?  Do I give her the recipes with an agreement that she keep me employed for such and such time?  Does anyone have any other suggestions?  I know I should have dealt of this before hand, I honestly didn't think it would come up this quick.

9 replies
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Pastrybaglady Posted 6 Apr 2015 , 8:30pm
post #2 of 10

This looks like a good question for @MimiFix   Are you in the house Mimi?

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Gingerlocks Posted 6 Apr 2015 , 9:47pm
post #3 of 10

I wouldn't share my personal unique recipes. Those are your's and they make you employable and in demand; if you give those away there's nothing stopping her sharing your recipes and what happens when your employment ends? Its not like you can take them back, she already knows them. 

I do share recipes on my website; but I even state "these are not the current recipes we use; we may have used them in the past. If you'd like to try our unique cakes, you need to try one of our cakes!". The reason I even post some of our old recipes (which were basically genaric WASC etc.. I learned at collage) I do this to help get across just how much goes into a custom cake i.e. cost; but there is no waaayy I would give out the current recipes I use; there's way to much hard work and "testing" and time and money to get those recipes just right. Those are yours and you should be under no obligation to give them away. 

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jgifford Posted 6 Apr 2015 , 9:56pm
post #4 of 10

How long will you be gone at any one time?  Would it be possible for you to bake ahead of time and freeze?  Share what you're comfortable with sharing, but no way should you have to divulge your best recipes.  If the owner insists on those, too, she's being unreasonable.

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-K8memphis Posted 6 Apr 2015 , 9:57pm
post #5 of 10

you could pre-measure some of the ingredients of the special recipes so she will never know what all is in there -- just make her some 'mixes' and then give all the rest of the instructions -- that's one way to safeguard them but using your own recipes was taking a big risk in the first place -- be careful it doesn't create hard feelings

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johnson6ofus Posted 7 Apr 2015 , 4:35am
post #6 of 10

I would also not give them up. Just say, "I worked too long and too hard to develop these. I'm sorry." I would also pre-measure and premix some to let her "whip it up" in your absence. "Pour this liquid (stored in a sealed jar/ bowl)  into this dry mix (sealed in a dry bowl)..."

You may be able to get the sting out by adding, "If you would like on working up some new creations, I am happy to help..."

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MimiFix Posted 7 Apr 2015 , 6:46pm
post #7 of 10

Your employer's request to have the recipes on site is perfectly fair - she has a business to run and customers who want to purchase food.  If you don't mind giving her some of your recipes, then give them to her. For recipes you consider to be uniquely yours, keep them at home. You are not obligated to share anything personal that is done on your own time. 

But I don't think you should ask to be paid for them. We each think of ourselves as talented and special. And of course we are! But really, any decent baker can whip up a few excellent baked goods using recipes found on sites such as It's not the recipe, so much as the bakers' technique.

I'm sure your employer is also aware that there are items delivered frozen that are surprisingly tasty. Sadly, most customers can't tell the difference between scratch made and frozen, and many actually prefer bake-off, thaw and sell, or products from a mix. 
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cakesbycathy Posted 7 Apr 2015 , 10:12pm
post #8 of 10

Give her the ones you are comfortable with sharing.  The ones you'd rather not share I would politely explain to her your reasons for keeping them to yourself.

HOWEVER...The problem I see that you may run into...if you are working for her and she is selling the product she may feel entitled to your recipes.  I don't know if you are considered an employee or an independent contractor but you might need to have a chat with an attorney to see if she is legally entitled to your recipes since you work for her and she is already selling the items in her shop.

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littlejewel Posted 8 Apr 2015 , 12:06am
post #9 of 10

How did you get youself involved with this job? She probably doesn't pay you near what you're worth. Anytime an employer tells you feel free to use your own recipes, they think they are entitled to them.  I used to work for a national food service company that wanted me to come up with my own creations to use up their leftovers as well as extras in the cooler. When a new supervisor started she asked people to make her ice tea and bring it to her tiny office. I suspected  she might be trouble so I took my recipes that I was willing to share home. 

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megacy Posted 8 Apr 2015 , 1:46am
post #10 of 10

Thank you everyone!!  It was great getting all the input.  So now, it's time to sit down and talk to the owner.   Just so everyone knows, there's no animosity on either side, and I believe she'll be fine with whatever do I share.  We probably will involve attorneys at some point, since she'd like to grow the business, and has, just today, asked me to head up the baking end. Lots to think and talk about.  Thanks again for all the advice and suggestions, I really do appreciate it!

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