Thought Questions for Chefs and Restauranteurs On Developing and Protecting Culinary Intellectual Property And Increasing Public Awareness in the “Food Network” Age:
By Nancy L. McCullough, Esq.

After advising several chefs, whose careers preceded the on-line and television explosion of interest in food TV shows, it became clear that thinking of ways to change with the times, leverage their knowledge, experience, and work product for the social media age, and find ways to entice new, younger demographic was not only high necessary, but sometimes the key to staying relevant and staying in business.

These are some questions that I found that gave them “food for thought” (yes, I had to say it), and some perspectives on cultivating new opportunities:

(1) How has the increasing prevalence and popularity of television cooking shows ("Chopped", "Throwdown with Bobby Flay") and cooking-oriented websites (e.g.,,, changed your business and your customer’s demand? Have you changed your service offerings along with what is demonstrably appealing to audiences on the TV shows, or just kept doing what you’ve always done?

(2) For those of you who have written traditional print cookbooks, how can you help the public understand why they are still important, even though many recipes are available on line?

(3) Have you thought about partnering with amateur, self-styled or otherwise non-professional food preparers with large social media followings, or up-and- coming food bloggers, to co-promote your respective brans?

(4) Are you thinking about how your written product (articles, recipes, blog posts) might be helpful content on the sites of non-competing food industry professionals?

(5) How does respect or trust for another chef or food writer affect your willingness to let them use, attributed or otherwise, your recipes or techniques on their site, TV show or blog?  Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery, or are they robbing you blind?

(6) If you are invited to cook on a TV show, how does concern for protecting any culinary trade secrets (recipes, techniques, ingredients) affect your decisions on what to prepare for a televised cooking presentation? How does that change if you are preparing an Internet webinar?  Or co-writing a cookbook or article?  Or doing a live demonstration at a food festival?