Whose Dish Is It Anyway?
Art Law

Whose Dish Is It Anyway?

LastLast spring, just as she made the semifinals for the James Beard Awards for the second year in a row, Butcher & Bee pastry chef Cynthia Wong lawyered up. In 2016, the Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant had hired her — an alumna of Cakes & Ale and Empire State South in Atlanta — to build a pastry program with national significance, which she had done. She had signed with a literary agent. Moreover, she decided she wanted out of restaurants in order to build her own project around the ice cream treats shaped like fried chicken drumsticks she created at Butcher & Bee. But restaurant owner Michael Shemtov, she says, had made noises that he would keep serving ice cream drumsticks after she left. So before she gave formal notice, she hired an attorney. “You work your whole life to create a catalog of things that are very stylistically tied to you, so the idea that you pass them up when you leave a job is absurd,” Wong says. Who owns a signature dish: the cook who invented it or the restaurant that first put it on the menu? Most diners don’t particularly care, and on the other side […]

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