Ask the Test Cooks

Ask Matthew: Is It Wrong of Me to Take Credit for Your Recipes?

This series answers all of your cooking questions. And yes, by all we mean the wild, silly, and "stupid" ones, too.

Published Nov. 2, 2018.

Before Matthew Fairman joined Cook's Country as a test cook, he cooked in many restaurants and taught college literature and writing. When he’s not pitching a new take on fried rice to his editors or whispering to his slow cookers, Matthew is usually scaling plastic mountains at the climbing gym or running food experiments on his wife, Lauren, and cat, Daisy. One day, he hopes to pay for climbing trips by selling fried rice from a food truck to hungry people stumbling out of bars after last call.

Have a food-related question? Shoot Matthew a message at

I live in Colorado and brought in a green chili dish of yours to the office for a potluck. So many have asked me for my recipe. :) Is it wrong to take the credit? Additionally, this freezes well. I shred the pork at the end. So good!

— Anne M., Recipe: Colorado Green Chili

Dear Home Cook,

First of all, in the face of such a moral quandary, who can say—in final, black-and-white terms—what is right and what is wrong? If people love the dish you made, you certainly deserve some credit. In fact, you deserve A LOT of credit. Yeah! After all, who paid for your subscription to Cook’s Country? You did. Who had the critical wherewithal to pick out this specific recipe, when there are so many other recipes available out there? You👏did 👏. And who shopped for and bought all those ingredients? You. Who put in the work of broiling, peeling, and chopping all those chiles? Why, it was you!

And yet, when the rubber meets the road and all your co-workers are slurping down the chili, complimenting you on your recipe, there is a still, small voice saying, “Your recipe!? You’re a fraud! Tell them it was Cook’s Country’s recipe!”

Well, before you go doing that, here’s what I recommend. Make the recipe again, only this time, make a few minuscule changes—just enough to silence that conscience of yours. Add ¼ teaspoon of cumin. Maybe replace half the jalapeños with some nearly identical-tasting serrano chiles. (Editor’s Note: Read “Getting to Know: Heat” to see how differently chiles pack heat.) If you’re really feeling fancy, throw in a pinch or two of Mexican oregano and ground coriander. Not enough to change the flavor, mind you—just enough to change the recipe. Now it’s yours. But do us a favor. Slip a Cook’s Country recommendation into the conversation about your delicious chili.

TAKEAWAY: To ensure that your moral conscience remains intact the next time someone asks for your recipe at a gathering, add a little bit of your own twist to our dishes. This way, it's a shared credit—our original recipe with your variation. Talk about a win-win.

Good night (and good luck),

Matthew Fairman

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