PDX Women Chefs & Restaurateurs

Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights by triciab
February 6, 2010, 12:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Notes from Our January Meeting

Fourteen local food professionals attended our latest meeting on Sunday, January 24. The meeting was hosted by Catherine Schon of Sassafras Catering in SE Portland. Everyone brought a dish to share at the potluck before the meeting (yum!) and each contributor to the potluck used their talents, skills, knowledge, and experience to create their individual dishes.

Protecting these unique talents, skills, knowledge, and experience from being copied or stolen by others was the topic of the evening’s discussion. This month’s guest speakers were Ann W. Glazer, a partner with the Stoel Rives law firm in downtown Portland who specializes in intellectual-property rights, and Tony Kullen, an independent attorney who provides legal and business-advisory services to start-ups and small businesses.

Recipes are a difficult thing to copyright because so many chefs at different restaurants cook similar dishes, using similar ingredients, said Glazer. Nevertheless, she pointed out several steps entrepreneurs can take to protect their unique creations:

Domain names: Register the domain name for your restaurant or business.

Patents: Patents are expensive and somewhat difficult to get. You can’t patent ideas. For example, you couldn’t obtain a patent on Chicken Pot Pie, since it’s already been done before, and making this recipe is not a unique process. Nevertheless, you could patent a new cooking utensil that you have invented, or a new way of doing something that is unique. For example, Glaser pointed out that George Foreman [probably] owns the patent on his “George Foreman Grill.”

Copyrights: Even though you can’t copyright a recipe (which is basically just a list of ingredient and a set of instructions on how to prepare them) you can a story or narrative that includes the recipe. For example, if you published a recipe that included a story of where the recipe came from and/or a personal anecdote about how you learned to cook that way, and who taught you, etc., you could copyright the entire story. You can also copyright a collection of recipes, if you publish online or in the form of a cookbook. To copyright something, simply put the copyright symbol (the letter C inside of a circle), the year, and your name or name of your business (example: © 2010 Acme Restaurant). Please note that this won’t prevent someone else from copying your recipe and serving it in their restaurant; however, it would signal to them that they shouldn’t copy your story and publish it as their own creation, or copy your collection of recipes and publish it as their own.

Trademarks: If you develop a unique product or brand name, you can register it at a trademark (denoted by the symbol TM) with the U.S. Trademark Office. Although not as expensive as getting a patent, getting a trademark does cost money.

Trade secrets: The most famous example of a trade secret is the recipe for Coca-Cola. As a restaurateur, you could (if you wish) protect your recipes and cooking methods as trade secrets–if you can prove you made a reasonable effort to keep them secret, says Kullen. For example:

  • Don’t share your recipes with anyone.
  • Make it a written policy to keep visitors out of your kitchen.
  • Keep your recipe book under lock and key at all times when not in use.
  • Write “Trade Secret: Do Not Copy” on the cover of your recipe book and at the top of every recipe.
  • Require all of your employees sign detailed Non-disclosure Agreements before they start working for you.

One the other hand, some food professionals don’t bother trying to keep anything secret. They find they gain more exposure and free publicity by sharing their recipes freely, online, in print, or even by making individual recipe cards available at farmer’s markets and other retail outlets.

Non-disclosure agreements: A non-disclosure agreement is a written agreement between your and your employee, stating that if (when) they leave your employ, they agree to not take any recipes or cooking methods with them that they learn while working for you. You don’t want your former employees taking all your best recipes and cooking methods with them when they leave and using them in another restaurant, or using them to start their own restaurant that will compete directly with yours.

Of course, enforcing all of these provisions is easier said than done. “Lawsuits are costly and uncertain,” Glazer says. “It’s much easier to shame someone else into not stealing your recipes and using them as your own than is to sue them and win. A lot of this boils down to ethics. When you’re copying or borrowing someone else’s recipe for your own use, think of how you would want to be treated. You’d probably want some credit for it.”

“The best defense of your restaurant’s name and reputation is your own skills, experience, and the care you take in preparing and serving your food,” she adds.

In other words, if you prepare and serve your food with love and care and build a unique and favorable reputation for yourself and your business, someone else may be able to copy your recipes, but they won’t be able to compete with you!


Sample Non-Disclosure Agreement: http://www.nolo.com/products/noncompete-agreement-PR112.html

U.S. Copyright Office website: A wealth of information, forms, and instructions for copyright registration: http://www.copyright.gov/

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website: http://www.uspto.gov/


Stories and food at Wordstock by cafemamadotcom
October 2, 2009, 10:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Each time I attend one of our meetings, I come away remembering two things: the food, and the stories. I can see Elizabeth Montes’ eyes describing her desire to create chocolate that is, not sexy, but sensual. I can imagine the bewilderment in the Nostrana walk-in when Kelly Myers was considering what to do with 80 pounds of tiny, tart, beautiful wild plums. I can taste the idea of the foods you describe, imagine, complex and amazing, tomatillo lime sorbet, habanero chocolate cake.

Given my love for stories, and food, and hearing storytellers up close and personal, you’ll understand my thrill when I learned that this year’s Wordstock was focusing on a few genres and one of those was food. I think you’ll agree that the writers I’m excited to see are masters of the storytelling art, like Lisa M Hamilton, whose book Deeply Rooted tells of several farmers who walk against the tide of conventional agriculture. Another is Shannon Borg, whose book’s quixotic and delightful nature is obvious just in reading its title, Chefs on the Farm: Recipes and Inspiration from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts.

Will you come with me? Next Saturday, October 10, several sessions in the afternoon are focused around food and (mostly) local women writers. At 6 p.m., after the sessions, let’s get together for a “picnic” potluck at the convention center. I’ll be attending sessions on Sunday, too, and hope I’ll see some of you on both days. Tickets for the festival are $5 per day.

Saturday food sessions:

  • 3 p.m., Wieden+Kennedy Stage. Bill Thorness and Langdon Cook. Bill is author of Edible Heirlooms, a “beautiful book” about growing heirloom vegetables in the Pacific NW (Bill’s also a biker!). Langdon is author of the sparkling, entertaining story-book Fat of the Land, a series of essays about foraging in the Pacific Northwest. He is the reason I am seriously considering learning how to dig for razor clams (season opens soon!).
  • 4 p.m., Columbia Sportswear Stage. Seasons of Change Panel with Tom Malterre, Shannon Borg, and Piper Davis: ‘How much should people be encouraged to eat seasonal food? Hear three authors discuss the challenges of providing a seasonal menu, the impacts of rising demand on famers and others aspects of eating seasonally.’ Tom is a certified nutritionist and co-author of the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. Piper is the daughter of Grand Central Bakery founder and now is co-owner and cuisine manager of the bakery operation, as well as having co-written the upcoming (October 6th!) and, for me, hugely anticipated Grand Central Baking Book.
  • 5 p.m., Columbia Sportswear Stage. Ellen Jackson, Piper Davis and Julie Richardson. Ellen is co-author of the Grand Central Baking Book, and has a very Portland history as pastry chef and chef de cuisine at Park Kitchen. Julie is co-owner of Baker & Spice, and gets cred for developing her career with a booth at the Portland Farmer’s Market. She’s the co-author of the dessert cookbook on the top of my wishlist, Rustic Fruit Desserts.
  • 5 p.m., University of Oregon Nonfiction Stage. Lisa Weasel and Lisa M. Hamilton. Weasel is the vastly well-educated writer of Food Fray: Inside the Controversy Over Genetic Food. She earned her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Cambridge and she now teaches at Portland State. Hamilton also wrote a book on a Japanese form of natural agriculture, Farming to Create Heaven on Earth.

Sunday food sessions:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this event earlier in the week: the creation of U-Pick at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center. It’ll be a food, art, and words cookbook zine. From 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6, zinesters will gather for a community event to lay out, edit and print a zine capturing community submissions. You’ll have to pre-register here.

What’s your wild plum? by Amanda
August 19, 2009, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

First, sorry for the late post!

We had an inspirational, informative meeting on August 10 with Kelly Myers, chef de cuisine of Nostrana and co-founder of Market Chefs.

At Nostrana, the menu used to change twice a day, every day. Back when they bought everything everyone would sell them, developing menus was like a culinary Rubik’s cube. But the skills and wisdom Kelly gleaned from an abundance of new ingredients and challenges has not only played a key part in Nostrana’s reputation as a destination restaurant.

Here’s a summary of the key takeaways. You can also download the file of Kelly’s handout, too.

Seasonal Menu Planning

  1. Quality is the reason to do seasonal menu planning. But it’s also how restaurants can best support the local food economy. We need lots of chefs who can think on their feet and get excited about fresh food that blows their mind when it comes in the door.
  2. Why do seasonal menu planning besides politically and ecologically? Because it gives you inspiration, vitality, creativity and a sense of focus. It’s not about feeling overwhelmed by abundance. Instead, you get to pick and choose what you work with.
  3. Even though seasonal menu planning is about thinking on your feet, it’s okay to work from a recipe. While ratios are important, the true way that cooking is like art stems from the fact that we’re all constantly borrowing from each other.
  4. You must make time for yourself to slowly taste things, preferably with someone next to you to give you feedback. The starting place is going to farmers market.
  5. If you’re a farmers market regular, try one in an unfamiliar neighborhood to discover new ingredients.  Get out of your routine, observe how people shop in ways you don’t normally do yourself. Tap into that excitement. New smaller markets (Montavilla, Oregon City) are starting to feature microgrowers; these markets are nurturing new farmers.  Identify growers who have specialties and decide who you want to work with. Form relationships with growers and tap in to greater wisdom.
  6. Excess of an ingredient (such as wild plums or huckleberries) can lead you to become a gleaner of ideas (huckleberry vinaigrette on beets) and developer of recipes that waiters can market to guests (huckleberry wild plum mostarda).
  7. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by an ingredient, stay within cuisine and identity of your business. For example, imagine the most Italian thing you can do.
  8. Follow the wisdom of elders, prevent fusion confusion craziness. There are people who have come before us who know these things.
  9. Deciding what to zero in on helps you to be profitable.
  10. Pick and choose; you don’t have to support every small farmer all the time.
  11. Remember, fresh local ingredients cook fastre due to higher water content.

After her presentation, Kelly broke up the attendees into small groups to develop 3-course menus using fresh ingredients she’d brought with her:

  • Parslane (from Gathering Together Farm, does a lot of seed breeding, know what grows here). Lemony.
  • Celery – is everywhere but grows locally too. Taste it – realize it’s tasty. The pale inner leaves chopped are quite good in grain salads or part of an herb mixture or egg salad.
  • Medicinal mushroom
  • Tomatillos, when you’re stumped go to the culture of that produce and learn what to do with it
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Summer chanterelles (much less moisture), flavor and texture more concentrated (dry more flavor)
  • Cucumbers
  • Bitter melon (Ayers Creek) – salt them to draw out some of the bitterness
  • Jalapenos, Serrano, banana, Anaheim, poblano
  • Padrone peppers
  • Lamb’s quarters (use it like spinach)
  • Figs
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Arabian blue barley
  • Fromento

And here’s just a small sampling of the dishes the attendees dreamed up (I wish I’d caught all the ideas in my notes — I didn’t capture one of the most amazing menus, which — not surprisingly — from Amelia Hard’s group).

  • Fromento cookie figs stuffed with goat cheese
  • Flourless chocolate cake with habanero caramel Chantilly cream
  • Sorbet of sweet cucumbers and local gin
  • Ginger soup fresh celery with Arabian blue barley like rice porridge
  • Roasted banana peppers, tomatillos, and lamb’s quarters
  • Bitter melon with ground lamb, roasted figs
  • Panang curry with parslane and other vegetables
  • Figs in cabernet vinegar with goat cheese or savory goat
  • Fromento cereal with maple syrup or maybe cooked figs

This was a creative and inspirational topic on many fronts that ignited not only a passion for seasonal menu planning but also deeper devotion to local farmers.


Adrienne Innskeep, our gracious host, wrapped up the meeting by sharing a quick overview of the online restaurant reservations software she and her husband developed based on their own challenges at Siam Society.

Various people were taking down reservations, and people showing up Saturday nights claiming to have a reservation. Because of the problems, Siam Society stopped taking reservations, which ended up frustrating guests.

They were approached by other online reservation systems, which were prohibitively expensive, required major hardwareinvestments, long contracts, and lots of training.

So instead, Adrienne and her husband developed their own solution — ResosPro, which offers restauranteurs simplicity and value. This homegrown solution has been battle-tested it at Siam Society, including  this past Valentine’s Day. It features a built-in statistical algorithm that paces table turn time. That means it learns from past history what the statistical table time is, automatically stops taking reservations when it reaches maximum capacity.

According to Adrienne, it’s not too technical for technophobes, is easy to program, change table layout and hours of operation. It’s also easy for customers – it takes less than 30 seconds to make a reservation instead of getting redirected away from a web site or having to fill out a ton of info. You can learn more about it at http://www.resos.net

Help needed to keep this group going

I’m getting busier with work and not able to organize meetings as frequently (and obviously, I’m slower at posting updates and notes). This grass-roots effort has been going for almost a year now. Please don’t let it live and die by my schedule. If you’re willing to organize (pick a topic, recruit a speaker, set a date and location, post and email invites), I’d love the help. Let me know in the comments if you’re willing.

seasonal menu workshop

The time is ripe for seasonal menu planning by Amanda

Sorry for the longer break between meetings, but I’m certain you’ll find it well worth the wait.

Hopefully you’ve been taking advantage of Oregon’s summer bounty, whether it’s from the vendors who supply your businesses, the farmers market, or your own backyard Victory Garden.

If you’re looking for inspiration as well as cost-effective and delicious ways to incorporate the day’s freshest ingredients into your menu, look no further than our next session with Kelly Myers.

Kelly Myers of Market Chefs & Nostrana

Kelly Myers of Market Chefs & Nostrana

Here’s more about Kelly from her Market Chefs website:

Kelly is a well known Portland chef and food writer whose work is focused on bringing the healthful pleasures of seasonal eating to practical everyday cooking and eating. Kelly is Chef de Cuisine at Nostrana, a restaurant at the vanguard of Portland’s sustainable and local eating movement and The Oregonian’s 2006 Restaurant of the Year.

Her writing includes a monthly column for Culinate called “Front Burner,” featuring recipes that focus, in her words, on “how we can organize our cooking around both the inspiration of the seasons and the logistical demands of our over-scheduled lives.”

Prior to Nostrana, Kelly served as Menu Chef for the pioneering Portland restaurant Genoa, where she authored seven-course menus pairing the best of the Northwest with Italian regional classics

The menu at Nostrana changes daily, and every day Kelly infuses it with her creativity, passion, enthusiasm and artistry.  Here’s an overview of what you’ll learn from her:

A Workshop about Seasonal Menu Planning, from Inspiration to Technique

  • Workshop participants will learn to stretch themselves as menu writers and as chefs. We’ll look at how to create menus that capture the seasonal moment while also expressing the identity of your business. The goal is distinctive, seasonal menus.
  • We’ll look at what is involved with incorporating more seasonality into your kitchen, including recipe development, small vendor relations, prep techniques, storage requirements and identifying complementary ingredients and flavors.
  • We’ll discuss the best our region has to offer, including legumes, grains, beef, pork, cheeses, fish, and specialty items, as well as vegetables and fruits.
  • As we go over menu development and culinary exploration, there will be an emphasis on finding and cultivating sources of personal inspiration.

Many thanks to Adrienne Innskeep of Siam Society for offering to host our next potluck. Here are the details:

Date: Monday, August 10, 2009

Where: Siam Society, 2703 NE Alberta, PDX, 97211

Phone: 503-610-8424

Time: 5:30-6:30 potluck, 6:30-7:30 presentation (well, at least that’s what we’ll aim for!)

To RSVP, please click here.

Materials to download from 5/18 social media session by Amanda
May 21, 2009, 6:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

First, a million thanks to Jennifer Fields for taking notes this past Monday night. She does a much better job at the blog posting than I do — I hardly even bother to tag anything. (Changing that with this post. Ahem!) Earlier today she posted a great overview of the social media session. Jennifer’s an awesome PR professional and a culinary school graduate as well, which makes her ideally suited for generating buzz about food and restaurants. If you want learn more about her, check out this lovely blog.

Also, many thanks to Amanda Oborne for hosting again. We’ll give your beautiful house a much-deserved break for the next session on season menu planning, to be presented by Kelly Myers (date TBD).

Lesson learned: don’t schedule a meeting on the same night that the IACP has a brainstorming session. We had at least four wonderful women who would have joined us if it wasn’t for the conflicting meetings. (By the way, we look forward to collaborating with the IACP in the future.)

For those interested, here’s a list of businesses and just plain cool folks that were at Monday night’s meeting:

(Apologies if I overlooked any individual or business — I tried to keep track of who was there as best as I could!)

Lastly, here are the files — one about Twitter from Lizzy Caston and the Facebook presentation from Marlynn Schotland. Check them out, especially if you didn’t make it to the event.

Twitter Business Tips

FACEBOOK Business Tips

Opportunities in Social Networking: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook anyone? by Amanda
May 20, 2009, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

In today’s online media-drenched society, is it a must for every individual or business to jump in and participate in all the facets of social networking? Participation in everything likely isn’t necessary, but getting familiar with what social media options are available is a must for any business looking to promote its products and services.

Lucky for attendees of the PDX Women Chefs & Restaurateurs’ potluck last night, four of Portland’s  most well-respected communications and media divas lent their expertise and took a room of 25+ independent business owners and chefs through the basics of a few of the tools available: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Below are a few things the grouped learned about the social media/networking sites.


Suzame Tong took the group through the basics of having presences on LinkedIn, as well as search options that can help users find helpful information they’re looking for. When asked why some of the attendees were not on LinkedIn some answers were that they only thought it was for IT professionals, others hadn’t even heard of it.  Truth be told that LinkedIn is actually for anyone in any industry to join. Suzame even gave an example of searching for key topics that would be of interest to chefs or others in the food business. She utilized the search box to look up certain chefs, restaurants, food writers, etc. Sure enough, many well-known contacts could be found on the site. Some other key take-aways from the discussion:

  • It’s worthwhile to be familiar with the value of LinkedIn, and even register a basic profile of yourself and/or your business.
  • LinkedIn is a great resource to conduct key word searches in finding information or contacts that are relative to your business’s success.
  • The site is an excellent way to leverage professional contacts as it acts as a little Eco-system, imitating the Six-degrees-of-separation idea.
  • Many chef and restaurant groups are currently on LinkedIn in which one can join to expand their network even further.
  • Many food media contacts can be found on LinkedIn.


Next up, Katherine Gray (@thiskat), of The New Civilization, and Lizzy Caston (@misslizzyc) took the group through the wonderful world of Twitter. Twitter has often been referred to as a micro-blogging site, allowing users to post status updates on what they’re doing-or what’s on their minds-in 140 characters or less. On Twitter, users view a page filled with a continuous stream of status updates from people of whom they’re “following”. This allows users to follow other people who have similar interests to theirs, or who are within the same professional industries. It also acts as a window on what topics everyone is talking about at the moment. A few key tips Katherine and Lizzy gave to the group:

  • With Twitter, you have to participate to make it beneficial to you. You get out of it what you put into it. It’s not a site where you simply sign up with a profile and then never check in.
  • It’s good to define what you want from Twitter. Will this be something you use for your personal life, your business? A little of both?
  • In daily life, communities build brands. Twitter is an online community that can build brands, loyalty, a following.
  • Don’t say anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t say to a client’s face at a cocktail party.
  • Interact with your followers. Don’t just post updates about yourself. @reply to people who write directly to you, and @reply, or comment, to others in your stream who are saying things that spark your interest. This is what keeps people engaged, makes them feel a connection to you and leads to a solid community base.
  • Twitter case study: @KOifusion. When KOifusion began with Twitter, Lizzy took the reigns of setting them up on Twitter. She used the Twitter search feature to find people she thought may be interested in a Korean taco truck. She searched among places like Korean food, taco trucks, Korean fusion, etc. to find people, or other businesses, who she thought might be interested in learning about KOifusion. Within a few days, KOifusion saw its the response of people following it back reach over 700. About 90 percent of KOifusion’s followers were direct targets to the company’s market. The important lesson with this study is that followers were hand picked using key search words, not by spamming.


And for our last tour, Marlynn Schotland, the mastermind behind Mamapreneurs, Inc., Urban Bliss and Mama Lit. carried the group through the ins and outs of Facebook. Facebook might be most well known as a site where people sign up and connect with long lost friends and family from all over. This is true, and it is highly used for personal reasons. The other side of Facebook lends itself to an excellent tool for businesses wanting to promote their products and services online. Businesses can create a “page”, which, in a fashion, can serve as a small website on the site. A few key notes about Facebook:

  • There are currently 200 million users on Facebook. Of those, the majority are in the 35+ age range.
  • Facebook gives users a seat at the table, it allows you to be seen and participate in what’s happening online.
  • Facebook allows you to cross-promote by also providing links to your LinkedIn or Twitter sites. In addition, you can also insert a Facebook logo on your other marketing materials such as your newsletter, your main business website, etc. This alerts viewers that they can also find you on the Facebook site.
  • If you’re a business, you can invite people to become fans of yours on the site, allowing for further exposure in viral type of fashion.
  • If you set up a personal page, you can have a maximum of 5,000 friends. A business page allows you to have an unlimited amount of friends/fans.
  • Facebook allows you to create a calendar to promotes your events and special happenings to your friends and fans.

Presentations from the event will be added soon.

5/18 agenda by Amanda
May 11, 2009, 6:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The agenda for next Monday has come together.

Here’s a quick overview:


  • There’ll be a brief overview of this professional social network and talk about its relevance (or lack thereof) to the restaurant community.


  • Katherine Gray of The New Civilization will go over the ins and outs of Twitter. Whether you’re a newbie or regular tweeter, you’ll pick up some great insights and tips. Besides being social media savvy (with great insights from participating in events like SXSW and BlogHer), Katherine is (in my opinion) one of the best web producers in town (she’s the brains behind these two distinctly different and great sites:  TripWire and Al’s Garden Center).
  • Lizzy Caston of Lizzy Caston Communications will share best practices for restaurants using Twitter, including a case study featuring one of her clients that has generated national press interest. I’ve described Lizzy’s background and expertise before — she’s been a generous contributor to this group and many attendees have and continue to benefit from her PR strategies. Also, her food cart blog is not only a great resource for us locals, it received national mention in today’s New York Times. She’s @misslizzyc on Twitter.


  • Marlynn Schotland is one of the most in-demand women in town, and we’re lucky to have her join us next Monday. A successful entrepreneur and an inspiration to many, Marlynn uses Facebook to promote Mamapreneurs, Inc., Urban Bliss and Mama Lit. She’ll share how she uses Facebook to manage three distinct audiences, as well as how she leverages it to market new products and special promotions. You’ll find Marlynn to be an energetic, positive and creative force. 

Don’t forget to RSVP so we know how many to expect.

See you next week!