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We'll Have the Fried Chicken©

By Andrew Jenkins in Food on Oct 26, 2006 7:20PM

Moto’s Chef Homaro Cantu has invented an edible paper on which he prints his menus using organic inks and a Canon printer. OK, that’s a little off the wall, but we’ll believe it. After all, Chicago’s stock as an experimental culinary destination has been on the rise as of late. What makes Cantu’s paper, and many of his other gastronomical creations, different is the fact that he is applying to have them patented. He even goes so far as to print the following legal jargon on his tasty paper: Confidential Property of and © H. Cantu. Patent Pending. No further use or disclosure is permitted without prior approval of H. Cantu.

moto2.gifThis is pretty revolutionary stuff for the restaurant scene, at least according to Food & Wine. While Doritos may have a patent for their Cool Ranch recipe, copyrighting a chef’s dish or cooking method simply hasn’t happened in the past. Instead, chefs and restaurants have been more likely to borrow concepts and, with (or without) modifications, add them to their own repertoire. The era of the royalty-free sampling, for both culinary ideas and hip-hop beats, appears to have a foot out the door.

It should be noted that Cantu has some pretty wild inventions that he’s looking to patent. He can use his printer and turn out an apple for crying out loud. He also created a three-inch polymer box that if heated to 350 degrees can retain enough heat to cook a filet of fish. Three inches? Two words: stocking stuffer. Cantu tells F&W that multiple companies and organization have already approached him about his foodie inventions. The argument for patenting, as he sees it, is that the profits he will receive from his creations will keep him in one spot, as opposed to seeking further revenue by building a restaurant empire.

Though these patents may go a long way to protect chefs’ intellectual property, some are concerned that it will create a greater sense of suspicion and paranoia in the industry. Cantu apparently asks his visitors to sign a nondisclosure agreement before entering his kitchen. Didn’t Willy Wonka do the same thing? If things continue this way, Chicagoist may soon be asking some of you for royalties from our Spicy Pumpkin Soup and Brussels Sprouts recipes.

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