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Blame It On The Intern

Posted: 09/05/08 07:55 PM ET

When I thought about what to write for The Huffington Post I was stuck on the idea of writing about the Huffington Post, because that's who broke the Cindy McCain story where she, or an intern her people say, lifted recipes from the Food Network's web site and put them on John McCain's web site as her own "favorite family recipes."

I know all this because I got a call from the New York Post asking me how I felt about being one of the chefs whose recipes were reproduced on the McCain web site without my permission.

It was my Passion Fruit Mousse with Caramelized Bananas on top, using a blow torch to caramelize the sugar. I love passion fruit but it's not really readily available and my family doesn't even cook with it. Why would hers? I have a blow torch in my home, but I'm a professional pastry chef and have a degree in silver and gold smithing so it makes sense for me. But Cindy McCain? Why didn't she at least choose something a little more American and homey to steal? Like my Creamy Cranberry Bread Pudding , or maybe my Maple Angel Food Cake.

I'd love to know what that intern was thinking. Either . . .

A) Thought no one would notice

B) Picked recipes with unusual ingredients to help build an image of what an exotic yet nurturing woman she is, cooking at home and making desserts.

C) Decided that a dessert using a blow torch was a good branding image.

I was fascinated with how she got busted. Apparently a NYC lawyer was Googling recipes for a dish using turkey sausage and farfalle, the bow tie shaped pasta, and when she checked the first few options, a couple of them were identical. One was Giada Di Laurentiis' (from the Food Network) and one was Cindy McCain's. So after going to the campaign web site to check McCain's other recipes, the lawyer found 3 family recipes were taken word-for-word from the Food Network Web Site and the fourth was a slightly modified recipe of Rachael Ray's.

Now I know I sound kind of whiney here, but it's not the plagiarism that bothers me so much as that fact that she (or her intern) didn't call to apologize, thank me, acknowledge the mistake or ask me for a more appropriate recipe. It vanished from the web site, I hear, within 12 hours but still ... it was there. I did 2 or 3 interviews with national papers about it, and when I saw John McCain was in Chicago not long after this had happened for the NRA convention (I know what you're thinking but it's the National Restaurant Association) and I was there doing a press conference the same day, I thought maybe some of his people would arrange a meeting or a sit down with some tea or maybe a visit to my restaurant where the Passion Fruit Mousse is on the menu sometimes. Maybe come in the kitchen with me and I could actually teach her how to make it and then, as they say, make it three times for guests and it belongs to you!

So thank you to The Huffington Post for looking out for the busy, the overworked, and the overheated chefs in America.