I am always delighted when a diner at Bloodroot tries a new dish which is not in our cookbooks, and would like to make it at home. Sometimes it is printed in one of our calendars, and I fetch that copy from the kitchen for them to photograph.
I consider it an honor for someone to want to reproduce what we are doing. Of course I want them to! Perhaps they will figure out some new seasoning or procedure and come back and tell me. Sometimes they bring one of their own treasured recipes---it is a win-win situation. At Bloodroot, our purpose is to serve the very best vegetarian food, but that's impossible. I can update a recipe and make it better, but surely someone else, or one of us can make it better again. There is never best! There can always be improvement, and isn't that wonderful?
So you can imagine how I feel about restaurants, particularly vegetarian or health restaurants, refusing to share their secrets. What a poverty of spirit, to think that once a recipe is known, it will be a disaster. Like what? The customer will open her own place and take away all this restaurant's diners? Or will she no longer patronize the stingy restaurant since she can reproduce her favorite dish at home? How ridiculous! And how sad.
It has always seemed to me that the essence of what we do is to further the making of life (and dining) better for us all. Sharing information is how to do it. This is particularly true for new vegans, or even for folks like me, who have made vegan desserts and entrees for 37 years and am now vastly broadening my horizons with recipes for vegan cheese and creams, that one of my customers, Florrie, introduced to me. I want everyone else to know how to do this, if they want to.
Usually I can figure out what is in most dishes, but sometimes I can't and I ask.
The better restaurant chefs tell me. Sometimes I troll the internet, and sometimes I think, why bother. Keep your secrets, I prefer to share mine.