I don't agree that this question should have been closed:


Yes it's a recipe request- however I thought that asking about recipe reproduction was explicitly allowed. Has this changed?

I did a search for cholula sauce recipes. The first page of results has

  • The cholula company page describing the product
  • A lot of forums where people ask for the recipe with no good responses
  • This closed question with no answer half-way down the first page of results.

This question has a specific answer and one that is not quickly found.

Additionally- I also want to know how to make the stuff.

Is there some change in the wording that would make people feel more comfortable with the question?

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure why you consider this to be "reproduction" - it's as clear-cut a recipe request as they get.

Please refer to Robert Cartaino's original entry on "restaurant mimicry":

Are restaurant mimicry questions allowed?

This question straddles right on the very edge of the on-topic side of the distinction I am trying to describe (above).

Someone can ask "What is the recipe for Red Lobster's biscuits?" (forget for a moment that no one knows the correct answer. irrelevant). But what they really should be asking is what makes them taste exactly that way. It's not an indiscriminate question when the criteria is so specific. The answer is very specific and, possibly, educational. As a recipe request, it's a poorly worded question. I would rather see it asked as "How do I get my biscuits to take more like Red Lobster's?" But that's a weird semantic argument that I hope people can see through. The important distinction is, are the answers going to be the work of someone's expertise in that area, or are the answers just the product of an indiscriminate shout-out poll?

I thought we had documented guidelines for restaurant mimicry (AKA recipe recreation) questions but I can't seem to find any such thing. So let me recount from memory.

Restaurant mimicry/recipe recreation questions are expected to have the following attributes:

  • A reference to the restaurant or brand (which in this case we have);
  • A clear description of the desired result (what's special about the above);
  • Some evidence of prior homework being done and a description of what's missing or what failed in the original attempt ("I tried X recipe but it's not hot enough").

The last two points are crucial. Everybody's going to have their own perception of what makes a Five Guys hamburger unique; if you just ask for the recipe, then you might as well have made a generic request for hamburger recipes.

As always, the devil's in the details - or in this case, the lack thereof.

  • Five Guys is in Canada too?
    – hobodave
    Apr 30, 2011 at 15:33
  • @hobodave: I was just there the other day, I guess that's why I thought of it.
    – Aaronut
    Apr 30, 2011 at 15:43
  • Excellent- I also looked for the rules about restaurant mimicry and couldn't find it. This makes sense. May 1, 2011 at 1:13
  • You folks have been around for what? 9 months? You've got a little over 3000 questions and less than 5k users (mostly inactive). Terrible numbers and the above explains it. WAY too many rules and WAY too much moderation. I understand the goal of having quality questions and answers. Detailed rules are a poor substitute for good judgement. The answer to the Cholula recipe would be interesting and useful to even pro chefs and it's unavailable anywhere else on the net. I'd like to see this site successful. Won't get my hopes up until the moderation style lightens up. May 3, 2011 at 15:29
  • 1
    From A Theory of Moderation: "But what do community moderators do? The short answer is, as little as possible!" May 3, 2011 at 15:30
  • 3
    @Todd: "Good judgment", much like "common sense", is little more than a weasel word used by someone who isn't prepared to defend a claim with logic or evidence. It's nice that you consider yourself such an authority on everything, based on an analysis of your answers and comments thus far, but all of us are pretty secure in the way the site is run. Don't bother quoting RC to me; aside from the fact that I've had countless hours of dialogue with him and the team, he was also one of the strongest advocates against recipe requests.
    – Aaronut
    May 3, 2011 at 15:36
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    Anyway @Todd, if you don't like it you're welcome to leave. Frankly, I normally try to be more welcoming, but this is far too much drama from somebody who's been registered for all of 4 days.
    – Aaronut
    May 3, 2011 at 15:38
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    @Aaronut, in four days I already have enough of a reputation to be on your first page of users. I agree recipe requests in general would be bad for the site. Take or leave my advice about the heavy moderation style. I'd sincerely like to see the site be successful and my advice is given in that spirit. May 3, 2011 at 15:47
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    @Aaronut, hesitated to write this, because I don't want to add to the "drama", but the cheap jab about "authority on everything" is kind of what I'm talking about. I've put a lot of work into my answers and I've been careful to say when I don't have experience with something. My reputation should reflect that? Then you continue by putting yourself above me by showing what an insider with RC you are. Sometimes success means being less secure about what you are doing and more willing to listen. I won't bother you with more drama after this comment. May 3, 2011 at 16:13
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    @Todd: The "authority on everything" comment relates to your self-proclaimed authority on issues such as internet demographics, how to run a site and what professional chefs are interested in. For future reference, if you want your "advice" to be taken seriously then you might want to consider offering it in a less belligerent and abrasive tone.
    – Aaronut
    May 3, 2011 at 19:35
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    @Aaronut I apologize if I came off as belligerent or abrasive, it wasn't intended that way. It's not really self proclaimed. I own a digital agency and am chairman of a 2000 strong developer's group. I also used to be a professional chef. But that's not what I'm giving advice on. I'm sincerely trying to point out a first user's impression of what the moderation feels like. It's just one opinion, but maybe other people feel that way too. My $0.02. May 3, 2011 at 20:04

Rather than just complaining about the overly complex rules, I thought I would be constructive and offer a simpler alternative with 1 rule: It's a specific restaurant or brand and the recipe is hard to find. All the chefs I know love deconstructing or reverse engineering recipes, not just for the challenge but it's a great way to demonstrate your tasting skills and knowledge of food.

My reasoning behind why the other rules are not needed (besides simple being better if it still accomplishes the same goal):

  • A clear description of the desired result (what's special about the above).

As already stated by @Aaronut "Everybody's going to have their own perception of what makes a Five Guys hamburger unique". This applies just as much to the OP. The OP may not even be qualified to describe what makes it unique or have any idea of how to put it into words. What I like about Marmite is, well, it tastes like Marmite.

  • Some evidence of prior homework being done and a description of what's missing or what failed in the original attempt ("I tried X recipe but it's not hot enough").

The whole idea of reaching out to experts first is to avoid the failed attempts. IMHO, what we should really be looking for is the willingness to try the suggested answers and report back to the community. Something you can't determine when the question is initially posted.

Also, in the original discussion about restaurant mimicry we have this Q&A:

@Robert - ok I see where you're coming from. Having thought about this a bit more, endless questions for biscuit and cake recipes would be a bad thing. I agree, more targeted questions pertaining to a recipe should be encouraged. That said, how about if a particular recipe was hard to come by, for example if preparing a dish by Carême or Escoffier? I think that should be fine? – Kev Jul 12 '10 at 21:34

Well that would make sense... since asking about an Escoffier recipe would perforce mean talking about actual techniques used in his time. – daniel Jul 18 '10 at 8:58

The Cholula recipe is hard to come by.

Aren't the quality of the answers just as important as the question? If someone posts a recipe request for a hard to come by recipe and the answer is just a recipe and there is no further discussion after a reasonable amount of time, then by all means close the question. Likewise if no one answers within a reasonable time. The community itself decided the question wasn't phrased in way that was interesting enough, rather than a moderator stepping in ahead of time.

If instead, the question generates interesting discussions about technique and reverse engineering the recipe, and the community works together to find a definitive answer then wouldn't that be a good thing, regardless of how the question is phrased?

As it is now, the question gets closed before that good thing ever gets a chance to happen.

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