Are you someone who has started a food truck, but hired someone who handled all of the cooking related responsibilities? If you’ve lost your food truck’s head chef you know there are problems that will arise requiring making some choices you’ve never considered. Although difficult, recipes can be copyrighted. Today we’ll discuss why a food truck chef employment contract may just be the protection you need.
Why It’s Important To Have A Chef Employment Contract In Place
Unfortunately copyrighting doesn’t prevent someone from using the same formula or recreating your food truck menu item. Typically, it only protects your unique methods of creating the food. So basically, you may not be able to keep someone from reusing your recipes at another food truck or restaurant down the street just by copyrighting your recipes.
In many cases, the chef may look at these recipes as their own. If they were created while working for you, does that make them your property?
A chef you’ve fired or quit may not feel the need to leave you with the recipes created while they worked for you. They could also go to work for one of your competitors and make the same food you serve just out of spite.
Not only are you left without a chef but also without recipes. On top of that you’ve got to go out and hire your next chef.
For these reasons, the next time you hire a chef you need to create a chef employment contract that protects your recipes and the quality and consistency of the food your food truck serves.
So what should be included in a good chef employment contract?
Here are what I consider the key ingredients for any chef employment contract. You may also want to include them in employment contracts for all your cooking staff or anyone that has access to your food truck trade secrets.
Key Ingredients For A Chef Employment Contract
The job description helps you define what is expected of an employee. It should be read and signed so you have proof that they are aware of their duties. Make sure it includes “creating and recording recipes owned exclusively by the food truck” as one of their duties.
You must clarify that any work done by the chef, recipes or procedures you’re your property remain your property upon termination of employment. They are being paid by you and thus their creations remains your property.
RELATED: Recipe Protection: Are Your Food Truck Recipes Really Your Own?
Conflict of interest
For key positions, you will want to state that while under your employment, they cannot hold another job or engage in any business or activity that conflicts with the interests of your food truck.
This prevents the employee from divulging any of your trade secrets to anyone else. These secrets include recipes, financial information, operations manuals, policies, vendor agreements, training practices, technology, food and service methods, and any and all records kept by the food truck business or any of its employees.
This states that you reserve the right to contact the employee’s new employer to divulge to them the terms of the employee’s employment contract with you.
The greatest risk of a good employee leaving is that they will go to a direct competitor and try to compete with you. A non-compete agreement helps you prevent them from doing just that. A non-compete should state that an employee cannot work for or own interest in a similar business in your area.
Just remember a non-compete cannot keep someone from making a living. You just need to prevent them from taking your recipes and competing against you with them.
Employee solicitation statement
This prevents an existing employee from soliciting other employees to work for them.
The Bottom Line
Protect your food truck business and use chef employment contracts and job descriptions. Make sure you have records and written recipes for all your menu items. Make copies of them so you can’t be held hostage by any one employee.
Have you run into a situation where you wished you had a chef employment contract? We’d love to hear your story. Share them in the comment section, our food truck forum or on social media. Twitter | Facebook
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be a general resource only and is not intended to be nor does it constitute legal advice.