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Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld Sued by Author of The Sneaky Chef

The Sneaky Chef Sues the Seinfelds

I don't know if you've been paying attention to the war of the crafty cookbook moms, but things between Jerry Seinfeld's wife Jessica, author of Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, and Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies For Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals, have really escalated. Yesterday, Lapine formally sued the famous couple for defamation and plagiarism.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, it pretty much boils down to this: While Lapine was touring her book in May, she learned about Seinfeld's similar book. She warned them of the similarities, but Jessica published anyways. Lapine claimed plagiarism. Jessica denied it. Jerry made fun of Lapine on Letterman, and it's been a cookbook war ever since.

To be honest, I'm not actually sure what to think about the whole thing. I can see how both of these books were made. Tricking kids into eating healthier food is a hot topic at the moment, and I think the cookbook shelf is big enough for two books with similar subjects. After all, if a lawsuit came out every time there was a cookbook that was "too similar" to another cookbook, wouldn't that mean there would only be one baking book? One quick-suppers book? One book on bbq?

So what do you guys think? Does this lawsuit have any merit, or is Lapine trying to drum up publicity for her own book?

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merchi merchi 9 years
I've read all the above comments, have Mrs. Chase-Lapine's book, have used her recipes, and only today learned of the lawsuit. I very much like the Sneaky Chef, and read the first several chapters of the book before trying any recipes...In all honesty, I have to say I have only glanced at the other book. I just wanted to say to regarding those posting above that "parents should just feed children the veggies" - do you even have children?? If you did, you would know this is not always a done deal. What Mrs. Lapine's says in her book is that by adding veggies to meals kids already loves changes their tastebuds (well, she used better lingo.) I found this article today: http://healthycooking.suite101.com/article.cfm/sneaky_chef_cookbook_review and wanted to quote a bit of it here: "...critics may argue that The Sneaky Chef doesn't get kids to appreciate vegetables in their purest form. Those critics obviously don't have children (or if they do, their kids are fully grown). Yes, in a perfect world, 15 introductions of cauliflower prepared in a variety of ways would get a kid to like it. In the real world, though, that doesn't always happen. Sure, keep introducing cauliflower and all the other vegetables you want your kids to like. But while they're feeding those vegetables to the dog, you can rest easy knowing that they're still getting a good meal if you feed them the Sneaky recipes. They'll like what they're eating, and you can relax." This article also says the cookbook "...isn't a terrific solution for parents of older children whose palates are already used to macaroni and cheese from the yellow box and chicken nuggets from McDonald's. These kids will likely detect the difference in flavor." However, I have to disagree here, because I am the mother of 8 children, ages 21 all the way down to 4, and my teenagers are enjoying the new recipes too! Blessings! merchi
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
I'm sure it would be less of an issue if they weren't titled so similarly.
SeekerMommy SeekerMommy 9 years
jaberella, I love what you had to say! I have been relatively fortunate that my family likes veggies (but just certain ones) but I have relatives that do not and it is a trial for them! I have Deceptively Delicious and think it is great. I have ordered The Sneaky Chef on Amazon and very much look forward to getting it. In the meantime, I have downloaded recipes and articles of Missy's and am VERY impressed! I am glad that I have two great resources to add the additonal nutrition to our meals. Especially when we are supposed to get 5 serings a day of veggies alone into ourselves when we work full time and barely have time to prepare a decent meal. I am not impressed with Jerry's comments...
jaberella jaberella 9 years
I wanted to comment on two points being brought up here. 1) the "issue" of hiding healthy food in our kid's meals. As the Mom of a very picky 3 year old I will tell you that you don't just "feed them butternut squash" so they will learn to eat it ~eye roll~ you can sure as heck try but my daughter won't even let me put anything she doesn't want ON HER PLATE. I can say how yummy something is 1000 times and she won't try it. I can moan sensually about how amazing it tastes and ask her to try it, I can bribe her by saying she can have a treat after the meal if she just PUTS THE THING IN HER MOUTH and it won't work. My husband and I serve veggies at every meal and 9 out of 10 times she won't eat them. If I dump a pound of grated cheese on it she MAY have some but often not. So before you all get on your high horse about how it's the parents fault for not setting healthy habits and all that just remember that kids are little people and they have opinions and choices and if hiding healthy food helps them to get nutrients to help them grow then I say YAY! That doesn't mean one should give up trying to get kids to eat good things, I would still offer them during the same meal where you hid some but at least if they say no you have back up! As for the second point of the similarities being nonsense just consider that Ms. Lapine did extensive research on her recipes for years before publishing her book. Read this quote from the prnewswire article on this subject (http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/01-07-2008/0004732108&EDATE=) "The lawsuit also points out that Ms. Lapine is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine, is on the faculty of the New School and has extensive experience in child nutrition. She also serves on the Children's Advisory Council of Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, where "The Sneaky Chef" recipes are used with pediatric patients. The lawsuit also notes that Ms. Lapine began researching methods for getting children to eat healthier foods five years before her book came out. She conducted numerous taste tests, focus groups and interviews, consulting extensively with leading nutritionists, pediatricians and chefs." So yeah, if I were her I'd be angry about it. When deciding which of the two books to purchase to try with my toddler I went for the Sneaky Chef, the one who created all the recipes.
MissEnglish07 MissEnglish07 9 years
Mmm... can't speak on the lawsuit issue, although I would imagine it is hard to argue plagiarism over recipes. But that has been spoken on before. What I question is the concept behind the book, even beyond "sneaking veggies"... That is promoting a completely dishonest worldview to children, making the parents the liars, and couching something that is good in bad terms. It just seems completely contradictory, and while I am not sure that they considered the philosophical questions behind this, is just seems suspect to me. Why try to hide something that is good by being deceitful? Not only is there a problem with the thinking, but you run into some ethical issues, no matter how trivial you think a cookbook to be. It is promoting somewhat of an "end justifies the means" thought, and I am not sure we should be promoting that idea to children. Anyway. My two cents are about spent.
Marci Marci 9 years
CJaneTyp - yes, I would expect my husband to defend me, but have you heard or read any of Jerry Seinfeld's comments? Read wackdoodle's comment and maybe you'll understand what my issue is. He's not making jokes about it. He's downright nasty. I'd be embarrassed if my husband behaved that way on my behalf. He's slandering Lapine, and he's a broken record on the topic when it's now a legal issue. It's time for him to stop talking about it and let the lawyers handle it. As the old saying goes: He doth protest too much.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i almost wonder if the other woman is doing this to make sure that people read her book and buy it - not for the point that it's too similar. to the point in the article - there are soo many books that have the EXACT same recipes - and no one freaks out about that. the topic of their books is something that's been on TV and all that - it's not like one of them unlocked a secret overnight
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Redegg you bought up every point I was going to make-and better than I could ever do. Good job! I was really taken-aback when Jerry went on Letterman and slandered Lapine calling her outlandish things. I thought geez this man is incredible wealthy doesn't he have an attorney on retainer as a comedian because he just stepped in a pile of hot crap of his on making. I recall even Letterman looked at him like "Are you nuts? That's slander." And David tried to change the subject but Jerry went on. Then Jerry went on another show and said the same things not in humor but in malice. And indeed he will paying for his malice. As far as Jessica I keep wondering if now she's gonna start making bathsuits and lingerie to try to copy Shoshana. I honestly do not believe Mrs Seinfeld sets foot in her highly styled beautiful kitchen. She may not even know where it is the their vast multi-thousand square foot NY apartment. She's very fortunate.
PrincessTracy PrincessTracy 9 years
PUBLICITY!!!!! It's all publicity for her....no one knew who she was until now and now her book is probably flying off shelves and people are Googling her name... Sick...
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
I think that this is probably killing two birds with one stone for Lapine-- get the (legal) satisfaction that she believes she deserves and get some PR at the same time. But I do think that although cookbooks are all basically similar, that this would be a case of Jessica Seinfeld trying to use her husband's celebrity to scare off Lapine. She does not deserve to profit off these books(although I believe proceeds are being donated to charity?? they better be!) since they were not her ideas. I hope that the defamation suit does follow through because Jerry Seinfeld and his wife are using their celebrity clout to paint Ms. Lapine as the bad person in all of this, while they should be pointing the finger back at themselves.
AmberHoney AmberHoney 9 years
Thank goodness I don't have kids to feed. My hubby loves his veggies.
lexichloe lexichloe 9 years
I don't know enough facts to make a decision, but I do agree that it's very easy these days to find similarities in any form of art.
bobcatsteph3 bobcatsteph3 9 years
I agree the Seinfeld's aren't hurting for cash, so I don't think Jessica would've stolen anything to make a profit she certainly doesn't need. I think Jerry is a comic, and he thinks this is all frivalous so he makes fun of the situation as a way to deal with the questions he's asked. Lastly, I find it highly suspicious that Jerry is also part of the lawsuit, knowing that his assets far outweigh his wife's alone. I would've given the other author a lot more credit if she just went after Jessica, but now I think she's money hungry simply because she isn't famous and that's just the breaks, there are thousands of cookbooks on the same topics as others have said and if you have a more popular name/brand you're obviously going to generate more attention to your product.
dootsie dootsie 9 years
Frankly, it's not uncommon for publishers to pick up extremely similar books at the same time, in hopes of one-upping competitors. They get tips that something is getting a lot of press, so they rush to publish something quite similar in order to get in on the wave of interest in the subject.
ChapstickAddict ChapstickAddict 9 years
From what I've heard, the plagiarism claims are based more on the narrative portions of the book than the recipes. For instance, the introductions to both books are worded nearly exactly the same. Also, Jerry went a bit beyond defending his wife and moved well into personally attacking Lapine with his stalker comments.
CJaneTyp CJaneTyp 9 years
Also for what it's worth, a lot of people seem to think that The Sneaky Chef's recipes are better than Jessica's, so that lady might not want to publicize how similar the books are but rather that her recipes are a simpler, tastier version of the same concept!
CJaneTyp CJaneTyp 9 years
Marci... wouldn't you expect your husband to defend you? Jessica's just happens to be famous. Is that fair? That's life. I have doubts about this whole thing because 1) I think that Jessica Seinfeld has no reason on earth to copy anyone's anything when she's rich as hell with her own money plus Jerry's, 2) the recipes are really basic and exist in similar forms in MANY different books about pureeing baby food, and 3) she did not necessarily claim that they were original recipes, she wrote a book about her own experiences and methods of putting veg. in her kids food to give them maximum nutrition, in a format that she herself found useful (referring to the style of the book itself). In terms of being sneaky, Jessica makes a point of also placing the vegetables in natural form on the kids plates, to emphasize the importance of eating the vegetables and make it clear that they must be eaten even if they are hidden in the food. Her point was not to necessarily HIDE vegetables but to add MORE nutrition to the kids diets. Not defending anyone, just saying what I know from a few interviews I've read and seen, plus my opinion. For all I know she stole the whole thing :)
vapidintuition vapidintuition 9 years
Kickass. I just ordered a copy of "deceptively delicious" so I'll own one before they pull them from print! hahaha.. I agree about getting kids to eat veggies without trying to sneak them or be deceptive. I personally am hoping to use some of the recipes to "healthy up" some of my OWN meals. Who knows, I might actually like it. ...Also, its *quite* a coincidence about these books. Personally, I'm planning on owning both books (plus the second one by the original author) because its a pretty cool idea.
tkoblondee tkoblondee 9 years
"And I agree with everyone who feels we should really just try our best to get kids to eat vegetables in their natural form! Not be sneaky or deceptive" AMEN!
redegg redegg 9 years
I've been following this story and this is what I have read over the last couple of months: 1. Lapine is former publisher of Eating Well mag., Jessica is not a chef 2. Lapine took her book to same publisher as Jessica in April and they would not publish it so she published with someone else in April. Then they published Jessica's around September 3. Several of Jessica's recipes are exactly the same and very odd, such as avocado in brownies 4. Seinfeld made fun of Lapine likening her name to that of a serial killer and saying she was a stalker when she had not made any public statements that were defamatory against the Seinfelds 5. Jessica's cover was originally very similar to Lapines and they had to switch it to where the carrots were on the table instead of behind her back And I agree with everyone who feels we should really just try our best to get kids to eat vegetables in their natural form! Not be sneaky or deceptive.
verily verily 9 years
I think it's silly. Yes, it's quite suspicious that it came out not long after her book, but there are millions of books on every subject. There are plenty of books on making kids eat healthy too!
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
I could give a rat's patootie about the lawsuit. I'm more concerned with (as legalbeagle also points out) why we are 'sneaking' veggies into our kids diets. We are teaching them to NOT like vegetables. If we don't expose our kids to squash, spinach, and whatever else they are sneaking into other foods, how will they learn to incorporate them into their diets as adults. Then we wonder why our kids eat like poo when they get older. We have to set the RIGHT example for them NOW. Both books should be banned (no, not really I don't believe in banning books...but you get my point)!
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
I think the lawsuit is crap. Missy (of The Sneaky Chef) is just bitter because her book wasn't getting any PR UNTIL Jessica Seinfeld's book came out. I don't think she stands a chance at winning anything when it comes to the "plagiarism" portion. I mean, first of all, recipes are nearly impossible to copyright... And, to be honest, the recipes in Seinfeld's book ARE DIFFERENT. They're not EXACTLY the same. Plus, I wouldn't want to try to battle the powerhouse that is Jerry Seinfeld. He and his wife have a lot of money. If there's anyone she should be suing, it should be Harper Collins for NOT publishing her book, but publishing the Seinfeld book. Intersting to note though... When Missy took the book to Harper Collins to try to get it publiched (back in 2006), they told her "We have to pass because we ALREADY HAVE A BOOK LIKE THAT COMING OUT." So just because Missy's book came out 6 months before, that DOES NOT MEAN IT WAS "IN THE WORKS" WAY BEFORE SEINFELD'S BOOK. Plus, Missy's book has leached plenty of PR because of this whole controversy. So as far as I'm concerned, the b%&ch should shut her trap.
selenasuha selenasuha 9 years
I don't know enough of this to really take a side, but I know that Jessica worked in PR before. I kind of get the feeling that she just knew she could market and "sell" it better and went for it assuming she would get away with it. I am positive that they researched the laws regarding this BEFORE publishing. You know they have major attorneys working for them. Does anyone know if Jessica Seinfeld's book profits are for charity? That would make a difference to me. The Seinfelds have so much money it really irks me to think that she is doing this book for profit rather than making use of it to promote nutrition for children or provide for those in need.
GigglyGirl GigglyGirl 9 years
I'm not sure about the history here, but is Lapine a chef? Is Jerry Seinfeld's wife? If I were a chef and worked hard to make a cookbook using my body of knowledge collected over years of hard work and worked hard to get someone to take notice and publish it, and a celebrity wife used simply her last name to get a book published that was sooo similar to mine, I might be tempted to sue. But if Ms. Seinfeld is a chef the point is almost moot, I suppose.
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