It seems fitting that a variation of the quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal” has been attributed to a half-dozen different writers, poets, composers, critics and painters. Over the past century-plus, the original meaning has been flipped to commend plagiarists instead of condemning them—and it’s also probably helped more than one rip-off artist—or perhaps even a company selling pasta-based meal kits—justify their behavior.
According to the Daily Mail, food blogger and cookbook author Miguel Barclay was surprised to see a photo of his own £1 Crab Mac & Cheese on the Instagram page for Pasta Evangelists—and he was eight times as surprised that they wanted to charge £8.50 for each serving.
“[This is] probably the recipe that people talk to me the most about. Maybe because they can’t believe it’s only a quid,” he wrote on Instagram. “The trick is to use a spoonful of tinned crab meat, a tiny squeeze of mustard and a little bit of garlic. Anyway, this morning I randomly found this really posh pasta company was using this exact photo from my cookbook to sell their £8.50 Mac & Cheese! That’s an 850% markup!”
He said he was “humbled” by the fact that Pasta Evangelists thought his creation looked like it cost a lot more_but that doesn’t discount the fact that swiping someone’s photo is shady AF. (Also, it’s legally unsound, considering that the picture was published in Barclay’s first cookbook). In a now-deleted Instagram post, Pasta Evangelists described Barclay’s creation as “Our Gourmet Mac & Cheese” and “THE ultimate macaroni cheese.” The photo was also used to sell portions of its “Gourmet Mac & Cheese with Truffle & San Fran Sourdough Crumbs” on its website; that, too, seems to have been deleted. (It’s worth noting that Barclay’s recipe does not include truffles or sourdough crumbs—but it does call for canned crab meat and “a basic roux using [store-brand] supermarket ingredients.”)
Barclay did not contact Pasta Evangelists himself, but his followers sure did. That’s when the photos came down, and the company issued an apology. 'We apologise for using Miguel's image. This was an oversight and mistake on our part,” Alex Savelli, managing director of Pasta Evangelists, said. “As soon as we realised our mistake yesterday, we immediately took down the image from our social media pages and website [...] As a small business, we feel embarrassed to have made this sort of mistake and thank Miguel for his good humour in dealing with the mishap.”
Barclay does seem to be taking it well, jokingly referring to it as “Mac and Cheese-gate” on Instagram. And when the company said it wanted to make it up to Barclay and possibly work together, he immediately started thinking about how they could both “turn something bad into something good.” He currently makes ready-made meal boxes for a food bank in northwest London, but they can’t be refrigerated—at least not yet. He’s hoping that maybe Pasta Evangelists will let him take advantage of its equipment in order to make them more shelf-stable. “They would literally be repaying me a hundred times over,” he said on his Instagram story. “It was only a stupid photo, I literally didn’t even really care. This is going to be so cool.”
Yeah, that would be the coolest possible ending to this, and the best way to atone for steali– er, ACCIDENTALLY BORROWING someone else’s work.