Did Food Network chef plagiarize her recipes?

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By Vidya Rao

A pastry chef is feeling more heat in the kitchen than usual in light of allegations that the desserts on her Food Network show were actually based on recipes from other celebrity chefs.

Sources tell the New York Post that Anne Thornton, host of “Dessert First,” was fired when execs discovered similarities between her recipes and those of Martha Stewart and “Barefoot Contessa” Ina Garten.

“The network was very concerned because many of her recipes were close — with only a few minor edits — to other chefs’ recipes,” an unnamed source told the Post, adding, “The network discovered the similarities during the second season of the show.”

But a Food Network spokeswoman denied that plagiarism was an issue in the cancellation of Thornton’s show, which began in October 2010. "It's very unfortunate that information is misrepresented," she told TODAY.com. "Anne Thornton's 'Dessert First' was not renewed for a third season based on the show's performance."

The paper cites Thornton’s Luscious Lemon Squares, which it says is reminiscent of a 1999 Ina Garten recipe, and her Mascarpone-Stuffed French toast, which is allegedly similar to one published in the book “The Essence of Chocolate.”

Thornton, who has appeared on TODAY for Fourth of July and Halloween sweet treats segments, told the Post that this was the first she’s heard of these allegations.

“This is all news to me,” she said. “I get inspiration from all my heroes. You take what you learn from them and then you riff on that. As for lemon squares, there’s only so many ways you can make them, so of course there will be similarities.”