Why doesn't Chef use my default attributes in my development environment?

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http://serverfault.com – I inherited our company's Chef repository and I'm learning as I go. One issue that I've found a workaround for (but would like to understand or avoid if possible) is that attribute defaults specified in cookbooks are not available to nodes in my development environment. So to get these things that work fine in production to run in development, I have to make a change like so: Works in production default[:webservices][:debug] = "False" default[:webservices][:template_debug] = "False" Works in development set[:webservices][:debug] = "False" set[:webservices][:template_debug] = "False" Goi (HowTos)