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Raleigh restaurant Guasaca claims former head chef stole recipe book

December 7, 2018

Guasaca

The former head chef of Guasaca restaurant is being accused of stealing the company’s recipe book.

Real Food Central HJO Concept, which is the parent company of Guasaca, filed a complaint and motion for a temporary restraining order against Jose Luis Alvarez Corobo, As head chef, Corobo, who is referred to as Alvarez in the lawsuit, had possession of a hard copy of the restaurant’s recipe book.

Alvarez resigned from the company via his lawyer on Nov. 16, according to the complaint filed in the North Carolina Business Court. Prior to his resignation, Alvarez returned an electronic copy of the company’s recipe book. Guasaca claims that the copy provided was “incomplete, inaccurate, not current and lacked key recipes essential to the Guasaca menu.” Guasaca claims some of the recipes provided were different from those Alvarez regularly prepared and resulted in the items tasting different than the original product.

The suit alleges that Alvarez has refused Guasaca’s requests for him to return the hard copy of the restaurant’s recipe book and requests for him to provide “writings that detail the unwritten and proprietary methods and techniques for cooking and food preparation” that he has used.

Guasaca hired Alvarez in 2011 to be the head chef of its restaurants. Prior to that, the company had flown Alvarez from Venezuela to Raleigh several times for recipe development.

Guasaca paid for his expenses and hired an immigration lawyer to help Alvarez get citizenship. Alvarez was also a minority-interest owner of the company.

Guasaca claims it is in immediate danger of losing customers due to “changes in food quality, taste and end-product menu items” and will therefore lose revenue. The complaint accuses Alvarez of being in breach of contract for not returning the recipe book, in addition to misappropriation of the company’s trade secrets contained in the book.

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“Alvarez’s misappropriation of trade secrets was done intentionally, maliciously, willfully in order to inequitably disadvantage Guasaca and likely obtain commercial profit for himself,” according to the complaint.

Alvarez’s lawyer told WRAL he plans on filing a response to the complaint sometime next week.

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