Fraiche Bakery Café in Evanston -- home of what one magazine called an “addictive,” doughnut-like muffin known as the Cinnamon Bomb -- has been deprived of key recipes since a chef resigned two weeks ago, then returned to the café a few days later and made off with a pair of ring binders that contained the secrets of the restaurant’s signature bomb, acclaimed cupcakes and other baked goods, according to a lawsuit.
Fraiche owner Susan Davis Friedman filed a lawsuit against the chef today, five days after she discovered one of the recipe books had gone missing and a day after the chef informed a manager Fraiche would have to sue to get them back.
“If she wanted the recipes, why didn’t she make copies?” the chef is quoted as saying in an affidavit by a Fraiche manager.
The chef could not be reached for comment.
Friedman maintains the recipes are restaurant property, items developed by the chef and her assistants during the three and a half years since Fraiche opened in the site of the former Kim’s Bakery. After years of tweaks and adjustments, the Cinnamon Bomb rated No. 87 on the entertainment magazine TimeOut Chicago’s list of 100 Best Things We Ate In 2011, and Fraiche’s cupcakes were dubbed the best on the North Shore by a local lifestyle magazine.
“Why call this (admittedly tame-looking) pastry a ‘bomb’? Because this moist, cinnamon-dusted cake is unexpectedly addictive. And that’s dangerous,” read the TimeOut review.
The lawsuit states the recipes “were developed, assembled tested and honed over the course of 3 ½ years. That work cannot be readily reproduced. The damage to Fraiche’s goodwill from the inability to offer these items would be irreparable because it cannot be measured in money damages.”
Benson Friedman, Susan Davis Friedman’s husband and attorney, said Tuesday the recipes clearly are property of Fraiche, much as the work done while on the clock of a chemist or engineer would belong to his employer. And, he points out, the chef signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Friedman said Fraiche, 815 Noyes St. rotates its baked goods menu, but said he hopes to have the recipes back after a court hearing later this week.
“There will always be good (items) there. There are always new and innovative things,” Friedman said. “Recipes are important pieces of property that restaurants maintain.”