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Chris Becker, Baltimore chef and former Bagby Restaurant Group CEO, dies

A Baltimore chef and the former CEO of Bagby Restaurant Group has died, according to a Towson funeral home.

Chris Becker was 35. His cause of death was not immediately available.

Becker led Bagby Restaurant Group, which owns Cunningham’s in Towson, from 2014 to January 2017.

His death followed a year of legal turmoil. Last April, Bagby filed a civil lawsuit against Becker, alleging Becker stole from the company, committed fraud and misappropriated company trade secrets. Months later, he was indicted on burglary, theft and property destruction charges for allegedly breaking into the company’s offices.

His wife, Alison Bychek Becker, said in a Facebook post: “My great love, who did everything at full speed ahead and loved more fiercely than anyone I have ever known, has passed on. Chris Becker gave me two beautiful, smart, sweet girls and a lifetime of happy memories. I promise we will keep sharing about your love for family, your passion for food, and your kind heart.”

Bychek Becker could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

Friends and former coworkers remembered Becker as a skilled and “complicated” individual.

“Chris was an incredibly talented individual, both in and out of the kitchen,” friend and coworker Dave Seel wrote in a Facebook message to The Baltimore Sun. “Working with him for four years at the Bagby Restaurant Group was a formative period in my time in my career and in Baltimore. Chris challenged me to do good work and I'll always appreciate that about him.”

“Chris was a complicated person,” said Tim Riley, who also worked with Becker at the Bagby Restaurant Group. “He was incredibly passionate about what he did … [not only] cooking but restaurants and business in general. He’ll surely be missed.”

Owned by David Smith, chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Bagby Restaurant Group previously owned and operated Harbor East restaurants including Bagby Pizza Co., Ten Ten American Bistro and Fleet Street Kitchen. The group closed its three Bagby Pizza Co. locations within the past year, and sold Ten Ten and Fleet Street Kitchen to Atlas Restaurant Group, which transformed them to Tagliata and the Elk Room last year.

Becker was arrested in July 2017 after employees identified him wearing a wig in a surveillance video from the alleged break-in at their Towson offices, according to charging documents. He was released the same day after posting bail.

Both the civil and criminal cases against Becker were ongoing. A trial for the criminal charges was scheduled for September.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters.

A visitation will be held 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home at 6500 York Road in Towson. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for memorial contributions to Operation Smile, a Virginia Beach, Va.-based organization that serves children with cleft palates.

Baltimore Sun reporters Sarah Meehan and Wesley Case contributed to this article.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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