The case of Mr. Chow v. Philippe has taken an intriguing turn: Mr. Chow has now amended its lawsuit after an incident lawyers say amounts to corporate espionage. They allege that a Philippe operative (shown here in surveillance-camera footage) entered the kitchen of Mr. Chow Miami posing as a chef, and acted totally sketchy during a staff meeting. Mr. Chow’s lawyer, Alan Kluger, has this to say: “This incident further reinforces our suspicion of the deceptive practices and lengths the defendants will go to misrepresent themselves. It’s not enough that they’ve tried to steal our signature dishes, but now they appear to be trying to update their menu with new ideas from our kitchen.” Kluger is adding counts of civil trespass and unfair competition by corporate espionage to his list of complaints about Philippe — his amendment to the lawsuit, below, tells the story of the incident. Great summer reading.
78. On Tuesday, July 28, 2009, Plaintiffs reported to the Miami Beach Police Department an unauthorized entry to the MR CHOW Restaurant on Miami Beach, and covert and other surveillance activity of an individual who is believed to be an agent or is otherwise acting in concert with one or more of the Defendants in this action.
79. As reported to the Miami Beach Police and as recorded on surveillance camera images at the MR CHOW Restaurant, on about July 28, 2009, an Asian male disguised in a chef’s jacket entered the premises of the MR CHOW Restaurant without authorization and proceeded into the MR CHOW kitchen. At the time the MR CHOW chefs were being educated and updated in the treasure chest of MR CHOW’s techniques, processes, and other trade secrets in anticipation of the imminent opening of the Restaurant.
80. Upon entering the kitchen the individual disguised as a chef engaged in a close inspection of the non-public and confidential operations of the MR CHOW kitchen. At one point a chef asked him who he was, and he said he was looking for a MR CHOW chef that he identified by name but who was in not the kitchen at the time. While waiting for that chef to return, the individual continued to survey all the activity of the kitchen closely and with great interest. The individual had a cell phone which appeared capable of taking photos and video, and also appeared to be in communication with others while in the MR CHOW kitchen without authorization. All of this was captured on the surveillance video and has been preserved as material evidence.
81. The chef named by the intruder, an executive chef with MR CHOW Restaurants who first joined Mr. Chow and the original MR CHOW restaurant in London in 1968, finally returned to the kitchen. This executive chef was at the new MR CHOW Restaurant on Miami Beach for the purpose of educating and updating the new chefs from China in preparation for the opening of the new Restaurant. When this executive chef entered the kitchen area, the individual addressed him by name. The executive chef was at first puzzled, and then recognized the individual as an acquaintance from over 40 years ago.
82. Seeing his chef’s uniform, the executive chef inquired of the individual, “where are you working?”, and the individual stated “oh no, I’m 65 and retired.” This prompted the chef to ask, “then how come you’re wearing a chef’s jacket?” The individual responded he was wearing the jacket in order to pass “incognito” and so that “your boss will not notice” his presence. The chef quickly deduced and assumed that the individual had been sent there for the sole purpose of spying on behalf of the neighboring Defendant restaurant. At that moment he immediately directed the individual to leave and personally escorted him from premises.
83. Based upon this and other information, Plaintiffs reasonably and in good faith understand the individual to be an agent of Defendants and engaged in corporate espionage and surveillance, together with others not yet identified. Such conduct is still ongoing and is in conjunction with other similar activities, to obtain the latest and most current processes, techniques, know-how and other trade secrets and valuable confidential information regarding the operations of MR CHOW. This conduct was particularly directed to MR CHOW at the Miami Beach location on the eve of the opening of that Restaurant.