The Year in Food 2007

Recipe for a Lawsuit

Chefs are always copping each other’s styles, borrowing techniques and even entire dishes to spawn culinary movements. But Rebecca Charles, owner of NYC’s Pearl Oyster Bar, decided her former sous-chef Ed McFarland had gone too far when he allegedly took not only her mom’s Caesar salad recipe to his new seafood joint, but also Pearl’s entire design, down to the seat cushions. She retaliated with a lawsuit last June, which if decided in her favor could open the door for future intellectual-property-theft complaints against restaurants. Like Homaro Cantu’s trademarked edible menus, Charles’s case signals just how serious a business food has become. —Lessley Anderson