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Last year was a rough one for chef Frederik de Pue. His Penn Quarter restaurant and market Menu MBK closed in October less than a year after he’d transformed it from Azur, his failed seafood restaurant. Then in December, he split as chef from his Shaw restaurant Table.
But it appears the chef’s troubles go even deeper. In a complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court on Dec. 22, De Pue’s business partners in Azur and Menu MBK accuses him of improperly taking money and alcohol from the restaurants. The suit was filed by Bord’Eau LLC, whose two members include Seasons Interests LLC and De Pue, LLC. (It’s unclear exactly what individual or individuals are behind Seasons Interests.)
The lawsuit alleges that the chef removed beverages, including alcohol, “reasonably believed to be of a value of not less than $10,000” in the fall of 2014. It also alleges that he took cash from bank deposits that were made on behalf of Bord’Eau, took money from Bord’Eau accounts, and used these funds to pay obligations for his 42 Degrees Catering business and staff at another restaurant. The lawsuit also alleges that De Pue wrongfully used a portion of staff gratuities for other purposes.
De Pue says the allegations are “definitely not accurate” but declined to comment further. “It’s all lawyers now, and unfortunately, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on that currently,” he says.
Lawyers for the plaintiff declined to comment.
De Pue says the lawsuit is the reason why he is no longer chef at Table, although he remains a co-owner in the business. Chef Patrick Robinson, De Pue’s chef de cuisine, has since taken over the kitchen.
“If you have somebody suing you in one business, I think it’s hard to work with that same person in the other business that you own together,” De Pue says.
Read the full lawsuit below.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery