The collaboration between Il Lazzarone/Komatsu owner Erik Borger and West, creator of the pop-up, Asian fusion concept Kusshi, hit a snag recently and the chefs have decided to part company.
West posted the news on his Kusshi Facebook page today. He still plans to honor the prior commitments he has made through the summer, including events with Vox Vineyards, Sporting KC, Cultivate KC and Green Dirt Farm.
When reached by phone, both West and Borger cited creative differences for the split.
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“I never got a legal document as to my role as an owner,” West said. “Then I realized I had no menu control … my understanding was I got to do what I wanted to do in the kitchen.”
West, who graduated from Shawnee Mission’s Broadmoor Technical Center and attended Johnson & Wales in Denver on a full-tuition scholarship, was chef de cuisine at Bluestem under James Beard award-winner Colby Garrelts shortly before he launched Kusshi last summer.
“We’re both very passionate about food and didn’t see eye to eye as far as menu authenticity,” said Borger, who has built his reputation on regional authenticity with two certified Neapolitan pizzerias in River Market and St. Joseph. “His concept was more of a fusion, and I’m about authenticity. If the food is from a specific region of Japan, the ingredients and recipes need to reflect that daily life. That’s my thing.”
Borger will take over the chef duties at Komatsu and is continuing with plans to open a private dining facility featuring 12- to 18- course meals shortly afterward.
Jill Wendholt Silva is a James Beard award-winning food editor, restaurant critic and blog curator. Reach her on Twitter @kcstarfood and @chowtownkc and Instagram @jillwsilva and @chowtownkc.