Two white women closed down their pop-up burrito shop in Portland, Oregon after receiving public backlash for cultural appropriation and allegations that they stole their recipes from Mexico.
Owners Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly shut down their shop just a week after being featured on the alternative weekly newspaper Willamette Weekly, where they said that their Mexican-inspired dishes were created by picking “the brains of every tortilla lady there [Puerto Nuevo, Mexico] in the worst broken Spanish ever.”
Update: Kooks Burritos has closed. No brunch this weekend. https://t.co/So3o7NB3xX
— Willamette Week (@wweek) May 20, 2017
“They told us the basic ingredients, and we saw them moving and stretching the dough similar to how pizza makers do before rolling it out with rolling pins,” Connelly went on.
“They wouldn’t tell us too much about technique, but we were peeking into windows of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look.”
The description of how Wilgus and Connelly recreated the tortillas has sparked heavy criticism and editorials which further fanned the flames online.
— Bob (@rjhopjr) May 18, 2017
Mic published an article titled, “These white cooks bragged about stealing recipes from Mexico to start a Portland business,” and it reads:
“The problem, of course, is that it’s unclear whether the Mexican women who handed over their recipes ever got anything in return.”
The Portland Mercury also chimed in with their thoughts, starting out with, “Portland has an appropriation problem.”
“Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly,” it continued. “These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.”
The ladies have received overwhelming support on Yelp, but Kooks Burritos has since taken down its website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
The list includes a number of the most popular restaurants in the city, and recommends the closest alternative venues owned by people of color.