Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly, owners of Portland pop-up shop Kooks Burritos, just wanted to make and sell some really great burritos. So when they were on a trip to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico, they “picked the brains” of the local tortilla ladies and brought those recipes back to the States.
“I picked the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever, and they showed me a little of what they did,” Connelly told Willamette Week. “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. They wouldn’t tell us too much about technique, but we were peeking into the windows of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look. We learned quickly it isn’t quite that easy.”
Whelp, apparently this interview sparked an Internet shitstorm, which ended in Kooks Burritos shutting down and the two white women who owned it scrubbing social media of the business’ existence.
Wilgus and Connelly were accused of cultural appropriation by the Internet mob, and even the theft of PoC’s recipes.
— Bob (@rjhopjr) May 18, 2017
“Now that you all boldly and pretty fucking unapologetically stole the basis of these women’s livelihoods, you can make their exact same product so other white ppl don’t have to be inconvenienced dealing with a pesky brown middle woman getting in their way,” wrote a woman in the interview’s comment section.
The women became the subject of local editorials and, of course, fucking Mic.com fanned the flames with an article, “These white cooks bragged about stealing recipes from Mexico to start a Portland business.”
The company’s Yelp reviews are flooded with one-star reviews from the PC police, using terms like “white mediocrity” and “Latinx” while comparing Kooks Burritos to colonialism.
Soon after the controversy, a list of white-owned “appropriative” businesses began circulating online, featuring some of Portland’s top restaurants. The list also suggested the nearest “PoC alternatives” to each white business.
So to recap, a couple of white ladies learned to make burritos good while on vacation and now they are literally comparable to Hernán Cortés.
Good job, cultural appropriation warriors! You made the world a better place by shutting down a local small business.