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Longtime Inland Empire food critic Allan Borgen was killed Saturday, June 8, in a traffic collision in Missouri.

Bearded man smiling with a plate of food
Food critic Allan Borgen enjoys an entree at the Tutti Mangia Italian Grill in Claremont April 25, 2012. (File photo by Gabriel Luis Acosta, ɫ̳/SCNG)

Borgen, a Redlands resident and retired social worker, had been a professional food critic since the early 1990s. He wrote restaurant reviews for ɫ̳, and .

“He was very personable, and a very lively presence,” former Sun features editor John Weeks remembered Monday. “Had a great sense of humor. He wrote enthusiastically about food. I discovered many restaurants through his reviews, and thousands of readers did, too.”

Unlike many restaurant reviewers, Borgen — who loved Hawaiian shirts — didn’t go into Inland Empire restaurants anonymously.

“Because of his TV show, he was not able to go incognito, and he did not go incognito,” Weeks said. “His reviewing style was to have a great party, measure the temperature of the room, and get lots of opinions about the food – including from people at the tables around him. It was a democratic approach to reviews. He was very much a personality.”

He also did reviews on KVCR, KTIE, KCAA and on .

“All of us at KCAA are deeply saddened at the tragic loss of our friends and fellow broadcasters Allan Borgen and his co-host Isabel ‘Izzy’ Busse,” KCAA general manager Mark Westwood posted in a . “May God bless their souls and may they rest in peace.”

Borgen also hosted a dining club — — and had been planning on visiting Rui’s Shanghai Bistro in Redlands on June 23.

“He just so loved food. And he was fun and funny. He had a sense of humor that was just killer,” said Mary Ruhter, owner of Yucaipa’s , which sells gourmet jams, jellies, salsa, pickles and honey. “And when he and Izzy started working together, they meshed so well. Izzy is silly and goofy and she loved everything food.”

But he had a soft spot for the little guy, she said.

“He wanted to make sure that little mom and pop businesses could be successful, because he didn’t like chains,” Ruhter said.

Jeanette Rodriguez of Riverside was friends with Busse for more than 20 years.

“She always had a really fun laugh; she was always up for anything,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez had been unable to attend a Grub Club event and gave her ticket to Busse, who met Borgen at the event, with a friendship that developed into more over the years.

“Allan was just a sweet man, he always adored her,” Rodriguez said. “He liked to spoil her.”

, Borgen, 75, was driving with his partner and co-host, Isabelle Busse, 54, east of Lebanon, Missouri, on Saturday on Interstate 44. At about 6:45 p.m., a semitruck going the opposite direction crossed into oncoming traffic, striking the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica minivan driven by Borgen.

Borgen died at the scene. Busse died later at a nearby hospital.

“There’s nobody who can say anything bad about either one of them, at all,” Rodriguez said.

Staff writer Jerry Rice contributed to this story.

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