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Publican Executive Chef Fired After Worker Shares 'Inappropriate' Photo

By Emma G. Gallegos in Food on Oct 24, 2017 5:14PM

Cosmo Goss at Publican (Publican/Instagram)

Cosmo Goss, the executive chef of the Publican Restaurants, has been fired after failing to take action when his employee circulated an "inappropriate" and "personal" photo of a female employee, Eater Chicago reports. By choosing to do nothing, parent company One Off Hospitality says that Goss fostered a work environment that is "uncomfortable" for women.

One Off said in a statement that when Goss was shown the photo of a female employee being shared among staff without her consent, he should have fired the employee or at least reported it to the company. The initial incident happened at Publican Anker at the end of 2016, and later the female employee reported it to human resources. They responded by hiring legal counsel, which conducted an investigation. Antonio Molina, the general manager of Publican Anker, was also fired as a result of the investigation.

"[Goss] thought it was a fleeting incident," said One Off spokeswoman in an interview with the Chicago Tribune “but the reason this is so concerning is he was executive chef. He didn't report the incident, or fire the person [who took shared the photo]. He discussed it with other employees."

The spokeswoman also told the Tribune, "We want to acknowledge the severity of these actions, and want this person to feel that her story is being heard. Just because you're beloved and a rising star doesn't mean you're not held accountable just like everyone else."

The employee who initially shared the photograph was fired earlier this year for unrelated reasons. Neither they, nor the female employee who was the subject of the photograph were managers, the Tribune reports.

Goss said in a statement to Eater that incidents like these "were not the norm" but admitted that he "was in a position to make a difference, and did not to rise to the occasion."

"In retrospect, I understand that this seemingly fleeting moment was wholly unprofessional and unacceptable," Goss's statement read. "As a leader at One Off Hospitality, I regret not doing enough to address the issue, and I am deeply sorry to the woman portrayed in the photograph and the other individuals whom these consequences have affected."

Goss was executive chef of Publican's five restaurants, a position created for him that may not be filled, Eater says. He has been yanked off the Cheers to the Publican cookbook tour with co-author Paul Kahan. But One Off hasn't cut off all their connections to Goss just yet: they are partners for his new California cuisine venture Pacific Standard Time slated to open later this fall. A spokeswoman said in a statement to Chicagoist that they're formally reevaluating that partnership.

One Off Hospitality is the group behind Violet Hour, Avec, Blackbird and Nico Osteria.

"One Off has an open-door policy, and it’s our responsibility to address instances of inappropriate workplace conduct thoroughly and with zero tolerance," a spokewoman said, in a statement. "In addition to this, we require that all of our managers participate in mandatory anti-harassment training. In our opinion, respect and safety in the workplace are not up for debate, regardless of the position you hold or where you work."

Many industries are reevaluating the way women are treated in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations. One high-profile case in the restaurant industry is Josh Tesh, a New Orleans celebrity chef, who stepped down after 25 women came forward to say he harassed them.