CHICAGO (CBS) — His culinary creations were front and center on the social media pages of Chicago’s popular and award-winning Publican restaurants. But executive chef Cosmo Goss has been fired for not taking disciplinary action when an inappropriate photo of a female employee was shared among staff without her permission.
“We need people to have respect for women, to make a culture of belonging, and he was in a leadership role and he sets that culture,” said Andee Harris, a human resources expert at HighGround.
The incident, which occurred at Wicker Park’s Publican Anker in 2016, was only reported several weeks ago. The Chicago-based restaurant group launched an investigation, saying “respect and safety in the workplace are not up for debate.”
“They investigated the matter, they hired a legal firm and they took it very seriously,” Harris said.
Goss, who is in his late 20’s, has earned an international reputation for supervising the five Publican-branded businesses.
In a statement, he said, “I understand that this seemingly fleeting moment was wholly unprofessional. I was in a position to make a difference, and did not rise to the occasion.” He wrote that he is “deeply sorry to the woman portrayed in the photograph and the other individuals whom these consequences have affected.”
“When you think about sexual harassment, it really has very different categories,” Harris noted. “There is belonging, there is respect and then there’s safety.”
Just weeks ago, Goss was actively promoting a Publican cookbook he wrote with chef Paul Kahan. By this past weekend, however, Kahan was going solo on national television. In a statement, Publican parent company One Off Hospitality said Goss “will no longer be participating in any activities regarding our restaurants or the book.”
Harris said this was a necessary step to promote inclusion for all, adding, “Making sure that it’s a culture of recognition, of appreciation, and making sure that people feel like they can bring their whole selves to work.”
Goss was let go along with a second employee, the general manager at Publican Anker. Goss was already set to leave in the coming months to open a new restaurant of his own in River North. The restaurant, Pacific Standard Time, has already been generating international buzz. One of the restaurant’s major backers is One Off Hospitality.
Both confirm that their relationship is under evaluation.
Goss was recently named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30.