Here’s a recipe: Mix one part "World's Tallest Chef" and one part Big Ten Sorority House and what do you get?
"World's Tallest Chef" and Homewood native Jeff Goldfarb is currently pursuing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights against Northwestern University's Delta Delta Delta Sorority House for what he claims to be an unlawful form of termination.
The 7-foot-tall Goldfarb was employed for five months as chef for Tri Delta sorority house in Evanston. Goldfarb suffers from psoriatic and sciatic arthritis related to his height and can be legally classified as “disabled,” according to Goldfarb’s lawyer, Mason Cole. Throughout his employment, he requested to take no more than two and one-half days off for medical reasons, according to Cole. Additionally, Goldfarb notified Tri Delta housemother Judith Burns of his ailment at the onset of his hiring.
According to him, Burns abruptly fired him after cooking dinner one night.
“I was fired for physical disabilities,” Goldfarb, 42, said. “What they did to me and how they let me go was very disrespectful.”
Tri Delta, represented by legal counsel Stephanie Cantrell, however, feels Goldfarb's accusations are "wholly without merit."
“When Ms. Burns informed Mr. Goldfarb his employment would be terminated, she included in his paycheck an extra week of pay as a severance payment,” Cantrell said in a letter to Cole, which he provided to Patch. "Mr. Goldfarb was terminated by the Chapter solely because the majority of the house members did not like his cooking."
The impetus for Goldfarb's termination, in his opinion, was Burns' frustration during the few days he had to take time off due to medical reasons.
Both Tri Delta housemother Judith Burns and Tri Delta's lawyer declined comment when contacted.
According to Goldfarb, there is evidence of the girls' appreciation of his food. Here are a few examples of real "tweets" some of the girls created in response to Goldfarb's food:
- "Okay that oatmeal ana blue cheese encrusted pork loin was DDDelicious tonight. Un. Real."
- "Thank you for the amazing week! (I'm still full)"
- "literally cannot get enough of Chef Jeff's cooking #heaven #newTK #foodtweets"
- "stop it. You're too good to us."
(Readers may also see these in the primary document in the photo section of this article.)
However, an excerpt from Cantrell's letter to Goldfarb's lawyer said those who loved the chef's cooking were in the minority.
"We do not dispute that there were certain members who did like his cooking. However, when the officers of the house conducted a survey, it was revealed that 75% of the members were either 'dissatisfied' or 'neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.' Only 1 in 4 of the girls felt that Mr. Goldfarb’s food was satisfactory. It was this information alone that led to the decision to terminate his employment."
Despite this claim, Goldfarb's attorney said, such a survey has yet to be produced. Even if it was, Cole points out the problematic nature of the circumstance.
“It’s odd that an anonymous survey would be conducted without (Goldfarb’s) knowledge,” Cole said.
The demand letter from Cole Sadkin LLC, Cole’s law firm, offered to settle the matter for $43,000—a figure Cole said simply covers the money Goldfarb is losing due to his unemployment.
“We’re not asking for attorney fees or punitive damages, (Goldfarb) just wants the right to work, but the court can’t force (Goldfarb) to get his job back,” Cole said. “(Goldfarb) intended to work for the sorority for a long time.”
Cole said he was contacted by the opposing counsel and initial settlement negotiations were held.
“Neither party was satisfied with the offers,” Cole said.
As a result, Cole said an Illinois Department of Human Rights complaint has been filed. If the investigation’s outcome favors Goldfarb, he will be provided with a “right to sue” letter, a predecessor element to litigation.
In the meantime, Goldfarb is compiling his memoirs and working on a children’s illustrated cookbook.