Top vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli has filed a lawsuit against her former business partners - claiming they have 'wilfully exploited' her name, fame, and image with no right do to so.
Coscarelli, who gained fame in 2010 as the first vegan chef to win a major televised food competition (Food Network's Cupcake Wars) has filed 14 counts against ESquared Hospitality, including trademark infringement, and violation of the right of publicity.
The two parties joined forces in 2014, launching the first by CHLOE fast-casual chain in 2015, capitalizing on the TV star's fame and reputation. But after a dispute in 2016, Coscarelli says CEO James Harber 'used ESquared to seize control', and they split acrimoniously following a lengthy arbitration process.
Coscarelli claimed that ESquared tried to make her serve meat, as well as make business details behind her back, but the arbitrator determined that the chef was being 'grossly negligent' and she was pushed out of the business.
This new lawsuit by Coscarelli alleges that Haber 'began a jealous and threatening campaign aimed at trying to control Chloe and acquire the rights to her personal brand' after he became infatuated with her and she spurned his advances. and she refused his proposals to license her name to mass produce food for retail sale or allow her name to be sold to international buyers.
It adds: "Haber began sending threatening messages to Chloe and her family, and demanding Chloe meet with him alone so he could share private feelings he said he had toward Chloe and about their relationship.
"Spurned again, and reeling from rejection, Haber used ESquared to seize control of BCHG, effectively excluding Chloe from all business operations. Haber then commenced an arbitration proceeding against Chloe claiming more than $7 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages from Chloe for allegedly interfering with the business."
Coscarelli was featured in PBN's Top 100 Most Influential Vegans series.Subscribe to PBN's YouTube Channel here
Coscarelli has also claimed that the quality at by CHLOE has been cut since her departure in a bid to increase profits - damaging her reputation as her name is still attached to the venture.
In addition, by CHLOE outlets have been cited for food safety and sanitation issues, including lack of employee handwashing, mold growth, unsanitary food preparation equipment, and improper use of hazardous chemicals inside the restaurant.
The lawsuit says: "The food safety hazards and unsanitary conditions at BCHG’s 'by Chloe' restaurants have been seriously damaging to namesake Chloe, who is a celebrated vegan chef with a reputation for exacting standards."
Coscarelli's lead attorney on the case, Ronald J. Schutz, Esq., told Plant Based News: "We think Chloe is among the most talented and best known vegan chefs in the country.
"She has changed how people view vegan food with her incredible healthy and tasty recipes.
"She is a wonderful person and we filed this suit so that Chloe can regain full control of her own name and that she be compensated for the unauthorized use of her name, image, and likeness for the past year."
ESquared Hospitality CEO James Harber said in a statement that the company is 'disappointed by these public accusations from a disgruntled former partner', calling it an attempt 'to undermine the company and hurt its loyal employees'.
He also brought attention to 2017 decision 'by the New York Supreme Court detailing Coscarelli's 'gross negligence''.
Harber did not specifically deny any allegations of misconduct.