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Top Chef winner Gabe Erales apologizes in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

·3 min read

Recently-crowned Top Chef season 18 winner Gabe Erales has issued an apology in the wake of controversy surrounding his firing from Comedor, the Austin restaurant where he was executive chef.

Erales was fired in December 2020, after he had completed filming on the Bravo series. The day after Top Chef's season finale aired, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Erales "admitted to having a consensual sexual relationship" with a female coworker at Comedor in the summer of 2020. He later reduced the employee's work hours "based on her performance," Erales said, while he "continued to communicat[e] with her in an unprofessional manner."

David Moir/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Gabe Erales on 'Top Chef'

Philip Speer, a partner and chef at Comedor, told the Statesman that Erales was fired due to "repeated violations of the company's ethics policy as it relates to harassment of women."

On Friday, Erales made his first public statement since speaking to the Statesman via Instagram, writing, "The last three weeks have been a trying time of reflection and personal growth. I have been silent not because I thought it would go away, but time with my family to start the healing process before making a public statement."

Erales went on to reiterate that he had a "consensual" affair with a coworker "and later reduced her work hours, which in combination was a poor judgment call that led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef," he wrote. "I was suddenly at the lowest point in my life — potentially losing my family while I had already lost my job. I am deeply and sincerely sorry for the impact that my poor decisions had on those involved. My personal growth will be a perpetual apology in seeking forgiveness."

Representatives for Bravo declined to comment. Previously, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi addressed the emerging controversy on Twitter before the Satesman's story was published.

"As someone who has been sexually harassed, this topic is a serious one and merits openness," Lakshmi wrote at the time. "We filmed Top Chef in October of last year & were not aware of the allegations now coming out about Gabe. This should be investigated & the network should consider its best action."

She added that "no one has alleged sexual harassment on the record or otherwise to Bravo/Top Chef and we judges didn't have any indication of inappropriate behavior from Gabe during his time on set."

Erales, who is the first Mexican American chef to win the Bravo series, plans to open a new restaurant in downtown Austin called Bacalar in fall 2022, according to Eater Austin. In his Instagram post, Erales looked forward, writing, "I recognize that part of an executive chef role is to set the culture and uphold the values of the restaurant. I am committed to doing the personal and professional work every day to create a positive and safe work environment in whatever follows for me professionally."

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