Three weeks and change after Top Chef: Portland’s finale aired, winner Gabe Erales has issued an apology for his behavior outside the popular reality show. The Austin-based chef was fired from Comedor, the restaurant where he worked as head chef, after filming concluded, allegedly for sexual misconduct with another employee. The termination itself reportedly happened back in December, but the story surrounding it has gained a lot of traction the past few weeks.

In a lengthy post, Gabe Erales apologized for letting his family, friends, staff, supporters and Top Chef family down, as well as his wife who he singled out and apologized to. He also clarified what happened, at least from his perspective. He claims he had a consensual affair with an employee and later cut her hours. You can read a portion of his statement below, which was published on Instagram

To say I am sorry that I let my family, friends, staff, supporters, and my Top Chef family down may feel like an understatement at this moment, but it’s the first step and a genuine start on my road to making amends. Most importantly, I let the one person down who has always been by my side supporting my career and our family, my wife. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Top Chef; however, I must continue to acknowledge my mistakes including the termination from my former job. To clarify, unbeknownst to my wife, I had a consensual relationship with a co-worker and later reduced her work hours, which in combination was a poor judgment call and led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef. 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.

Since news of the Erales’ firing broke. Top Chef has distanced itself a bit from the contestant. He didn’t do Watch What Happens Live after the finale, which is common for the winning chef, and host Padma Lakshmi took to Twitter to encourage the network to investigate the claims fully. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the show looked into Erales’ on-set behavior and interactions with other contestants after they found out about his firing but did not find anything inappropriate during his time on the show.

Gabe talking to the camera during Top Chef Portland.

With just a handful of exceptions, Top Chef Season 18 featured far more good vibes and cooperation between the contestants than usual. Many of the show's most popular former contestants returned to judge, and most of the chefs seemed to genuinely care and root for each other, and that spirit of positivity was especially present during the final few episodes as Gabe, along with contestants Shota, Dawn, Jamie, Maria and others really seemed to find common ground and friendship. Erales was an early favorite and ultimately won four elimination challenges and one Quickfire, while only being in the bottom twice.

Gabe Erales is currently scheduled to open his own restaurant Bacalar in Austin in 2022. It was reportedly serve dishes from the Yucatan and be located in a new development downtown. At this point, it’s unclear if his alleged behavior will delay or change anything about the opening.

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