Throughout the entire season of "Top Chef," Texas-based chef Gabe Erales impressed judges with his Mexican cuisine, so much so that he was named the winner of the reality TV competition on July 1. However, some fans of the show were upset at the decision, but not because of the food. Rather, Gabe has had some problematic accusations thrown his way.
Last December — after he had filmed the show, but before it aired — Gabe was fired as executive chef of Austin's Comedor due to "repeated violations," which allegedly stemmed from harassment of women, which he has denied.
Amid the brewing controversy, "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi took a stance.
"As someone who has been sexually harassed, this topic is a serious one and merits openness," she tweeted. "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 continued, "To be clear, 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."
A source told the Austin-American Stateman that Bravo producers performed a background check on Gabe and looked into his behavior on set, but found nothing problematic.
The newspaper said "Top Chef" never considered re-shoots after Gabe was let go from his job (which happened before the season aired) since "scrapping the entire season would not be fair to the other 14 chef contestants and a production team that endured the challenges of the pandemic to produce the show."
Network reps for "Top Chef" have not commented on the matter.