Texas-based chef Gabe Erales gained the title of “Top Chef” Thursday evening — and it’s already leaving a nasty aftertaste within the mouths of some followers of the enduring actuality TV cooking competitors.
While some hyped his win on social media, others discovered it problematic that the previous govt chef of Austin’s Comedor — who was fired in December for “repeated violations” of restaurant insurance policies — claimed the $250,000 grand prize.
Bravo’s Portland, Oregon-based finale of the present’s 18th season featured Erales, 40, being topped the winner, with fellow Texas chef Dawn Burrell from Houston and Shota Nakajima from Seattle as runners-up.
It was introduced that Erales was competing on “Top Chef” in February 2021. However, because the season progressed, rumors began cooking that he was canned from the Mexican eatery for violating restaurant coverage on harassment and discrimination. Some social media watchdogs weren’t impressed after discovering the distasteful controversy.
One outraged fan said, “OK but for real #topchef not addressing Gabe being fired from his job and the allegations against him AT ALL is really irresponsible. I just discovered this today, and people like me have been watching and (not me) rooting for him all season with no idea.”
As on-line hypothesis began to boil over, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi served up her stance on Twitter.
“As someone who has been sexually harassed, this topic is a serious one and merits openness,” Lakshmi, 50, said. “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.”
“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,” Lakshmi added.
Network reps for “Top Chef” declined to remark when requested if there could be any response to the fan backlash. However, an insider linked to the present directed The Post to an Austin-American Statesman report revealing how the manufacturing workforce knew particulars about the firing, each from conversations with restaurant administration and Erales.
The native outlet stated an nameless “Top Chef” supply alleged that Erales admitted he engaged in a “consensual sexual relationship” with a kitchen staffer — and later minimize her hours based mostly on work efficiency. The supply additionally stated producers carried out a background test on Erales and seemed into his conduct on set, however discovered nothing problematic.
No particular allegations towards Erales have been made formally — and the brand new “Top Chef” has publicly denied having sexual relationships together with his employees at Comedor or some other restaurant.
Operated by companions William Ball and chef Philip Speer, Comedor achieved accolades corresponding to being named one in all Esquire’s best new restaurants and Texas Monthly’s best new restaurant of 2020 underneath Erales.
However, Speer informed the Statesman that Erales was let go “due to violation of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values.” He later stated extra particularly that he repeatedly violated the corporate’s ethics coverage within the context of the harassment of girls. Erales, who didn’t reply to an inquiry from the outlet again in December 2020 about his firing, lastly confirmed his termination final week.
Because the present was pre-taped months in the past, Erales was let go from his govt chef job at Comedor after the present had already named him the season’s winner.
The sequence by no means thought of re-shoots, in response to the supply, 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.”
Erales was absent from the post-finale episode of “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen” on Thursday evening — a practice through which the “Top Chef” sits down with the judges to debate their journey all through the season with Andy Cohen.
The finale of the Portland season happened within the Willamette Valley, the place cooks have been tasked with getting ready a four-course meal. Finalists have been paired with cooks who returned after being eradicated earlier within the season.
For the primary course, Erales made fried cochinita pibil head cheese with habanero ash emulsion avocado mousse and kumquat sauce. He whipped up scallop aguachile with fermented pineapple and roasted pineapple oil for the second course. His third course consisted of brief rib with chichilo negro mole, mushrooms and pickled persimmons, whereas his remaining dish was candied delicata squash with cafe Mexicano ice cream.
Erales, who hails from El Paso, is the primary Mexican-American chef to win “Top Chef.” He beforehand opened up the now-closed Dai Due Taqueria underneath Jesse Griffiths. He additionally beforehand labored at Noma in Copenhagen and Mexico City. Before rising to govt chef at Comedor, he labored at different Austin eating places corresponding to Fonda San Miguel, La Condesa and Geraldine’s.
He introduced through the season that he’s opening a brand new Mexican restaurant referred to as Bacalar within the fall of 2022 in collaboration with Austin firm Urban Real Estate and Interiors. The menu will characteristic regional dishes impressed by the Mexican state of the Yucatan.
“Moving forward, my position in a restaurant as an authority figure is an important one and I know that in order to improve our industry, creating a positive non-toxic work environment begins with a plan of checks and balances that need to be in place before the doors open,” Erales informed the Statesman.