Gabe Erales issued an apology Saturday addressing his firing late last year over sexual harassment allegations.
The chef, who won the most recent season of Top Chef earlier this month, wrote on Instagram that he was ‘deeply and sincerely sorry for the impact my poor decisions had on those involved.’
The circumstances surrounding Erales ouster from his restaurant Comedor in Austin, Texas, came into clearer focus in July after he admitted to carrying on an affair with a female employee at his restaurant, before later decreasing her hours.
Owning up: Top Chef winner Gabe Erales shared an apology to Instagram on Saturday after admitting to carrying on a workplace affair and docking the employees hours later on
‘The last three weeks have been a trying time of reflection and personal growth,’ Erales began his Instagram text post.
‘I have been silent not because I thought it would go away, but because I needed time with my family to start the healing process before making a public statement,’ he continued. ‘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 the moment, but it’s the first step and a genuine start on my road to making amends.
Rather than devoting his energies toward the woman he’s accused of harassing, the chef spent more time apologizing to his wife.
‘Most importantly, I let the one person down who has always been by my side supporting my career and our family, my wife,’ he wrote.
Changing the focus: Rather than devoting his energies toward the woman he’s accused of harassing, the chef spent more time apologizing to his wife
Taking ownership: He admitted to the affair and later reducing her hours, though he only referred to the situation as ‘poor judgement’ [sic]
Moving on: Erales concluded his statement by vowing to learn from his ‘mistakes.’ He was fired in December from his Austin restaurant Comedor
The reality star continued, writing ‘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 judgement [sic] call and led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef,’ he claimed.
After the firing, he said he was at his ‘lowest point,’ putting him in danger of ‘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,’ he continued.
Opening up: Erales first admitted to the affair to the Austin American-Statesmen in July, just after winning Top Chef; still from Top Chef
Erales concluded his statement by vowing to learn from his ‘mistakes.’
‘I spent a lot of time reflecting on these mistakes and taking the necessary steps to be a better husband, father, chef and leader, with the help of therapy and spirituality,’ he continued. ‘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. I look forward to creating food that represent [sic] my heritage and culture as the chef I know I can be, but my main focus now is my family and those that continue to support me during this difficult time.’
In December of last year, Erales was fired from his executive chef position at Comedor.
Although the announcement was somewhat vague, co-owner and chef Philip Speer said he was fired for ‘repeated violations of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values.’
Doesn’t pass the smell test: The outlet also reported that co-owner and chef Speer didn’t believe the employee’s performance was a ‘sufficient reason for hours being cut’
In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, Erales admitted to his affair with an employee and docking her hours.
The outlet also reported that Speer didn’t believe the employee’s performance was a ‘sufficient reason for hours being cut.’
He added that Erales had been ‘fired for repeated violations of the company’s ethics policy as it relates to harassment of women.’
The interview was released shortly after he had been crowned the winner of Top Chef season 18, but the series had already conducted an investigation following his firing.
Sources close to the series told The Austin American-Statesman that Erales wasn’t found to have behavior inappropriately on set, so the series was released in full over concerns that cutting it off would be unfair to his competitors, particularly finalists Dawn Burrell and Shota Nakajima, whom he beat out to win $250,000.
Speaking out: The series determined Erales wasn’t inappropriate on the Top Chef set, but Padma Lakshmi was seemingly unaware of it when called for one in tweets from earlier this month
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi was seemingly unaware of the investigation, as she called for one in tweets from earlier this month.
‘As someone who has been sexually harassed, this topic is a serious one and merits openness,’ she wrote.
‘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.’
However, she added: ‘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.’
Serious topic: Lakshmi spoke out on Twitter stressing there are no allegations of misconduct on set during Top Chef filming but that the topic of sexual harassment ‘merits openness’ and investigation