After Announcing Winner, 'Top Chef' Host Padma Lakshmi Calls for Investigation into Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

Monday July 5, 2021
Originally published on July 5, 2021

Not long after "Top Chef" crowned its winner of Season 18, which took place in Portland, host Padma Lakshmi is calling for an investigation into the champ after allegations of misconduct resurfaced, Vulture reports.

Gabe Erales was crowned the "Top Chef" winner last week but not long after the episode aired, Lakshmi took to social media to address the allegations against him.

Eater reported in December 2020 that Erales was let go as the executive chef of Comedor, a high-end Mexican restaurant in Austin due to what ownership called "repeated violations of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values."

But a day after the "Top Chef" Season 18 finale aired, the Austin American Statesmen published a report where Erales admitted that after he had a "consensual" sexual relationship with an employee in the summer of 2020, he cut her hours in November based on "performance."

The restaurant's co-owner Philip Speer told the newspaper he "did not deem the woman's work as sufficient reason for hours being cut," and that "Erales was fired for repeated violations of the company's ethics policy as it relates to harassment of women."

When Lakshmi addressed the situation on July 2, she tweeted that Season 18 of the Bravo reality show was filmed in October 2020 and producers "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," she added.