Top chef winner Gabe Erales apologizes for workplace affair that cost him his job

Gabe Erales apologized on Saturday for his resignation 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 “deeply and sincerely regrets the impact my poor decisions had on those involved.”

The circumstances surrounding Erales’ eviction from his Comedor restaurant in Austin, Texas, came into sharper focus in July after he admitted to having an affair with a female employee at his restaurant, before she later cut her hours.

Property: Top chef winner Gabe Erales apologized on Instagram on Saturday after admitting he had a workplace affair and docked employees hours later

“The past three weeks have been a difficult time of reflection and personal growth,” Erales began his Instagram text message.

“I kept quiet, not because I thought it would go away, but because I needed time with my family to get the healing process going before making a public statement,” he continued. “To say I’m sorry I’ve let down my family, friends, staff, supporters and my Top Chef family may seem like an understatement at this point, but it’s the first step and a real start on my way to make amends.

Rather than devoting his energy to the woman he accused of harassing, the chief spent more time apologizing to his wife.

“The most important thing is that I have left that one person who has always been by my side to support my career and our family, my wife,” he wrote.

Changing the focus: Instead of devoting his energy to the woman he accused of harassing, the chief spent more time apologizing to his wife

Changing the focus: Instead of devoting his energy to the woman he accused of harassing, the chief spent more time apologizing to his wife

Becoming an owner: He admitted to the affair and later reduced her hours, although he only called the situation

Becoming an owner: He admitted to the affair and later reduced her hours, although he only called the situation “bad judgment” [sic]

Going further: Erales concluded his statement by swearing that he would learn from his

Going further: Erales concluded his statement by swearing that he would learn from his “mistakes.” He was fired from his Austin restaurant Comedor in December

The reality star continued, writing: “I must continue to admit my mistakes, including the termination of my previous job.”

To clarify, unbeknownst to my wife, I had a consensual relationship with a co-worker and later reduced her working hours, which combined was a bad judgment [sic] phone call and led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef,” he claimed.

After being fired, he said he was at his “lowest point”, putting him in danger of “possibly losing my family while I had already lost my job”.

“I am deeply and sincerely sorry for the impact my bad decisions had on those involved. My personal growth will be a perpetual excuse in seeking forgiveness,” he continued.

Opening: Erales first admitted the affair to the Austin American-Statesmen in July, just after winning Top Chef;  still from Top Chef

Opening: Erales first admitted the affair to the Austin American-Statesmen in July, just after winning Top Chef; still from Top Chef

Erales concluded his statement by swearing that he would learn from his “mistakes.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these mistakes and taking the necessary steps to be a better husband, father, chef and leader, using therapy and spirituality,” he continued. “I recognize that part of an executive chef’s role is to set the culture and uphold the restaurant’s values.

“I am committed to doing the personal and professional work every day to create a positive and safe work environment in everything that follows professionally for me. I look forward to making food that stands for [sic] my heritage and culture as the chef i know i can be but my main focus now is my family and those who continue to support me through this difficult time.”

In December last year, Erales was fired as head chef at Comedor.

While the announcement was somewhat vague, co-owner and executive chef Philip Speer said he had been fired for “repeated violations of our policies and for conduct contrary to our values.”

Doesn't pass the smell test: The outlet also reported that co-owner and chef Speer did not believe the employee's performance was a

Doesn’t pass the smell test: The outlet also reported that co-owner and chef Speer did not believe the employee’s performance was a “sufficient reason to cut hours”

In an interview with the Austin American statesmanErales admitted to having an affair with an employee and holding her for hours.

The outlet also reported that Speer did not believe the employee’s performance was a “sufficient reason to cut hours.”

He added that Erales had been “fired for repeated violations of the company’s ethical policy regarding harassment of women.”

The interview was released shortly after he was crowned the winner of Top Chef season 18, but the series had already launched an investigation after his firing.

Sources close to the series told The Austin American-Statesman that Erales did not engage in inappropriate behavior on set. Nakajima, whom he defeated to win $250,000.

Verdict: The series established that Erales wasn't inappropriate on the Top Chef set, but Padma Lakshmi was seemingly unaware of that when asked for a call in tweets from earlier this month.

Verdict: The series established that Erales wasn’t inappropriate on the Top Chef set, but Padma Lakshmi was seemingly unaware of that when asked for a call in tweets from earlier this month.

Top chef host Padma Lakshmi was seemingly unaware of the investigation, as she called out in tweets earlier this month.

“As someone who has been sexually harassed, this is a serious topic that deserves openness,” she wrote.

“We filmed Top Chef last October and were unaware of the allegations that are now coming out about Gabe. This should be investigated and the network should consider its best course of action.”

However, she added: “To be clear, no one has publicly or otherwise alleged sexual harassment against Bravo/Top Chef and we judges had no indication of any inappropriate behavior from Gabe during his time on set.”

Serious topic: Speaking out on Twitter, Lakshmi emphasized that there are no allegations of on-set misconduct during the filming of Top Chef, but that the topic of sexual harassment deserves 'openness' and investigation

Serious topic: Speaking out on Twitter, Lakshmi emphasized that there are no allegations of on-set misconduct during the filming of Top Chef, but that the topic of sexual harassment deserves ‘openness’ and investigation

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