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Padma Lakshmi Responds to Controversy Surrounding 'Top Chef' Winner Gabe Erales

Padma Lakshmi Responds to Controversy Surrounding 'Top Chef' Winner Gabe Erales

Padma Lakshmi is speaking out.

The season 18 finale of Top Chef took place on Thursday (July 1) and contestant Gabe Erales beat out his fellow contestants Dawn Burrell and Shota Nakajima for the grand prize of $250,000.

However, after the episode aired, some viewers brought up a report from last year that alleged Gabe was no longer worked at the Austin restaurant Comedor due to “repeated violation” of company policies.

Padma addressed the controversy on social media on Friday (July 2).

Click inside to see her response…

“As someone who has been sexually harassed, this topic is a serious one and merits openness,” she wrote on Twitter. “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.

Padma also 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.”

The initial report, which was published by The Austin Chronicle, states that Gabe had been let go from his position as executive chef at the acclaimed restaurant Comedor in December 2020.

“Comedor Executive Chef Gabe Erales is no longer with the restaurant due to repeated violation of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values,” Comedor’s co-owners said in an email to the outlet. “In his absence, Chef and Comedor partner Philip Speer will be helming the kitchen. After the New Year, we will begin the search for a permanent replacement.”

In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, Gabe clarified the reasons for his departure from the restaurant.

He shared that he had a “consensual sexual relationship” with a female staff member at Comedor during the summer 2020 and later reduced the woman’s hours after he came back from filming Top Chef due to an alleged decline in her performance.

“After I returned from Top Chef, I made some business decisions as a manager that affected this employee and were found to be discriminatory and I realized that those were bad decisions,” Gabe told the outlet. “I’ve spent the last six months really reflecting on these mistakes and taking the necessary steps to be a better husband, a father, a chef and a leader, through therapy, through spirituality.”

Padma also recently called out something different via social media

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