Hours after crowning of new “Top Chef,” allegations of firing due to sexual harassment follow winner Gabe Erales

Within hours of the “Top Chef Portland” finale, news surfaced that Gabe Erales—dubbed a “master of mole” for his complex sauces—had been accused of sexual harassment. Last year, Eater Austin reported that Erales had to “part ways” with buzzy modern Mexican eatery Comedor for unspecified repeated violations of policy in December. That was a few months after “Top Chef” concluded its Oregon season—and before anyone knew the results. After Thursday’s evening broadcast—in which the Noma alum took home a $250,000 check—Friday morning brought Austin American-Statesman reporting that Erales had been dismissed for a sexual relationship and subsequent inappropriate treatment of a female staffer (Erales admitted to a consensual relationship, cutting the employee’s hours and communicating with her in an “unprofessional manner”). No allegations on the Bravo set have come to light, but host Padma Lakshmi said, in an initial tweet, that the network should investigate. She also said that the show wasn’t aware of the firing—which she later clarified to mean the judges weren’t aware. An anonymous source said that the network knew about the firing and decided to air the season out of respect for the other contestants. 

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