Gabe Erales is apologizing, weeks after a December 2020 report by the Austin Chronicle resurfaced that said the chef was fired as the executive chef of Comedor, a restaurant in Austin, Texas, following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Erales, who was named the season 18 winner of Bravo's hit show "Top Chef" earlier this month, issued a public statement on his Instagram Friday, where he addressed his "Top Chef" co-stars, family and friends.
"The last three weeks have been a trying time of reflection and personal growth. 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 began in a series of photo screenshots.
"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 this moment, but it's the first step and a genuine start on my road to making amends.
"Most importantly, I let the one person down who has always been by my side supporting my career and our family, my wife," he continued.
Erales is married with four children, according to his Bravo bio page, and has shared multiple photos on his Instagram of his family, including a recent post in June where he expressed gratitude to his spouse and kids.
News of the controversy surrounding Erales prompted "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi to speak out on Twitter and call for an investigation.
"As someone who has been sexually harassed, this topic is a serious one and merits openness. 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 tweeted.
She added in a follow-up tweet, "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."
Bravo, which is owned by TODAY's parent company, NBCUniversal, has not commented about the allegations against Erales but a source close to production told TODAY earlier this month that "Top Chef" was filmed last September and (the production team) didn't learn about his departure from Comedor until last December.
In his post, Erales said he appreciated his time competing on the latest season of "Top Chef," which was filmed in Portland, Oregon, before referring to the allegations against him.
"I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part Top Chef; however, 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 call and led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef.
"I was suddenly at the lowest point in my life - 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."
The Texas native added that for the time being, he plans to turn his attention to his family.
"I've 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. 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 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."