‘Top Chef’ controversy swirls with winner Gabe Erales previously accused of sexual harassment — while Seattle’s Edouardo Jordan edited out

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Seattle chef Shota Nakajima lost in the “Top Chef” final on Thursday evening. Now controversy is swirling around winner Gabe Erales, who was accused of sexual harassment and fired from his job in December 2020 – and Edouardo Jordan from Seattle, who was also charged with sexual misconduct and was cut from the final.

After Season 18 of “Top Chef” was filmed in Portland last fall, Erales was fired, it was found, as head chef for Austin’s Comedor for “repeated violations of the company’s ethical policy regarding the harassment of women.” Statesman. Erales has admitted that after a “consensual sexual relationship” with her had ended, he cut the hours when he returned from taping in Portland and also told the American statesman that he continued to communicate with her unprofessionally.

Meanwhile, a source close to the show told the Seattle Times that chef Edouardo Jordan, recently accused of sexual misconduct or unsolicited touch by 15 women, was one of 12 guest dinners at the finals that Erales saw beat Seattle’s Shota Nakajima and Houston’s Dawn Burrell Houston to win the title of “Top Chef” and $ 250,000. With the allegations revealed just two and a half weeks before the broadcast date, Jordan was cut out of the last show.

A Bravo spokesperson declined to comment on Jordan’s role and the station’s decision to air the season with a winner who has since been sacked for misconduct.

The source close to “Top Chef”, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not officially allowed to comment, said that the production of the “Top Chef” season had already ended when Erales resigned from his head chef job last December has been terminated, and the network has investigated his behavior on set and found nothing inappropriate. As for Jordan, the fact that 15 women made allegations led to its removal from the previous episode. With no official allegations against Erales, they said his termination was all the information the network had. The decision to keep the show broadcast was also made, the source said, in order to showcase the work of the group of chefs.

Nakajima, the Seattle finalist, spoke to the Seattle Times about the allegations against Jordan after the season finale and said, “It’s – it’s hard. It’s – it’s hard what he did. I’ve seen him as a father, which breaks my heart. It’s hard for me to answer because I’m still processing what it is. I also knew him as a person. ”Nakajima said that in his own restaurant business he has now“ set up management structures in writing ”in order to identify and anticipate harassment. “I’ll try to keep doing my part,” he said. Nakajima has not yet responded to a request for comment on emerging information about “Top Chef” winner Erales.

The source close to “Top Chef” said they were not aware of any current plans to re-examine the result of the season. But it seems that more could follow, and hostess Padma Lakshmi tweeted, “As someone who has been sexually harassed, this issue is serious and deserves frankness. We filmed Top Chef last October and were unaware of the allegations that are now surfacing about Gabe. This should be investigated and the network should consider its best measures. ”She also clarified that“ no one has alleged sexual harassment on record or otherwise to Bravo / Top Chef, and we judge no evidence of improper behavior by Gabe during his time on set. “

Erales plans to open a restaurant in Austin after “really thinking about these mistakes and taking the necessary steps to be a better husband, father, cook, and guide through therapy and spirituality,” he told the American-Statesman.

Jordan had announced the permanent closure of his Ravenna restaurant, Salare, shortly before the allegations against him came to light; its neighboring restaurant Junebaby is temporarily closed.

Bethany Jean Clement
is a food writer for the Seattle Times: bclement@seattletimes.com; facebook.com/bethany.jean.clement; on Instagram @bethanyjeanclement; on Twitter @BJeanClement.