After the Top Chef season 18 finale, allegations surfaced against winner Gabe Erales over his firing from an Austin restaurant.
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Longtime Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is calling for an investigation after news surfaced that the cooking competition's newly crowned season 18 winner was fired from a restaurant last fall — after filming on the series had wrapped — over alleged repeated policy violations.

Gabe Erales was announced as the winner of Top Chef: Portland on Thursday night. The victory, however, was quickly met with controversy when social media users brought up news that the chef had been fired from Austin restaurant Comedor in December, for what co-owners then announced was due to alleged "repeated violation of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values," according to the Austin Chronicle.

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Padma Lakshmi, Gabe Erales
| Credit: David Moir/Bravo; Stephanie Diani/Bravo

In a story in the Austin American Statesman on Friday, Erales is reported to have told the publication he'd engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with a restaurant worker last summer. After he returned from filming Top Chef, he cut her hours, blaming performance, the outlet reported. One of the restaurant's co-owners told the paper that the chef's policy violations had to do with harassment.

"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," Erales told the publication. "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."

Erales has not replied to EW's request for comment.

After the finale aired, Lakshmi tweeted that she had not been aware of the allegations against Erales at the time of filming the Bravo show, and called for an investigation.

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

The host went on to clarify there were no allegations of "inappropriate behavior" from the Top Chef winner while filming took place.

"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," Lakshmi wrote.

A rep for Bravo declined to comment to EW.

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