Top Chef winner Gabe Erales
(Photo by: David Moir/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Top Chef Winner Gabe Erales on His ‘First of Its Kind’ Restaurant

Top Chef winner Gabe Erales has shared some exciting news! It’s hard to believe, but Top Chef Season 18 was only two seasons ago. A time when Padma Lakshmi was host and judge. Maybe Padma will come back someday! Still, fans will no doubt remember finalists of that season, Gabe Erales, Shota Nakajima, and Olympian-turned-chef Dawn Burrell who all competed for the gold. 

Gabe flew under the radar and won that season against his fellow cheftestants, Shota and Dawn. So, what has the Season 18 champ been up to since that win? Well, he has finally opened up a restaurant that has been simmering on his mind low and slow for quite some time. 

Top Chef winner Gabe is dishing up diverse and unique flavors

Top Chef winner Gabe Erales
(Photo by: David Moir/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

For those living in Austin or visiting the city, you get to be lucky enough to check out Gabe’s new hot spot, Bacalar. Gabe told Bravo, “Obviously, this project has been a long time coming, And I think it’s really the first of its kind in the U.S. There’s really not many restaurants that have taken such a laser focus on the cuisine of the [Yucatan] peninsula in Mexico.”

Gabe shared that region of Mexico is highly diverse which provided inspiration for non-traditional type food fair. He said, “It’s a different part of the world. The diversity is really, really unique. And, while there are a lot of traditional dishes that are Mexican, when you dive deep down into them, they don’t feel 100 percent Mexican, which is what I think is, is really cool.”

The restaurant just opened up in September, so there are still some growing pains. He shared they are, “still gathering our momentum and getting our wheels underneath us.” Hey, if he can survive restaurant wars, then I’m sure he can get his new restaurant up and running. Let’s just hope he doesn’t try to cook and do front of the house at the same time. 

Gabe then shared who inspired his menu. He noted, “All of the things that are on the menu, all have emotional ties to all my family. It’s really cool to have those special food memories and share it with other people beyond my immediate family.”

Maybe we’ll get to see Gabe as a guest judge on the upcoming season of Top Chef. If not, anyone can check out his food at Bacalar, or his next project which will be in the D.C. area. Gabe shared this restaurant will be “more of a Tex-Mex driven concept.” Now it’s time to get some tacos!

See Top Chef winner Gabe in Season 18, streaming on Peacock.