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Houston’s Own Dawn Burrell Could Be the Next ‘Top Chef’

Heading into this week’s finale, Burrell’s proven she’s up to the challenge all season long

David Moir/Bravo
Amy McCarthy is a staff writer at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

On Thursday, July 1, the season finale of Top Chef: Portland is set to air on Bravo. Three chefs, including Houston’s own Dawn Burrell will appear in the finale, all vying to be crowned the show’s eighteenth victor.

Alongside Austin chef Gabe Erales and Seattle’s Shota Nakajima, Burrell is well-poised to take home the trophy this year — and that whopping $250,000 prize. Throughout each challenge, Burrell’s flavors have earned significant praise from the judges, including the Viet-Cajun crab boil she prepared on the semi-final episode last week, and curried goat and crispy roti from earlier in the season. The show’s judges, including chef Tom Colicchio and host Padma Lakshmi, have praised Burrell’s ability to put her own distinct spin on each challenge while turning out top-notch dishes.

To be sure, Burrell faces stiff competition — Erales has been an obvious frontrunner all season long, earning copious praise from the judges and winning three challenges across the 13 episodes. In comparison, Burrell has only won one challenge, but she’s been in among the top three contenders in six different episodes, demonstrating both consistency in the quality of her food, and an ability to adapt to the unique situation of each culinary challenge.

If she were to win, Burrell would be the first Houston chef to take home the “Top Chef” victory. Other chefs have competed on the show, including this season’s Sasha Grumman, who was eliminated after the second episode, but none have been able to bring home the win. If Burrell did make that happen, it could bring even more attention to the city’s culinary scene, especially as Burrell plans to open her much-anticipated restaurant Late August alongside restaurateur Chris Williams in the coming months.

The finale of “Top Chef: Portland” airs on Thursday, July 1 at 8 p.m. CST. Be sure to tune in and root for Burrell, who’s shown this season that she’s definitely got what it takes to be among the country’s best chefs.