Houston Olympian Dawn Burrell not only in “Top Chef” finale, but also final two for show’s fan favorite

There is more than one way for Houston Olympian Dawn Burrell to emerge a winner after Thursday’s season finale of “Top Chef.”

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Burrell has cooked her way into the final three chefs in Season 18 of the popular show where the winner could win $250,000. Burrell is one of two Texans in the final three, joining Austin-based chef Gabe Erales. Shota Nakajima rounds out the trio.

Burrell has also clearly won her way into the hearts of many “Top Chef” fans, emerging with Nakajima as the final two chefs in the show’s voting for fan favorite. Whoever ends up getting the most votes takes home $10,000.

All this just adds to Burrell’s unique resume. Chef Burrell worked as the executive chef at Kulture, where she received her first James Beard nomination for “Best Chef,” prior to departing during the pandemic. She joined Lucille’s Hospitality Group after filming the show and has a soon-to-come restaurant in late August. Burrell also launched PIVOT, a chef-driven meal preparation service dedicated to helping families with wholesome meals.

The 47-year-old also competed for Team USA in the long jump at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

And perhaps, after Thursday evening, she’ll have possibly two more victory notches to add to her belt. Friend Erin Smith, who owns Feges BBQ, said she’s hoping Burrell comes out on top Thursday night.

“I really hope she makes it all the way,” Smith said. “We’ll be rooting for her but either way I’m incredibly proud of her. I think this is great for Houston. I think it’s great for women and I certainly think it’s great for Dawn.”

About the Authors:

Born in Canada but raised in Houston, Howard joined KPRC 2 in 2021 after five years at ESPN. Before that, Howard was a reporter on Houston Rockets and Houston Astros game broadcasts. Among the events that Howard has covered on site: the NBA bubble and the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions for both Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. He's H-town proud!