Shota Nakajima, Dawn Burrell, Gabe Erales
Source: Bravo

[SPOILER] Is Our New 'Top Chef' Season 18 Winner

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Jul. 1 2021, Published 9:44 p.m. ET

Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for the Season 18 finale of Top Chef.

The finale of Season 18 of Top Chef is finally here, and all three contestants in the running for the grand prize are fierce competitors. Well, they're the fiercest competitors in what was widely considered the nicest season of the competition.

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With the challenge to "create the best four-course progressive meal of your life," read on for how the finale played out. Who won Top Chef: Portland and took home $250,000? The winner was a first for the franchise.

Shota Nakajima, Dawn Burrell, Gabe Erales
Source: Bravo
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Who won Season 18 of 'Top Chef'?

After 13 weeks, the competition came to a close at Willamette Valley Vineyards, with the challenge being to create a four-course meal. In addition to serving the meal to the judges, they were also serving this season's All-Star dining panel and additional guests, like former Season 7 Fan Favorite winner Tiffany Derry.

But Tiffany was far from the only Top Chef alum to pop up in the last episode. Former winners Melissa King and Richard Blais joined Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons at the judging table.

Richard Blais, Melissa King, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons
Source: Bravo
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And perhaps in a display of the "niceness" that this season has been known for, we got to watch yet another display of excellent camaraderie. Former contestants came back to lend a hand because the chefs definitely needed some help getting through their final challenge. Each got to pick a sous-chef. Dawn Burrell picked Jamie Tran, while Gabe Erales chose Maria Mazon. Shota Nakajima opted to work with Byron Gomez.

Each of the last three competitors has had their strengths and weaknesses all season. Dawn has struggled to complete plating, something that has cost former competitors before. Gabe has also missed ingredients, and he's also been called out by fans for lacking some variety. He's very focused on his sauces, to the point that sometimes the rest of the plate suffers. For most fans, Shota has been a clear favorite to win, but could he finish the season as strong as he's been?

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Byron Gomez, Shota Nakajima, Jamie Tran, Dawn Burrell, Gabe Erales, Maria Mazon
Source: Bravo

In the end, Dawn prepared a meal consisting of lamb tartare with beef tendon and honey bread, green gumbo with a Carolina gold rice fritter, jerk beef cheek with braised black-eyed peas and buttered turnips, and yam and buttermilk bread pudding.

Gabe stayed true to his roots, creating pig head cheese, scallop and tepache aguachile, short rib with Oregon mushrooms and a chichilo negro mole (because, of course, more mole), and candied delicata squash with cafe Mexicano ice cream.

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Shota's four courses were sashimi three-ways, octopus karaage with water spinach and burdock root, beef tongue curry, and Hoji tea cheesecake with cedar-smoked gelato.

Dawn faced the kind of trouble that fans were expecting. Her honey bread was missing from two plates, and the judges were disappointed with her time management. Gabe and Shota had much more success with their first dish. But the judges were overall impressed with the second and third courses, though the desserts received both praise and criticism.

Shota Nakajima, Dawn Burrell, Gabe Erales
Source: Bravo
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All in all, the judges told the contestants that all three of them crafted beautiful and delectable meals, but who impressed them the most? In the end, Gabe was crowned the winner, making him the first Mexican winner of the franchise.

Who won Fan Favorite for Season 18?

If you were bummed that Shota didn't win, don't worry. He didn't go home empty-handed. He won this year's Fan Favorite award, meaning that he walked away with $10,000, courtesy of S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.

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