The Big Problem Fans Have With This Top Chef: Portland Elimination

Leaving a key ingredient off of a judge's plate and still making it to the next round? That's unthinkable, most fans of "Top Chef" say. But it's exactly what has happened twice now with "Top Chef: Portland" contestant Dawn Burrell, a season 18 favorite who has advanced to the finale despite forgetting to complete her plates with all of the required ingredients on two separate occasions, reports Willamette Week. Burrell was chosen to be among the top three "cheftestants" heading into the season showdown over fellow competitor Jamie Tran, and fans have mixed reactions over what some say was an "unfair" judges' decision.

"What I have struggled with this season is seeing Dawn Burrell leave something off a plate on more than one occasion and not pay the price for it as other chefs have through the previous 17 seasons," wrote Brad Cramer of Foodsided. Some Twitter users had similar sentiments. "I really, really don't agree with tonight's 'Top Chef: Portland' elimination," said one Twitter user. Added another, "You definitely shouldn't be considered for the top four or top three if you forget an ingredient. Period. And most especially not twice in two weeks."

Why judges chose Dawn Burrell's dish over Jamie Tran's creation

In the 12th episode of the series, the remaining four contestants were tasked with using Tillamook cheese in five ways in a single dish. Dawn Burrell made braised ribeye with cheddar gougères, sharp cheddar foam, and hot cheddar sauce, Willamette Week reports, but she forgot to add a gougère to one judge's plate. Despite the missing bite, judge Ed Lee "chugged" Burrell's cheese sauce and praised her cooking.

Tran made sea bass with cheddar spaetzle and a sauce that she said was incomplete because she took time away from her own cooking to help other contestants plate their dishes. The combination reminded the judges "why fish and cheese aren't often paired together" (via Willamette Week). Cramer of Foodsided believes that Tran still would have been eliminated even if she had focused more on her own dish, but he still questions whether or not the judges' decision was fair. "It was pretty clear that the judges were puzzled by both the end product and Jamie's thought process," he wrote.

While some fans still stand by their opinion that the show is "rigged" for allowing Burrell to advance despite her missing ingredients, others say her food is just that good. "Her food is amazing regardless of missing items; it's why they keep her," said one fan on Twitter. "The other chefs can have every item but it's not on par."