Tournament of Champions Season 1 Episode 2 review: Randomizer is the equalizer

Host Guy Fieri with competitors Amanda Freitag and Elizabeth Falkner, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network
Host Guy Fieri with competitors Amanda Freitag and Elizabeth Falkner, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network /

As round one continues, Tournament of Champions could see more upsets. In some ways, the randomizer is the ultimate equalizer.

Last week’s Tournament of Champions saw Alex Guarnaschelli eliminated by just one point. In a way, that outcome proved that every chef must prove herself on the plate. It doesn’t matter the rankings or the accolades. The chef who has a spot in the next round must earn it.

Another three battles happened in the second Tournament of Champions episode. First up, the battle of Marc Murphy versus Christian Petroni seemed to have inklings of the Alex vs. Darnell battle in episode one. While Marc is a talented, well regarded chef, everyone was wondering if Christian could pull off another “upset?”

As the randomized determined the parameters, the requirements were beyond difficult. With ingredients like shrimp, carrots and stuffed, the chefs had a tall order. It wasn’t necessarily the easiest combination.

Has anyone wondered if an ingredient, tool or cooking method can be repeated. So far, there have been no repeats. Is that intentional or just part of the randomizer?

Looking at the two dishes between Marc and Christian, they were rather evenly matched. While totally different approaches, each one had highs and lows.

The biggest difference would be more of a stylistic approach. Marc had a more old school feel with his stuffed tomato where Christian’s stuffed squash was slightly more modern. Both have their appeal, it just depends on the judges’ on that moment.

In the end, another upset occurred in round 1. Christian took down Marc. Although this outcome might not be as shocking as last week’s upset. In some ways, Christian might have had an edge on Marc from the start.

Tournament of Champions
Host Guy Fieri with competitors Marc Murphy and Christian Petroni, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network /

In the second battle, Amanda Frietag took on Susan Falkner. It would have been nice if these two women chefs did not have to battle each other in the first round. While there is a balance of women to men chefs, sometimes it would be nice to see more women win in these competitions.

This battle had some strange elements. The pork cut was a curve ball. it was a tough protein to cook well in limited time. The use of the French fry cutter and squash was odd, as well. The only manageable item was sour.

The two dishes were very, very different. Amanda took a more simple approach. While her use of traditional French fries might not have been super innovative, everything was prepared well.

Susan seemed to have a slightly more creative approach to the dish. From the use of the pressure cooker to the overall concept, the dish seemed to push the envelope. Still, there were aspects that were a little funky.

In the end, the judges preferred Amanda’s dish overwhelmingly. Even though the dishes seemed equal, the outcome was more definitive.

Tournament of Champions
Competitor Richard Blais, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network /

For the final battle, Beau Macmillan took on Richard Blais. During the rankings reveal, Blais was not happy about his lower ranking. Still, the ranking is just a number. These chefs need to prove their worth with the food on the plate.

Unfortunately, the randomizer was not kind to Beau and Richard. The combination of ground lamb and broccoli is not common, or ever done. Everyone was really confused with those ingredients.

In a way, Richard had a good idea with his dish. The idea of using the lamb in a Salisbury steak twist was smart. But, the other parts of his dish were slightly off. As many chefs have learned in cooking competitions, too many additions can cause problems. The fried broccoli was one too many broccoli items.

Beau went with a Moroccan style dish. His lamb fritter was well seasoned, but parts of the dish were a little disjointed. The touch of sweet was definitely not expected.

Still, the judges appreciated Beau’s creativity. Overall, his execution gave him a slight edge and he took the win over Blais. Guess, the rankings rang true in this battle.

Tournament of Champions
Host Guy Fieri with judges Nancy Silverton, Ming Tsai, and Marcus Samuelsson tasting contestant Elizabeth Falkner’s dish alongside chef Justin Warner, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network /

While these battles are entertaining, the biggest factor isn’t the creativity, the plating or the execution. Truthfully, it is the randomizer. Like the old reference in any cooking competition, the adaptability of the chef is key. If the chef can see the ingredients, method, etc., then the dish isn’t going to work.

The chefs who have won all the battles didn’t have a throw away ingredient. They found a way to make a composed plate that had a touch of edge. That combination will be the reason why a chef wins. The number next to their name has no impact.

With two more round one battles left, it is interesting that there hasn’t been one major misstep, yet. Give the previous clip, it seems possible that one battle might come down to the final seconds. Could a chef forget an ingredient or not plate a dish?

Still, based on what has been seen so far, any chef could win this competition. In many ways, the uncertainty is keeping Food Network fans watching Tournament of Champions. After all, it is the only bracket tournament left.

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What has been your favorite Tournament of Champions battle so far? Do you think that a favorite has emerged?