As the first rounds finish on Tournament of Champions, Food Network fans wonder if the seedings were just wrong or is this competition just unpredictable?
Busted brackets are an understatement on Tournament of Champions. As the last two first round battles finish, Food Network fans have come to expected the unexpected. Whether it is the impact of the randomizer or the battle match-ups themselves, it seems that the perfect bracket was not in anyone’s cards.
In on the last two first round battles, Michael Voltaggio took on Brooke Williamson. It was the battle of the Top Chef winners. While Brooke was seeded 7th, she could have been seeded higher. In a way, this battle deserved to be in a later round.
The chaotic randomizer gave the chefs chicken breast, radish, spice, pastry bag and 30 minutes. To say that this combination was cruel is the ultimate understatement. Still, given the chefs Top Chef experience, they were going to nail this challenge.
Brooke made a dish filled with flavor and texture. The fried chicken breast was complimented with a spicy ragu of lentils, and a pine nut parmesan cream. The dish had a spice which was subtle and builds. To say that Brooke was impressive is an understatement.
Michael made a stellar dish as well. His Moroccan spicy chicken with pickled watermelon radish was vibrant in both color and flavor. While the judges were nitpicking, they mentioned that it could use a touch more salt.
In the end, this battle had two of the highest scores so far. The final score, 96 to 90, gave the edge to Brooke. If Michael was facing a different chef, it would have guaranteed him a win. Again, this battle should have been in a later round.
For the last first round battle, Chef Maneet took on Chef Rocco. It seemed that this battle had the least amount of air time. It is surprising that this battle just seemed to fly.
The requirements in this battle were chicken thighs, smothered, panini press, and kale. After looking at the ingredients, it seemed likely that Maneet was going to prevail.
In the end, her chicken tikka masala was simply stunning in presentation and flavor. By smothering the chicken twice, she basically secured her win.
Overall, the best part of the first round was the number of upsets. If Tournament of Champions was supposed to be different than other Food Network competitions, it has done that job. No one would have predicted that Alex Guarnascelli would be gone. The same can be said of Brooke Williamson’s win.
As it has been said, the randomizer is the equalizer. While the chefs are producing their most spectacular dish, there is a little game play involved. It is a competition and there is only one shot to get it right.
In the first round two battle, Chef Antonia took on Chef Beau. Also, the randomizer had new ingredients and twists. Now, instead of a flavor, it is a region.
Has anyone noticed that there was not a single repeat in round one? If these ingredients were truly random is does seem unlikely that there wasn’t a repeat. Then again, maybe each battle had a new set of ingredients.
In the Antonia vs Beau battle, the chefs had to use quail, bok choy, a mortar and pestle. Also, the style had to be European. Who put bok choy in an European dish? That twist was definitely outside of the box.
Antonia went in an Italian style. While risotto is normally the cooking show kiss of death, she executed the brown butter risotto well. Overall, the dish was perfectly balanced. It had lots of European technique yet was lovely. It was definitely a strong dish.
Beau took a trip to Spain with his dish. The quail under a brick was nice. The dish was overall well-thought out, but the dish was quite rustic. The judges felt that the dish might have been too rustic.
In a huge win, Antonia moves into the semi-finals. So far, she has had commanding wins. Could Tournament of Champions be hers to win? Truthfully, a match-up of Antonia versus Brooke (if that happens) would be epic.
Next week there will be more battles as the semi-finals are set. Maybe this Food Network show will have a woman chef champion. In some ways, that outcome would be a good one.
Are you watching Tournament of Champions? What has been your favorite battle so far?