Tournament of Champions recap: Did the randomizer seem less random?

Host Guy Fieri on set, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 2. Photo provided by Food Network
Host Guy Fieri on set, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 2. Photo provided by Food Network /

During the three first battles Tournament of Champions Season 2, the outcome seemed a little more predictable than expected. Although busted brackets might be on everyone’s mind, this season might be more about the top seeds going through than being set home. Did the randomizer become the predictor?

With the Tournament of Champions Season 2 Wild Card rounds complete, the number eight seeds faced the number one seeds. While the first week of main bracket competitions included two West battles and one East battle, the three culinary competitions seemed slightly more subdue than the Wild Card rounds.

For the first battle, Antonia LoFaso took on Brian Malarkey. In what seemed to be part of a trend for this Tournament of Champions recap, it was a former Top Chef rematch.

As has been seen previously, Malarkey was his boisterous self. While his dish had some impressive elements, it was chaotic. Too many elements needed to be edited. Still, Malarkey’s tip about adding some lard to a cauliflower puree is a great one. It might make people more interested in cauliflower puree.

At the same time, Chef Antonia seemed to find ingredients that fit directly into her wheelhouse. Whether it was the use of the skewer or the flavor profile, her dish seemed like it could be right off her menu.

With the scores revealed, Chef Antonia moved onto the quarterfinals. While nothing is guaranteed, this match-up seemed stacked in Chef Antonia’s favor. No disrespect to Malarkey, but his unfocused plates often do not measure up in culinary competitions.

For the next round of this Tournament of Championship recap, the randomizer set the tone for not so random. With Darnell Ferguson pitted against Marc Murphy, the ingredients seemed skewed in Chef Darnell’s favor. As catfish came up for the main protein, it seemed that Chef Marc’s was doomed, especially based on his reaction to catfish.

Looking at the two chef’s dishes, the plates were on opposite planes. Chef Marc’s classical inspired dish had lovely components, but it was clear that he wasn’t playing to the randomizer. From his turned turnips to the pan sauteed catfish, there were many nods to classic cuisine but a less attempt to pander to the randomizer.

On the other hand, Chef Darnell seemed to have a dish ready in his knife roll. The idea of a Nashville fried catfish seemed kismet for this challenge.

During this Tournament of Champions episode, there seemed to be a nod to both Chopped and Triple G. Just like every Chopped basket has a riddle, it almost seemed that the randomizer had a riddle to solve, too. Were the judges looking for a fried catfish that was blackened (or something close to it) with a turnip slaw?

Based on the ingredients and the better solving of the randomizer, Chef Darnell moved onto the next round. In some ways, the Chef Marc outcome felt like the lack of love that Elizabeth Faulkner received in the Wild Card rounds. Could this idea become the story of Tournament of Champions Season 2?

For the final battle, many people wondered if Brooke Williamson versus Nyesha Arrington would become the Alex Guarnaschelli upset of Tournament of Champions Season 2. Chef Nyesha seemed poised to make a big showing.

As the randomizer revealed the ingredients and the chefs began to compose their dishes, it was quite curious that both dishes were very, very similar. The pomegranate glazed lamb chops were two slightly different takes on the same dish. Maybe the two friends are psychically connected.

Both dishes would have probably won over other chefs. In reality, these two dishes were probably the most creative and difficult ones of the night.

As the judges commented on the dishes, it was curious that Chef Brooke’s slightly over lamb did not receive as much criticism as Chef Nyesha’s dish. While the judges were quite impressed with Brooke’s dish, even taking the plates with them as they left, the reality was it wasn’t perfect.

Nyesha’s dish was quite good, too. In some ways, it just came down to personal preference.

Since only one chef could move on, Chef Brooke retained her title and survived a first round upset. Although the final battle was probably the most exciting of the evening, it still felt a little more predictable that the previous Tournament of Champions season.

While next week’s Tournament of Champions Season 2 might bring more unpredictable outcomes, the reality is that an upset is good for this Food Network show. Which battle will bring that “upset” remains to be seen, but the Cat Cora versus Michael Voltaggio battle seems to be the highlight (based on Food Network clips). Maybe the randomizer will show some less randomness next week, too. Everyone will have to wait and see.

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What do you think of this Tournament of Champions Season 2? Do you think that the randomizer has been a little too helpful?