Tournament of Champions recap: Time to re-write the rules?

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

In Tournament of Champions season 2, the twists and turns have had Food Network fans wondering if the NCAA tournament wrote the script for this culinary competition. While upsets were expected at some point in this series, no one would have expected the most recent outcome. Is it time to re-write the Tournament of Champion rules?

With six chefs seeking the final three spots in the semifinals, it was a combination of emotions in the kitchen. Although all the chefs wanted to win, a few chefs seemed more focused on the challenge at hand. With the randomizer controlling the chefs’ fate, the reality is that the judges control the outcome. Did anyone predict this week’s scenario?

For the first battle, Tiffani Faison took on Darnell Ferguson. Even though Chef Tiffani had scored some big victories, this battle would not be a walk in the park.

With a spin of the randomizer, the wheel provided whole chicken, curry leaves, coconut opener, Greek and 30 minutes. Looking at this ingredient mix, the combination really doesn’t go together. Curry and Greek is not a fusion food on anyone’s plate.

Listening to the judges’ feedback, it was not as glowing as previous battled. While Chef Darnell had a flavorful dish, it lacked “Greek-iness.” It was interesting that Chef Darnell only used chicken legs and the judges didn’t focus on that fact. How are chicken legs the whole chicken? Shouldn’t that reduce his score?

Chef Tiffani was criticized because the judges could not taste the randomizer in the dish. But, looking at all of her components, she had creative applications. From using different parts of the chicken to the full flavor, her dish was successful.

With a score of 85 to 80, Chef Darnell beat Chef Tiffani. This result was somewhat confusing. In some ways, Tiffani worked the randomizer better, but her efforts were not rewarded. Maybe there is concern that another all-woman chef semi-final would not make for an interesting bracket battle.

For the second battle, Chef Maneet Chauhan took on Christian Petroni. It was another re-match, but no one was expecting a different outcome. In many ways, it might have been Chef Maneet’s battle to lose.

The randomizer offered pork belly, shitake mushrooms, French press, Western European and 35 minutes. Did anyone find it odd that Guy Fieri hit the randomizer to get it “unstuck” Why didn’t he spin it again? Isn’t there a “rule” or “ruling” in this scenario?

The dishes saw Chef Christian’s cassolet versus Chef Mannet’s glazed pork belly stroganoff. While both chefs incorporated all the components, they were very different. Even more interesting, it was a dish that didn’t include her signature spices. In some ways, the dish was quite subdued.

While the dishes were good, they were not extremely innovative or exciting. Compared to other battles, it was just ok. If either of these dishes were part of the previous round, these chefs might not have had a chance at the semi-finals.

In the end, Chef Maneet beat Chef Christian with a score of 83 to 80. Again, it was just a little lackluster. With all the impressive dishes from earlier rounds, Food Network fans wanted a little more.

For the last battle, it was definitely the most creative and entertaining dishes of the evening. As Chef Antonia LoFaso took on Chef Jet Tila, everyone was waiting to see the unexpected outcome. There was something brewing in the Food Network kitchen.

The randomizer provided Dungeness crab, kumquats, spaetzle maker, North African and 30 minutes. This set of ingredients could go in a variety of ways and the two chefs had very different approaches. Chef Antonia went with a crab cake and Chef Jet served a fried crab.

While both dishes had amazing flavors and interesting techniques, Chef Jet used the spaetzle maker correctly. Chef Antonia used it to steam dates. That concept seemed to not use the kitchen tool in the best possible way.

Even as the judges commented on the two dishes, they seemed torn. Both dishes were equally impressive. That statement is a little more telling than it seems.

As the scores were revealed, there was an exact tie. Not only was the total the same but the individual scores were too. To say that this outcome was shocking is an understatement.

Even though this outcome is a total fluke, the strange part is that there is no tie breaker or recount or something. Making the two chefs battle again is crazy. Why wasn’t there some type of tie-breaker? Maybe a new rule will go in place for Season 3.

With the Tournament of Champions finale next week, Food Network fans should expected more unexpected. If you have money on Brooke Williamson retaining her belt, you might want to make sure that you can pay off that gamble.

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What did you think of the tie outcome in Tournament of Champions? Was this scenario the really possible?