Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 5 recap: Surf, turf, and more upsets

Contestant Shirley Chung during Battle 3, West A Matchup 5, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4.
Contestant Shirley Chung during Battle 3, West A Matchup 5, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

As everyone has learned with bracket season, upsets can and will happen. As seen in Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 5, the Cinderella story is not limited to the hardwood. In the Food Network’s second round battles of surf and turf, some chefs scored with the dueling proteins and others were off the mark.

After the first round of Tournament of Champions Season 4 saw favorites like Tiffani Faison and Antonia LoFaso being eliminated, everyone was wondering who would be next on the chopping block. Looking at this year’s food competition, the tide could be turning. Whether it is finally the season for a male chef to hoist the title remains to be seen. But, the randomizer will continue to bring havoc to the competition.

In order to make it to the Elite Eight, the chefs have to battle a surf and turf challenge. The Randomizer has replaced the produce requirement with two proteins. With a set time of 35 minutes, the wildcard is still in play. In some ways, that element change has been a big advantage in this Food Network culinary competition. It has given some chefs an advantage and avoided some precarious food combinations.

For the first battle Darnell Ferguson took on Britt Rescigno. After her win over Tiffani Faison, Chef Britt is building her confidence. But, Chef Darnell knows a thing or two about chef showdowns.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 5
Contestant Darnell Ferguson and Ambassador Justin Warner during Battle 1, East A Matchup 5, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

The requirement for this challenge was lobster tail, longbone ribeye, meat grinder and champagne brunch. Although the meat grinder seemed like an obvious use, kudos to Chef Britt for using it on vegetables. Similar to Iron Chef, the unlikely application shows creativity.

The judges thought that Chef Darnell’s beef had no umami. By putting it through the meat grinder, it lost some texture. In addition, the double starch was not appreciated.

With Chef Britt’s dish, the judges commented that it felt like a fun Las Vegas brunch dish. It showcased the premise of surf and turf. It was a hit.

In the end, Chef Britt defeated Chef Darnell. She has now knocked off two heavy favorites in the Tournament of Champions competition. But, can she go three for three?

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 5
Contestant Eric Adjepong during Battle 2, East A Matchup 6, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

For the second battle of the night, Jose Garces took on Eric Adejong. Their ingredients were Arctic Char, lamb loin chops, deli slicer and game day feast. This set of randomizer ingredients might have been a layup for the chefs.

Chef Jose choose to make two dishes, lamb harissa nachos and an Arctic Char slider. While the judges debated whether the fish was overcooked, they appreciated the bold flavors on the nachos. It felt like a meal served at an elevated World Cup celebration.

Chef Eric decided to showcase a traditional Trinidad and Tobago dish, Doubles. Served on a fry bread, the concept was good but the bread might have absorbed a little too much oil. The judges raved over the peanut relish, but that element was not part of the Randomizer requirements. Unfortunately, the limited use of the deli slicer was Chef Eric’s downfall.

Winning the second battle was Chef Jose. When asked about his upcoming battle against Chef Britt, he had the quote of the night. “It might be time to knock Cinderella’s shoe off.” Food Network fans will have to wait for the Elite Eight round to find out.

For the third battle of the night, it was a competition of mentor versus student with Adam Sobel taking on Shirley Chung. This battle might have had the most obscure theme, reinvention of a classic dish. Given that the theme could be taken in many directions, the two dishes were quite different. Using calamari, lamb, and pressure cooker, it was hard comparing the two dishes.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 5
Contestant Adam Sobel during Battle 3, West A Matchup 5, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

Chef Shirley decided to reinvent a miso ramen. While a difficult dish to reinvent, the judges praised her flavorful broth. One criticism was the spice level. Although the judges wanting to keep on eating, it was not necessarily perfect.

With Chef Adam’s dish, he decided to reinvent a classic Nobu dish, calamari pasta. His interpretation of the theme might be a stretch, but the dish was a hit. Although Chef Adam could have used the pressure cooker more, he extracted a lot of robust flavor from his components.

In this battle, the mentor beat his student. By just two points, Chef Adam won.

For the final battle of the night, Jet Tila took on LeeAnne Wong. While both chefs have experience in these culinary competitions, the Randomizer luck gods were on their side in this round. The required ingredients were yellowfin tuna, veal cutlet, egg poacher and guilty pleasure. Again, nothing too out of the ordinary for these two Asian chefs.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 5
Contestant Jet Tila during Battle 4, West A Matchup 6, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

Chef Jet choose to do a Singapore laska. In some surprising commentary, the judges felt that the dish had a lack of seasoning. While it did not have too much fat, the dish could have benefited from a boost of heat, or even salt and pepper. Still, overall, it was an enjoyable dish.

In Chef Lee Anne’s dish, she focuses on the guilty pleasure of mayonnaise. Both the veal and the tuna were prepared in two ways. While her spin on the dish had good intention, there were elements that were confusing. Unfortunately, it did not come together successfully in the allotted time.

The winner of the final battle of the night was Chef Jet. Could he finally go all the way on Tournament of Champions Season 4? Only time will tell.

Tune in next week to see which chefs complete the Elite Eight. Could more upsets destroy another bracket?