Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7 recap: Final four battles set

Contestant Maneet Chauhan during Battle 2, East B Matchup Final, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4.
Contestant Maneet Chauhan during Battle 2, East B Matchup Final, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

While Tournament of Champions Season 4 looked to go bigger than previous seasons, one commonality continues in this Food Network culinary competition. Although Cinderella stories, busted brackets and other upsets can have people shaking their heads, the final battles have now been set. The Great Eight was narrowed down to the final four in Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7. Could the Tournament of Champions winner pattern continue for four years straight?

As the Food Network chefs head into a new round, the Randomizer offers another twist. Although there have been few required elements that have really thrown the chefs for a loop, the reality is that these little changes can impact the final dish. More importantly each element shows that these chefs do have a wide breadth of knowledge.

For the Great Eight battles, Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7 increased the cooking time to 40 minutes. In addition, the Randomizer added an international component. Compared to the surf and turf battles, this new element might not be quite as challenging. Throughout this particular Food Network episode, the Randomizer was a little kinder than in seasons’ past.

For the first battle, Jose Garces took on Britt Rescigno. While the audience chose to re-spin the protein (with encouragement from the chefs), the Iberico pork secreto seemed to play directly into Chef Jose’s hands.

The required elements for this battle were Iberico pork secreto, crab apple, todka pan, smooth and crunchy. Giving the Spanish chef a Spanish ingredient led Food Network viewers to think that the Iron Chef had it in the bag. But, the Cinderella story is often filled with twists and turns.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7
Contestant Britt Rescigno during Battle 1, East A Matchup Final, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

Chef Britt impressed the judges with the various textures and flavors. Her crab apple puree was sublime and received a lot of praise. Although her Iberico pork secreto was controversial, the judges did appreciate that she cut it correctly.

On the other hand, Chef Jose made a technical error with his pork when he incorrectly cut it, which made the protein chewy. While there was much technique on the plate and a lot of positives, sometimes the small mistake can be the difference between winning and losing.

In a first in Tournament of Champions history, a number eight seed made the final four. Yes, Chef Britt took down another top seed by beating Chef Jose. It was unexpected in some ways, but Chef Britt is on a roll. Only time will tell if she could actually make the final battle.

For the second battle of Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7, Maneet Chauhan took on Karen Akunowicz. In this battle, there was Food Network Randomizer first, the wild card ingredient. The chefs had to choose a blue or white box, which gave them another required ingredient. In this case, it was camel milk.

The Wild Card ingredient could be a great element to use in future Tournament of Champions Seasons. This little twist could really change the game. While it can be assumed that either ingredient would have worked with all the other elements, it could really mess with the combinations. Hopefully, there will be more of the Wild Card ingredient.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7
Contestant Karen Akunowicz during Battle 2, East B Matchup Final, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

Chef Maneet and Chef Karen were required to make a dish with chicken livers, hearts of palm, tostapane, camel milk, raw and cooked. It was an approachable combination of ingredients and both chefs were able to easily manage them.

As a Nashville based chef, Chef Maneet decided to present Nashville spiced fried chicken livers. The camel milk easily played into that concept. Overall, it played to all the elements in multiple ways. Paired with creative presentation, the dish impressed the judges. Although Chef Maneet could have left off the pate, there was a lot of technique on the plate and the ingredient dualities did not bother the judges.

Chef Karen fried her chicken livers, too. While her dish had a lot of flavor, it missed the mark on the textures. The fried wasn’t as crunchy due to the sauce. Still, when eaten as a single, composed bite, the dish worked.

In one of the biggest point total differences of the season, Chef Maneet beat Chef Karen. As the only former champion in the competition, it seems that Chef Maneet might be on a roll. But, conquering the Cinderella story might not be quite that easy. No matter the outcome, it is guaranteed that the final will have a woman chef vying for the title of Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner.

For the third battle, Mei Lin took on Shota Nakajima. In another audience change, the chefs encouraged a protein change, which swapped duck legs for goat. Seeing goat in this challenge would have been quite entertaining. The required elements were duck legs, sea beans, comal, smoky and spicy. Again, nothing too over the top or difficult presented in this challenge.

Shota stuck to what he does best, Asian inspired flavors. The idea of the pickled sea beans was nice and Chef Shota used the pressure cooker well. While the dish had all the flavors, his duck leg might have needed a little more cooking time. But, a lollipop duck leg could become a new menu trend.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7
Contestant Mei Lin during Battle 3, West B Matchup Final, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

Chef Mei went in a totally different direction. Instead of competition head to head with Asian flavors, she chose to highlight a mole and South American flavors. Her dish was a duck mole with sea bean salsa verde. Although the judges were divided on the duck leg, they all agreed her dish was more satisfying to eat. Overall, the dish was described as flavor exuberance.

Continuing her streak of high scores and confident wins, Chef Mei moves in the final four. The combination of her knowledge and confidence could make her hard to beat.

For the final battle of Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7, Jet Tila faced Adam Sobel. Given that both chefs know each other well, it was a friendly battle, but neither one was going down quietly.

The required elements for this battle were pork collar, taro root, ijabe, sweet and sour. But, the wildcard landed on total re-spin. In a change that no one saw coming, Guy Fieri said that the audience could overrule the wildcard total re-spin. This moment could make some Food Network viewers uncomfortable. If the Randomizer is meant to be difficult and push the chefs, it would have been better to require the re-spin and let the ingredients fall where they may.

Chef Jet stayed in his lane, Asian flavors. The taro, rice and grilled pork collar was described as a flavor showstopper by the judges. It was both cohesive and dynamic. It was clear that the dish hit the mark.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 episode 7
Contestant Jet Tila during Battle 4, West A Matchup Final, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

But, Chef Adam was not going down without a fight. The sweet and sour flavors were clear and the choice to lean into Moroccan flavors was nice. The judges would have preferred a different presentation, but it was a solid dish.

By a two point margin, Chef Jet moved into the final four. Could it be his year to lift the belt? Only time will tell, but it was clear that he was very moved by the experience. As he shared previously, the depth of Asian chefs in this year’s Food Network competition meant a lot to him.

Which chef will raise the Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner belt? Be sure to watch next Sunday, April 9 to find out. The finale airs on Food Network at 8 p.m. or it can be streamed on discovery+.