Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner: Creativity and execution earned top scores

Contestants Jet Tila and Mei Lin watch the Randomizer for Battle 2, West Finale, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4.
Contestants Jet Tila and Mei Lin watch the Randomizer for Battle 2, West Finale, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

As the finale of Tournament of Champions Season 4 began, some Food Network fans were wondering if a similar outcome could happen for the fourth year or if Jet Tila could be the spoiler to women chefs earning the crown. With two battles remaining between these chefs and the title, everyone was wondering if an unexpected twist could impact the result or if the randomizer would be kind to the Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner.

In the first three seasons, women chefs have held the belt high. While Jet Tila has made the final four, he has never broken into the finale. Maneet Chauhan won Tournament of Champions Season 2. But, Mei Lin and Britt Rescigno are ready to make an even bigger mark on this Food Network competition.

For the first battle to crown the Best of the East, Maneet Chauhan took on Britt Rescigno. While Chef Britt might be the Cinderella story of the season, she has a tall task to beat Chef Maneet. At some point, the clock might run out on the fairy tale. While Chef Britt might be the first eighth seed to make the final four, Chef Maneet is a former champion. This battle would come down to executing the required elements.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 finale
Contestants Maneet Chauhan and Britt Rescigno during the Final Four introduction, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

In this battle, the Randomizer offered the chefs whole Kanpachi, celtuce, Himalayan salt block, deconstructed and gain five minutes. Overall, this combination of requirements was relatively straight forward. While the culinary world can debate over the usefulness of deconstructive application, everyone can understand the hows, whats, wheres and whys.

For her dish, Chef Maneet created Grilled Kanpachi with Kanpachi Conift and Kanpahi Ceviche. Throughout these battles there have been both highs and lows with presenting the ingredients in two ways. Although this idea is not a duo, it presents the Kanpachi in varied ways. Granted, there is something to be said about showing the versatility and adaptability of the ingredients.

Overall, the judges appreciated the robust flavors and the complexity of the dish. The deconstructive nature of the dish was clear. Showcasing the various presentations received positive feedback.

Chef Britt made a deconstructive kanpachi fried rice. Although the flavor was a hit, the judges did not see the deconstructive component. It was still a single bowl of rice with ingredients piled on top.

The turning point was the Randomizer. While Chef Britt’s dish tasted good, it did not capture that deconstructive element .Chef Maneet played to the randomizer better and that element was the big difference in her earning the title Best of the East. Chef Maneet moves into the final battle.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner
Contestants Jet Tila and Mei Lin watch the Randomizer for Battle 2, West Finale, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

For the second battle of the Tournament of Champions Season 4 finale, Jet Tila took on Mei Lin. Although Chef Jet has the most wins by any chef on this Food Network show, he has never made the finale. Chef Mei has been on a roll. She has had some of the highest scores all season and has offered a diverse collection of flavors and cuisines throughout the season.

In order to become Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner, Chef Jet and Chef Mei had to take on the randomizer’s offering of wild partridge, yuzu, katsuobushi shaver, and confit. While the chefs had a decent amount of time, mastering the cookery on the partridge is not easy.

Chef Jet presented confit Hainanese partridge and rice. While Chef Jet might have used a great microwave rice hack on this dish, some of the other items were a little muddled. Overall, the dish had a comforting feel and a hearty wintery vibe, which was smart with the game meat. Unfortunately, the judges were mixed on the cookery of the partridge.

Chef Mei made confit and grilled partridge with sunflower seed risotto. This dish was both innovative and smart. While it might not be seen on first blush, the seeds and birds work together. More importantly, the flavors mixed well. Although many food television fans appreciate that risotto is often the cause of an elimination, it can also be the path to greatness.

With a three-point difference, Chef Mei earned the spot in the finale and the title Best of the West. With another 90 score, Chef Mei earned praise with her flavors and use of the randomizer. Although Chef Jet won the presentation element, it was not enough to move into the finale.

At the end of this battle, Chef Jet’s emotion was clear. It is unknown if he is really done with the Tournament of Champion competition going forward, but it has to be hard to come so close yet never make the finale.

Keeping with Tournament of Champions history, the Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner will be a woman. Even if Food Network fans scoff at the randomizer or question some of the seedings, the show has women earning top billing. That aspect is a positive.

Tournament of Champions Season 4
Contestant Maneet Chauhan during the Finale, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

In order to earn the title, Chef Maneet and Chef Mei had the following Randomizer ingredients, side of lamb, shiso, ice cream machine, and hot and cold. The final requirement, hot and cold, meant that the chefs had to present 12 dishes total, not just the six from the last round.

Choosing to showcase her culinary knowledge, Chef Mei presented another style of cuisine that she has not done this competition, Persian lamb stew with lamb tartare. Watching Chef Mei cook is a lesson on technique. From the small cuts in the tartare to understanding how certain ingredients pair well together, anyone who wants to improve their cooking skills or knowledge should pay attention.

Chef Maneet stayed in her wheelhouse with bold spices and layered flavors. She made lamb korma with tandoon lamb chop and shiso lassi sorbet. In addition, there was a granita palate cleanser. From making a quick bread to the complexity in her sauce, her dish was well received.

But, the judges did not appreciate the brown colors in her dish. It needed some vibrancy to invite or please the eye. The judges did dig in, but the first look did not have a wow factor.

Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner
Contestant Mei Lin during Battle 2, West Finale, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 4. /

The Tournament of Champions Season 4 winner was Chef Mei Lin. With another high total, 91 (winning by two points), she provided throughout the season that her food knowledge is impressive and her execution is always on point. Now the Top Chef winner has another title on her resume.

Based on previous winners, Food Network fans might see more of Chef Mei on the network’s programming. Only time will tell.

And will there be a Tournament of Champions Season 5. Based on the show’s popularity, it can be assumed yes. Wonder what twists and turns will happen next season?