Britt Rescigno discusses TOC, grilling, and a great meatball recipe, interview

Britt Rescigno for Pre Brands
Britt Rescigno for Pre Brands / Pre Brands

Two seasons in a row, Britt Rescigno exceeded expectations on Food Network’s Tournament of Champions.  While the celebrated chef captivated the screen with her culinary creativity, that food knowledge is not limited to solving the food ingredient question posed by the Randomizer. During a recent conversation with the chef, Britt shared why her Food Network family inspires her, the secret to becoming a better griller, and the must have meatball recipe that will make any home cook a culinary champion.

As Food Network fans appreciate, Tournament of Champions pushes the chefs’ culinary creativity. From the Randomizer to the pleasing the judges’ palates, the competition has busted more brackets than March Madness.

In Tournament of Champions Season 5, Britt Rescigno rose to the final four. After being considered the Cinderella story of Season 4, her rise to the top, again, solidified her position as a Food Network great.

While nothing is ever set in stone, doing as well or better season after season is often a chef’s goal. When asked if she felt pressure about her Season 5 performance, Britt said, “To be honest, my strategy is always to be 100% true to myself. Last year I just felt so honored and so in awe to be a part of such an incredible competition. This year, the pressure was huge coming in as a two seed. No one wants to be a one hit wonder, so I felt like I had a lot to prove.”

Even though she did not make the finale, being in the Final Four is a big accomplishment. More importantly, her food choices during the competition showed that she is always willing to push the envelope.

One of the most exciting moments of Tournament of Champions Season 5 was when Britt chose to make a fresh ravioli. Like some top culinary competitions have shown risotto to be a fool’s errand, fresh pasta is rarely attempted in Food Network competitions.

When asked about her decision to make the pasta, Britt explained, “Homemade pasta in such a short amount of time, and, in a competition setting, is never a great idea. There’s a lot of variables that could go wrong, so to answer your question, no. I wasn’t determined at all to make pasta. However, when the ingredients and equipment leant themselves to something like a ravioli, being Italian, how could I not?”

Britt continued to explain, “There are always some tricks that help speed the process along. I used the food processor to make my dough, which kneaded it for me quickly. I used the vacuum sealer, which forced hydration into my dough, and the blast chiller got my filling cold quickly which ensured that my pasta didn’t fall apart. These were all tricks that I wouldn’t necessarily use regularly, but in a pinch, ensured it was a successful dish.”

Understanding the “game” aspect to the Randomizer and its impact on Tournament of Champions is key. That ability to process, adapt, and execute in the limited time frame is key to Britt’s success on the show.

When asked how her knowledge and experience helps her in the food competition, Britt shared, “As a chef, I spend a ton of time thinking about how ingredients play together. The randomizer is a very extreme version of what I do every day. So when it’s time for competition, I look at the randomizer and whatever pops into my head first, that’s what I’m going with. I try not to think too much, just go with my instinct and stick to my guns.”

She continued, “Experience is always something that helps when it comes to competition. Pressure and cameras can make it hard to keep track of time. It’s all nerve wracking stuff, but the more you do, the more comfortable you become.”

Over the years, Britt has appeared and been successful on numerous Food Network programs. While each one has its benefits, she was clear about her favorite. Britt said, “By far my favorite show is TOC. It was my dream to be on that show one day and I feel so honored to be on it two years in a row. Meeting Guy Fieri had been a dream of mine since I was in high school. Being in an arena with some of the best chefs that I have truly looked up to for a long time has been a dream come true.”

While earning the accolades and praise has been helpful for people outside of the Food Network arena to discover her culinary acumen, it has been beneficial for Britt, herself. She explained, “Being on Food Network has helped me so much in my career. It has helped me gain confidence in not only MY food, but as a chef in general and is something I am thankful for everyday. The networking with incredible chefs and entrepreneurs has been amazing, and being able to get advice from chefs with incredible careers and experiences is priceless. I’ve found some of my best friends and mentors through the Food Network family.”

Having learned to appreciate that guidance has been helpful to her culinary career, Britt wants to share some of her knowledge to home cooks. While there may not be a Randomizer looming over the weeknight dinner preparation, a better understanding of great ingredients and proper cooking techniques is key for any home cook to succeed.

Recently, she partnered with Pre Brands, a grass fed frass-finished beef brand. Since some home cooks are learning to master the grill, Britt offered some great advice for anyone who wants to tame the flame.

Britt said, “First and foremost, start with a quality ingredient. I always choose a grass-fed and grass-finished beef and Pre is my choice at home. If you start with a low quality product, you’ll get a low quality result.”

Specifically, Britt recommends a ribeye. She said, “A ribeye is a great entry cut. It has a good amount of delicious fat, so it’s very forgiving, meaning it will stay nice and juicy even if you overcook it slightly, it will remain nice and tender.  

After that food concept is mastered, it is onto the method. Britt said, “Second, don’t oil your proteins! Oil creates a barrier to your seasonings. Season your proteins and oil your grill or pan. Lastly, don’t be afraid to season. Use plenty of salt! Salt penetrates and seasons your entire protein creating a delicious and flavorful crust.”

Since some women may not feel confident about taking the tongs away from the men in the family, Britt encourages them to step up to the grill. She said, “Grilling is for everyone!  A nice hot grill makes for an easy and reliable meal any night of the week. With Pre’s perfectly portioned cuts of beef, grilling is made simple. For example, take Pre’s 10oz New York strip and season well with salt and pepper. Get your grill nice and hot and rub the grates with oil when you’re ready to grill. Throw your steak on and let cook for 2.5-3 minutes on each side. Flip only once! Once cooked 2.5-3 minutes per side, pull the steak and let rest for about 8 minutes on a cutting board. Then slice and serve! There’s nothing to fear with grilling. It’s my favorite way to cook.”

If a cook is not quite ready to brave the flame, Britt has another recipe that will earn applause from everyone at the table. Drawing on her Italian roots, her Sexy Meatballs recipe could become a new family dinner tradition.

Here’s how to make Britt’s Sexy Meatballs.


1 medium onion

3 garlic cloves

1lb  Pre 85/15 ground beef

¼ # Italian sausage, mild or hot

3 eggs

2 sprigs oregano, chopped

¼ cup basil, chopped

1 tsp chili flakes

¾ cup pecorino cheese, grated

½ cup heavy cream

¾ cup panko

Salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor add your onion and garlic. Pulse until it is finely chopped. 

In a large bowl add all your ingredients except your panko. Mix well. Add in your panko and mix just until everything is well combined. Let sit in your refrigerator to let all the flavors become one, at least a half hour.

Preheat your oven to 425.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium high heat and add a small amount of oil. Make a small patty with your meat mixture and cook in your skillet until cooked through. This is your tester to make sure you added enough seasoning, adjust with salt and pepper if needed. YUM! Everyone loves a chef snack!

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Time to start balling. I like to use a cookie scoop to make my meatballs, that way they are all the same size. Once all your meatballs are balled, cook in your oven for 20 minutes or until fully cooked. 

From there the possibilities are endless! Meatball subs, spaghetti and meatballs, a fantastic pizza topper or my personal favorite, over polenta! 

From a delicious meatball recipe to mastering that next beef dinner, Britt Rescigno has some easy to follow advice for any cook. With her culinary knowledge and desire to push culinary boundaries, future success of Food Network programs, like Tournament of Champions, seems likely, Tournament of Champions Season 6 will be here before people realize it and Britt is ready to take on that challenge.