Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2: Redemption or repeat?

Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2
Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2 / Food Network

In Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2, a few of the battles featured two chefs who have battled previously. Although some competitions were decided by just one point, the outcomes might not have been what everyone expected. Is it time for some upsets to bust that bracket?

For the first battle of the night, Joe Sasto went against Shirley Chung. The two Top Chef finalists battled in previous Tournament of Champions brackets. Even though Sasto has a winning mustache game, it can be hard to be Chung, the dumpling master.

The Randomizer offered turkey breast, endive, toasted, folded, and canned mushrooms. It was clear that Chung was going to make some type of dumpling, which is her strength. The surprise was that Sasto made it the battle of the dumplings.

Chung’s dumpling combined the turkey, mushroom, and endive in the wonton. While the boldly spiced, house-made chili crisp might have made Judge Donatella Arpaia cough, all the judges appreciated the intense flavor. Overall, they agreed that it was a well conceived dish.

Joe Sasto with Justin Warner on Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2
Joe Sasto with Justin Warner on Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2 / Food Network

Sasto also made a turkey wonton. While the judges felt that the canned mushroom was unsuccessful, the endive received high praise.

The biggest note for both chefs was the underutilization of toasted. Using the toaster to cook vegetables did not necessarily get that toasted note. It was a Randomizer miss for both chefs.

In the end, there was no redemption for Joe Sasto. Shirley Chung won the battle and moved into the next round.

For the second battle of the night. Kelsey Barnard Clark went against Tobias Dorzon. Although Clark won Top Chef and other Food Network competitions, she has never won a battle in Tournament of Champions.

The Randomizer offered ground lamb, patty pan squash, food processor, nutty, and strawberry jam. The strawberry jam was a real twist. Using that flavor successfully with the other ingredients was not easy.

Clark made lamb boudin with slaw and hummus. The judges praised how the dish came together cohesively. Overall, she used the Randomizer well, but the lamb was slightly overshadowed. Judge Andrew Zimmern wanted the lamb to be more flavorful.

Dorzon made a lamb with garlic noodles and strawberry sauce. It was Asia meets Italy in this spicy umami noodle dish. While it needed a crispy element, the judges appreciated the dish in its entirety. A few changes would have made it better, but it was good.

With an edge in taste, Tobias Dorzon beat Kelsey Barnard Clark. This battle could have gone either way. Unfortunately, Clark will have to try again to earn her first win.

For the third battle of Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2, Amanda Freitag took on Darnell Ferguson. While Freitag had much success in the first season, it might be time for her to make a run this season.

The Randomizer offered chicken drumsticks, Roma tomatoes, blanched, muffin pan, and instant coffee. Ferguson’s coffee chicken osco bucco was more tomato than chicken forward. In addition, the muffin was unnecessary.

Freitag decided to take the chicken off the drumstick and make a chicken patty. The judges praised her coffee barbecue sauce, but they wanted to see that chicken on the bone. Still, her dish had the flavor that the judges wanted.

Winning this battle was Amanda Freitag. This battle’s outcome might have been expected in Tournament of Champions Season 5 episode 2.

The last battle of the night saw Tournament of Champions qualifier Kevin Lee go against Tournament of Champions Season 1 winner Brooke Williamson. The night was ripe for an upset.

The two chefs had to create a dish using pork loin, cauliflower, ricer, tart, and steel cut oats. While the ingredients were not necessarily difficult, they did not offer a lot of flavor. Oats are a blank slate, pork loin can be lean, and cauliflower is often bland. The challenge was to show some creativity.

Lee’s plate was very messy. While purposeful, the splatter took away from the eating experience. Still, Lee’s dish brought together hot and cold elements. The perfectly fried pork topped with the pomegranate fennel salad was lovely. Overall, the dish hit all the elements well, even if the taste was a little less tart.

Williamson’s dish was vibrant in color and flavor. She used the oats as a crust for her pork as well as an oatmilk for her cauliflower puree. In addition, Judge Ming Tsai praised the pickled hibiscus flower cauliflower. It was a visually stunning plate, with a perfectly cooked protein.

In a twist that no one saw coming, Kevin Lee beat Brooke Williamson. While the plating was an issue, Lee’s taste was superior. The one point win earned him the upset.

Although the last battle of the night was an upset, it might not be the only one in Tournament of Champions Season 5. The first rounds are just at the half-way point. Could another number one seed fall? It is possible. More importantly, could this season see a male chef earn the belt?

Be sure to watch new episodes of Tournament of Champions Season 5. New episodes air Sunday nights on Food Network and can be streamed the next day on MAX.