Let's give it up to the ladies on this week's edition of Food Network's Tournament of Champions, as they wiped their mixing bowls clean with the other contestants. So maybe I'm being a little "girl power" subjective here. The star chefs really stepped it up this week and showed the "new kids on the block" that they might get a lucky win under their belt, but true wins come from experience.
My predication might actually come to fruition since both Antonia Lofaso and Amanda Freitas are in the semifinals. I was very surprised at one more semifinalist as in all the years watching her as a judge I never really thought she was a great chef or had much of a personality, a sense of humor, nor could be so delightful to watch.
The Randomizer was kinder this week – not for the bizarre combination of products and methods but for blessing our contestants with longer times to get creative. Some All Stars really cracked under the pressure, forgetting ingredients, kitchen sink plating, confusing products, and messy presentations – but not everyone. Others showcased brilliant cooking skills that amazed the judges, going wild for aromatics and sheer tactical skill.
Here are some of highlights from episode 4:
Round 1: Chef Amanda Freitas vs Darnell Ferguson
- Must use rack of lamb, nopales (cactus), tortilla press, Mediterranean, and 50 min to cook
- Amanda over complicated things and I should mention won by default cooking up "Pomegranate Molasses Lamb with a Tostada and a Mediterranean salad"
- Judges thought her plating had way too many ingredients on it – it did however taste good.
- Darnell must have gotten either a little too cocky or nervous when he forgot to plate his fry bread.
- His course was a "Moroccan spiced lamb with root puree and pickled vegetable couscous"
- The taste was there, the plating was beautiful, but a main ingredient was missing.
- Most likely Amanda would have been eliminated, but in the end she won 82/78
Round 2: Chef Christian Petroni vs Maneet Chauhan
- Must use short ribs, pomegranate, a tagine pot , Caribbean, and 45 min to cook
- Mareet continues to really impress me, creating a beautiful "Saffron Caribbean stew"
- Stunning presentation, it is rare that I can almost smell and taste the food, but it was so inviting and really matched her bubbly personality
- Christian made "Jerk spiced Korean style short rib"
- Did a fraternity brother whip some leftovers together and dump it on a plate with one eye open?
- The win again went to Mareet (93/89)
Round 3: Chef Jet Tila vs Brooke Williams
- You're going down Tila – sorry, too soon.
- Must use Salmon, bitter melon, a meat grinder, Middle Eastern, and cooking time 50 min.
- Jet really showed off some amazing technique "Golden raisins bitter melon stuff salmon fillet with Israeli couscous".
- The dish was gorgeous, and stuffing the salmon was sheer perfection, it was sadly missing salt and pepper
- Brooke shined with her "Salmon with Garbanzo ragout and bitter melon relish"
- The perfect salmon sear, the judges could have probably consumed 10 of her plates, it was exceptionally executed.
- Brooke destroyed Jet 94/83
Finally, Tournament of Champions is down to two West Coast and two East Coast contestants, all oozing estrogen. Brooke will battle Antonia; while Amanda will try to take down Mareet. Who will prevail? If I was a betting gal, I'd say Brooke and Antonia will be photo-finish – and while I want to say Antonia, Brooke just has a vibe about her that says underdog win. Mareet has seriously been stepping up her game, while Amanda lost her mojo a little this week. It's a tough call, my gut? Brooke will drive home in a brand new car.