This week on Food Network's Tournament of Champions, things heated up in the kitchen as the All Star chefs continued to take each other out – under the twistedly gleeful watch of ringmaster Guy Fieri. It truly is a playground for chefs who like to compete and get bragging rights, almost like rivals and friends got dumped in to one kitchen stadium East Coast vs. West Coast, so who will come out on top?
I'm secretly rooting for Antonia Lofaso (Cutthroat Kitchen judge), with two episodes down, no one has yet to receive as high of a score as her – maybe she should consider being the next Iron Chef and possibly replace Alex Guarnaschelli (who was knocked out by the new kid on the block Darnell Ferguson in episode one).
For this episode, the dreaded "Randomizer" tortured the contestants with having to use a mandolin and a deep fryer, while also having the meal grilled. Some All Stars produced exquisite dishes – while others served plates that resembled a 4 a.m. "too much drinking" night out. Floor reporters Simon Majumdar and Justin Warner did a great job providing insight for judges on ingredients and creative uses of protein, produce, equipment, and style.
Round 1: Chef Christian Petroni (Food Network Star) vs Chef Marc Murphy (Chopped)
- Must use shrimp, carrots, a mandolin, stuff it, and 35 min to cook
- Christian's dish was "shrimp and squash with shaved brussel sprout salad and carrot sauce
- It resembled some serious abstract art, and not in a good way, the plate with very messy and looked disjointed, I'm all for eclectic, but it didn't look appetizing, yet tasted good.
- Murphy created a "fregala stuffed tomatoes and shrimp"
- The mandolin was used to slice the carrots, and the dish was visually appealing. The judges however felt that it lacked in taste a little.
- The win went to Christina 75/74 with taste beating out presentation.
Round 2: Chef Amanda Freitag (Iron Chef, Chopped) vs Chef Elizabeth Falkner (The Next Iron Chef, Super Chefs)
- Must use pork blade steak, squash, a French fry press, make it sour, and do it all in 40 min.
- Amanda delivered Mojo Pork Blade Steak with Crispy Fries and Zucchini Noodles salad
- She is an absolute joy to watch on camera, so focused, yet fun, and competitive but not in a vicious way.
- Her dish was perfectly cooked!
- Elizabeth made "Kung Pao Pork Stir Fry with Spaghetti Squash Salad"
- Her dish was pretty, but lacked the flawlessness that Amanda showcases
- The win went deservingly to Amanda 92/82 – a possible candidate to take the win for the entire competition.
Round 3: Chef Beau Macmillan (Iron Chef America, Battle American: Kobe Beef) vs Chef Richard Blais (Top Chef)
- Must use ground lamb, broccoli, a fryer, grill the dish, and cooking time 30 min.
- Beau cooked up "Moroccan lam fritters with grilled broccoli salad".
- Great presentation and creativity
- Richard created "Ground lamb Salisbury steak with broccoli topped salsa verde"
- Quite frankly resembled something an amateur would make. Don't be mistaken, simplicity is great when it's perfectly executed. This however, just looked like someone dumped left overs on a plate and called it a day.
- Not surprisingly Beau beat out Richard 81/76
As much as I enjoyed the first episode of Food Network's Tournament of Champions, the follow up to it was unimpressive. I wouldn't be so disappointed if I was watching Worst Cooks in America with the expectation that they will actually produce unimpressive dishes, but this is an "All Star match-up", and some of the dishes were just utterly sub-par. The judges – in all fairness – were too kind, and some chefs shouldn't have received scores that broke the 50 mark, assuming 50 just means you put "something" on a plate. The hope is next week will redeem itself.