A very exciting finale of Food Network's Tournament of Champions, where the randomizer proved a brutal punisher by pairing some truly unconventional items together. The competition started with ten men and six women, and the best-of-the-best remained to go head-to-head. For the West Coast, we had Brooke Williamson vs Antonia Lofaso; and for the East Coast, we had Amanda Freitas vs Mareet Chauhan.
It was nice to see trash-talking even through the friendly rivalry but most impressive was their focus, technique and immaculate execution. These four amazing women definitely deserved to be in the final round. Their composure, instinct, ability to think (and cook) on their feet with instant creativity, was truly inspiring.
So who drove away in the RAM Truck, bragging rights, and a received a very shiny belt? If you've read my previous posts, I was right. My gut? She will be the next Bobby Flay. She not only showed of skill and passion, but there was just something about her. Every time she ventured into the kitchen, the instinct, the calmness, and ability to tune the rest of the world out, was amazing to watch. The judges really received the best plates of their lives, they couldn't stop eating most of the dishes with very minimal critique.
Tournament of Champions Final Rounds
Round 1: Chef Brooke Williamson vs Antonia Lofaso
- Must use squab, sunchokes, ice cream maker, smooth and crunchy, and 50 min to cook
- Competitors were horrified at having to use the ice cream maker, yet came up with very creative ways to implement it
- Brooke created "Roasted Squab Breast with Sunchoke puree Sunchoke chips and Coconut Ice Cream"
- She kept the ice cream in too long, but was able to fix it before plating getting a smidge flustered in the process
- Judges thought she cooked a perfect squab, it had great balance and was a very elegant dish
- Antonia, one of my favorite chefs delivered "Tempura Fried Squab with Roasted Shitake Sunchoke and Kale Salad with Buttermilk Herb Sauce".
- She tested her food first, made a savory pure using the ice cream maker, and stayed so calm and focused throughout the entire round, it's a shame she lost
- Judges felt her dish was delicious and clever
- Brooke beat out Antonia 92/89 – not surprising, but subjectively sad, Antonia was a tough competitor the entire tournament.
Round 2: Chef Amanda Freitas vs Maneet Chauhan
- Must use goat, lotus root, a spiralizer , dry rubbed and glazed, and 45 min to cook
- Fun to watch the Chopped friends go head to head
- Maneet whipped up a "Korean Inspired Goat Burger with Lotus Root Chips"
- Absolutely mouth-watering juice burger, a fun whimsical dish
- Amanda created a "Glazed Goat Meatballs with Lotus Root Fennel and Squash"
- A rustic dish that became more delicious with every bite
- The win went to Amanda 87/85
Final Round: Amanda Freitas vs Brooke Williamson
- A serious match up, two amazing chef who beat out their entire coast. The randomizer was very cruel to them. This was a very extreme Iron Chef type round as it should be.
- Must use a whole duck, kohlrabi, a turning slicer, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and cooking time 60 min.
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner, three meals to utilize the ingredients in a creative way.
- Amanda created an omelet, a Cuban sandwich and sweet and sour duck
- All three dishes utilized duck in a very successful way and tasted great
- Brooke went super creative on her breakfast a duck egg-in-a-hole, a salad, and duck breast with charred persimmon salsa.
- The judges felt the balance was unbelievable, fantastic presentation and had deep layers of flavors, something that Amanda didn't really present as well – making Brooke our "Tournament of Champion" winner (88/87)
A great first season of Tournament of Champions, with so many wonderful moments. It's different to watch professional, successful chefs in the kitchen. Consider it the opposite of Worst Cooks in America. Will be interesting to see how this tournament affects their careers, and their future competitions. Especially for some chefs like Iron Chef Alex Guarnachelli who was a #1 seed and got eliminated first and by an up and coming chef. Hopefully next year a season two and sixteen new players. Will Brooke continue hold down her tittle and belt?