Tournament of Champions III: Battle Recap – Week 2

Host Guy Fieri, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season provided by Food Network
Host Guy Fieri, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season provided by Food Network /

While Week 1 of Tournament of Champions III saw a lot of new faces do battle with the Randomizer for the first time, Week 2 was a different story. All the chefs with the exception of one had been on the series at least once with some looking for their first ever victory.

In addition, thanks to the way the brackets have been set up, a few key wins could result in some of the best rivalries of the series being rekindled. But first they would have to get past a Randomizer that seemed to be determined to not make anything easy for the chefs.

In fact, the first battle of the night showed just how unpredictable Tournament of Champions can be and how if you aren’t keeping your wits about you, it can result in disaster.

Battle 1
No. 2 seed Amanda Freitag vs No. 7 seed Madison Cowan
Randomizer: Pork Loin/Mustard Greens/Microwave Pressure Cooker/Gooey/30 Minutes

Things kicked off with the return of fan favorite Amanda Freitag to Tournament of Champions. After winning the East Bracket in Season 1 and coming within one point of total victory, Season 2 saw her go home in the first round at the hands of Tiffani Faison. She would be battling Chopped Grand Champion Madison Cowan, who was also sent home in Round 1 last year.

The big curve ball for both chefs was the microwave pressure cooker, a kitchen tool nether knew anything about. Both decided to use it to cook their mustard green as a way to make sure the vegetable was cooked through and tender.

While Freitag appeared to have everything under control from the moment Guy Fieri said go, Cowan seemed to lack any sense of urgency. He roasted his pork loin which everyone found surprising since it would be almost impossible to cook thoroughly in 30 minutes.

Cowan’s lackadaisical attitude came back to haunt him when he realized time was almost up and he had to rush to try and get his dish done. Unfortunately, he came up short and three of the required Randomizer elements never made it to the plate. For the first time, a chef was disqualified and Freitag was given the win.

Who moved on and who went home this week on Tournament of Champions III?

Battle 2
No. 3 seed Tiffani Faison vs No. 6 seed Bryan Voltaggio
Randomizer: Ground Bison/Broccolini/Grain Mill/Crispy/35 Minutes

Tiffani Faison made a name for herself last season when she won the East Coast Play-in and entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed. She went on to defeat the No. 1 seed Amanda Freitag in a stunning upset that left most fans speechless.

The second battle of the night quickly turned into Battle Meatball as both chefs decided the best way to cook the ground bison and keep it juicy was to make a meatball out of it. While Voltaggio went with a more traditional Italian preparation, including Cacio e Pepe, Faison thought a bit outside the box, especially when it came to the broccolini.

The judges enjoyed both with Alex Guarnaschelli saying that Voltaggio’s dish “sent her to Flavortown” which, as everyone knows, is considered the highest compliment on any series Guy Fieri is hosting. However, Giada De Laurentiis had literally nothing bad to say about Faison’s dish, calling it one of the best she’s ever had on the series.

Thanks to that, Faison walked away with a two point victory, 85-83 and set up what could be one of the best battles of the second round: Freitag vs. Faison Round 2.

Battle 3
No. 4 seed Aaron May vs No. 5 seed Brian Malarkey
Randomizer: Top Sirloin Steak/Fennel/Snow Cone Maker/Grilled/35 Minutes

The third Battle of the night saw a couple of Guy’s Grocery Games mainstays duke it out in one of the easier combinations the Randomizer has created so far. The biggest question was how the hell would either chef use a snow cone maker when preparing a steak dinner?

While May, who many people forget learned the culinary arts in France, went with a more traditional steak house dinner, Malarky did what he always does. He threw everything and the kitchen sink on the plate. It turned out the snow cone maker wasn’t as big a problem as people first thought. Both chefs used it essentially as a grinder to chop up their vegetables.

Both chefs made fennel the star of the dish by using it throughout the entire meal and both recieved numerous compliments during the tasting. However, Malarky’s more delicate presentation and better cook on the steak got him a narrow 82-78 victory and his first Tournament of Champions win. He will go on to face the winner of …

Main Event
No. 1 seed Brooke Williamson vs No. 8 seed Crista Luedtke
Randomizer: Boneless Country Style Pork Ribs/Corn/Toaster Oven/Whipped/30 Minutes

Brooke Williamson won the first season of Tournament of Champions and seemed well on her way to repeating as champ until she ran headfirst into Maneet Chauhan. She would be facing newcomer Crista Luedtke, a very successful chef in her own right and Food Network regular.

The biggest issue for both chefs was the pork ribs, which would be almost impossible to get cooked and tender in just 30 minutes. So both went with the pressure cooker to try and get them finished in the time they had.

During the entire battle Williamson was well aware of the fact that in the past two seasons a No. 8 seed has sent a No. 1 seed home. And if any chef had the talent to make it happen it was Luedtke, who seemed determined to earn a win.

Williamson’s potato salad with pork ribs was a hit with the judges, who liked the fact she got her potatoes crispy using the toaster oven. Her pork was tender thanks to cubing it small, which proved to be Luedtke’s downfall as her pork didn’t get nearly as tender as she wanted it to. It resulted in a 85-79 loss and moved Williamson into Round 2.

Next. Top Chef Houston: Where’s the beef?. dark

What did you think of Week 2 of Tournament of Champions III? Did it live up to the hype? Leave a comment below and let us know or join the conversation on our Twitter and Facebook pages.