Tournament of Champions III: Battle Recap – Week 6

Chefs Justin Warner and Simon Majumdar with host Guy Fieri, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network
Chefs Justin Warner and Simon Majumdar with host Guy Fieri, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network /

Last week saw four chefs punch their ticket to the Tournament of Champions III quarterfinals as the upsets continued and the current champion struggled once again to get a victory. Now the final eight chefs do culinary battle to see who will join them.

Among them is Season 1 winner Brooke Williamson, who seems determined to get her belt back as well as Michael Voltaggio who wants to win the tournament so bad he can taste it. In addition we have a number of newcomers who are quickly making a name for themselves and the one, the only Brian Malarkey.

Standing at the judges’ table are returning culinary legends Nancy Silverton and Rocco DiSpirito who are joined this week by Scott Conant. Conant has been on Tournament of Champions previously but is best know for being one of the regular judges on Chopped.

Battle 1
No. 2 seed Michael Voltaggio vs No. 6 seed Tiffany Derry
Randomizer: Littleneck Clams/Leeks/Oyster Grill Pan/High-End Lunch/35 Minutes

Of all the chefs who have returned to compete on this season of Tournament of Champions, Voltaggio seems the most dead set on getting not only to the Final but winning the whole thing. And he could easily do it too if he keeps cooking like he has.

The Randomizer was incredibly kind to the chefs with the exception of the Oyster Grill Pan which the chefs had to take a moment to figure out how to use effectively. But it didn’t take long for both of them to form a plan and know what they were going to do.

Voltaggio went Italian, making a Vegetable Linguine with Clams and he began second guessing himself the moment he saw who the judges were. He shouldn’t have worried as the judges all loved the dish with Conant saying it was a bit “naughty.”

And while Derry’s Rice Salad with Leek Chili Oil and Grilled Maitake Mushrooms was also a hit, it didn’t even come close to making an impression like Voltaggio’s dish. He cruised to an easy victory with a 93-85 win and proved again that this could be his year.

Which chefs went home on Week 6 of Tournament of Champions III?

Battle 2
No. 4 seed Karen Akunowicz vs No. 8 seed Aarthi Sampath
Randomizer: Skate/Watercress/Spiralizer/Romantic Dinner/40 Minutes

In a battle of Tournament of Champions newbies, Sampath is coming off the huge upset victory in Round 1 against Darnell Ferguson while Akunowicz comes in after a solid seven point win.

Both chefs kept their focus on the Romantic Dinner aspect that the Randomizer gave them, trying to evoke amorous feeling in the judges with their food. Both chefs also went international by making some very exotic dishes that most Americans likely weren’t familiar with.

Sampath made what she called a Kama Sutra Skate with Watercress and Avocado Chutney all on top of Upma, which is like an Indian Polenta. Silverton called her dish “erotic” but all three judges felt her seasoning was off and her use of the Spiralizer was lacking.

Meanwhile Akunowicz prepared a Moroccan-Style Skate with Saffron Couscous and a Watercress Chermoula. They noted that her Skate wasn’t cooked as well as Sampath’s and again, her dish had some seasoning issues.

The result was, for the second time in Tournament of Champions history, a tie. Both chefs scored a 74 but since Akunowicz scored a 26 in the Randomizer category compared to Sampath’s 24 she walked away with the win.

Battle 3
No. 6 seed Einat Admony vs No. 7 seed Tobias Dorzon
Randomizer: Swordfish/Pears/Cedar Plank/Fast Food Favorite/40 Minutes

The second of the two battles featuring tournament newcomers featured two chefs who both pulled off impressive upsets on their way to facing each other, with Dorzon sending No. 2 seed Christian Petroni home. Add to that a fairly easygoing Randomizer and you have all the makings of a classic battle.

Both chefs went a bit outside the box when it came to an interpretation of a Fast Food Favorite. Dorzon made a classic in the form of Fish and Chips topped with a Pear Salsa that had been smoked on the cedar plank. Conant was the only one who had any serious issues with the dish, making note of the knife cuts on the salsa.

By contrast Admony prepared Swordfish Kabobs with Tahini and Asian Pear Salad. Again Conant had a problem but this time with the plating which he didn’t feel embraced the fast food theme. Meanwhile both Silverton and DiSpirito felt that the ground swordfish made for an odd texture that neither particularly enjoyed. Because of that Dorzon earned a somewhat surprising 81-77 win.

Main Event
No. 1 seed Brooke Williamson vs No. 5 seed Brian Malarkey
Randomizer: Razor Clams/Edamame Pods/Meat Grinder/Comfort Classic/40 Minutes

The main event sees the Tournament of Champions Season 1 winner Williamson go up against the very real threat of Malarkey who is a much more talented chef than Food Network fans give him credit for due to his boisterous nature.

This was easily the toughest Randomizer of the night with Razor Clams being one of the harder shellfish for a chef to deal with. That said, both Williamson and Malarkey formed their plan very quickly and knew how they were going to try and get the win.

Williamson went with a true comfort classic, making Razor Clam Chowder with Edamame Polenta Fritters. The judges really enjoyed it and got what she was trying to do, however it wasn’t perfect as both Conant and Silverton thought the Chowder was a bit too thick.

Malarkey made Edamame and Razor Clam Dumplings with a Clam Ceviche. For him the biggest challenge was reigning himself in and not trying to do too much. And it worked as the judges thought his dish showed a chef that knows what he’s doing and a tremendous amount of finesse.

However, his sauce was too spicy with the judges feeling that the heat overpowered the clams and took away from the enjoyment of the dish. It gave Williamson an 87-80 victory and a date with Voltaggio in the Great Eight.

And yes, that means one of the best Tournament of Champions rivalries gets a new chapter. We are lucky enough to get the joy of seeing Brooke Williamson vs Michael Voltaggio Round 3.

Next. MasterChef Junior experienced a chaotic Renaissance Festival. dark

What did you think of Week 6 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.