Tournament of Champions III: Battle Recap – Week 7

Host Guy Fieri with competitors Maneet Chauhan and Christian Petroni, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network
Host Guy Fieri with competitors Maneet Chauhan and Christian Petroni, as seen on Tournament of Champions, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network /

What started with 32 of the best chefs the culinary world had to offer is now down to eight. And by the time the night is over that number will be further whittled down to four. The winners of all four brackets will stand revealed and one episode will remain before the Tournament of Champions III winner is crowned.

But first, there are the quarterfinals to get through. And for the occasion the difficulty of the Randomizer has been dialed up a notch. The categories now include a global reach with proteins, produce and equipment most people have never heard of. There are going to be some very unhappy chefs by the time the wheels stop spinning.

On the judges’ panel there are the usual trio of culinary superstars who who ultimately decide who stays and who goes home. They include Scott Conant of Chopped fame, the foodie icon Nancy Silverton and the first female Iron Chef and Tournament of Champions II competitor Cat Cora.

Battle 1
No. 1 seed Jet Tila vs No. 3 seed Shirley Chung
Randomizer: Chapulines/Cassava/Idli Cooker/Paella/35 Minutes

First up is the battle to determine who will win the West Coast B bracket between two masters of Asian cuisine. Tila seems determined to take the belt this year and is cooking at a very high level. All that stands between him and that happening is Chung, one of the best of the newcomers to Tournament of Champions.

Well, her and a Randomizer with a mean streak. chapulines are essentially grasshoppers and cassava a type of root. How to take those and make a dish reminiscent of paella is anyone’s guess.

Both chefs stuck to their roots and went with in an Asian direction with Chung making Cassava and Chapulines Noodles with a Saffron Sauce. While they liked it, all three judges didn’t see the paella part of the Randomizer represented while Cora mentioned that the dish is just too rich.

Tile countered with a Cantonese Fire Pot Rice with Chapulines Dumplings and Fried Cassava. Making dumplings against Chung, the Queen of Dumplings, was incredibly risky but it paid off as the judges thought they were amazing. They also thought his dish worked better as a traditional paella

Tila walked away with a convincing 80-71 and became the first member of the Final Four.

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

Battle 2
No. 1 seed Brooke Williamson vs No. 2 seed Michael Voltaggio
Randomizer: Pheasant/Jackfruit/Chamba Pot/Bibimbap/35 Minutes

Honestly, when the brackets were first announced this was the fight everyone was hopping to see. The Williamson/Voltaggio Tournament of Champions rivalry has been one of the highlights of the series and to see them go at it once again is every foodie’s dream. Voltaggio was giving off intense vibes before the battle started as he wanted this win really bad.

The Randomizer was a bit kinder to the chefs in Battle 2 with the biggest issue becoming trying to create a dish that will remind the judges of bibimbap in just 35 minutes. Bibimbap is a Korean street food dish that includes rice, an egg and vegetables. Cooking rice in 35 minutes would be very hard to pull off.

But that was exactly what Williamson went for making a Poached Pheasant and Jackfruit Bibimbap. Luckily her rice was cooked, but just barely and Conant really voiced how much he liked it saying he wanted to take the rest of his home.

Voltaggio went in a similar direction but how he prepared the pheasant was completely different, making a Korean Fried Pheasant, Kimchi and Jackfruit Bibimbap. His fried peasant was a big hit but the judges were left wanting for more bibimbap flavors.

Williamson earned a one point 84-83 victory, won the West Coast A bracket and remains undefeated against Voltaggio. She is now one step closer to reclaiming her title.

Battle 3
No. 4 seed Karen Akunowicz vs No. 7 seed Tobias Dorzon
Randomizer: Stone Crab Claws/Truffles/Chengdu Hot Pot/Coq Au Vin/35 Minutes

The East Coast B bracket comes down to a pair of Tournament of Champions rookies, one of which is the lowest remaining seed in Dorzon. The pressure of the situation got the better of the chef for a moment but he rallied and seemed confident that he could pull out the win.

Which was good because the Randomizer was not kind to the chefs. Coq Au Vin and Crab Claws are not usually used in the same sentence, much less the same dish. Add in just 35 minutes to cook and it was going to be a difficult battle.

Dorzon went very literal with the Coq Au Vin aspect of the Randomizer and elevated it, making a Stone Crab Coq Au Vin with truffles. Cat Cora called it “sexy” however the other judges thought it might have been a bit too literal.

Akunowicz on the other hand went more for her interpretation of the dish, making Truffle Stone Crab with Farrotto Coq Au Vin Style. Unfortunately her farro, which takes a long time to cook, wasn’t quite done yet when she had to begin plating.

In the end Dorzon got a 82-79 victory and won the East Coast B bracket, earning a standing ovation. Dorzon was brought to tears by the win and we could be seeing a repeat of how Williamson won Season 1 in the making.

Main Event
No. 1 seed Maneet Chauhan vs No. 3 seed Tiffani Faison
Randomizer: Porcelet Loin/Finger Limes/Chitarra/Chiles En Nogada/45 Minutes

Current champion Chauhan has had a difficult tournament so far, barely squeaking out victories in all her previous battles. Now she has to face Faison who took out both Bryan Voltaggio and Amanda Freitag.

The Randomizer was fairly kind except for the Style. Chiles En Nogada is a very specific type of dish that is a pepper stuffed with picadillo covered with a walnut cream sauce. Who was more successful interpreting it would likely come out the winner.

Faison kicked things off in a big way with her Chiles En Nogada and Finger Lime-Rubbed Roasted Porcelet Loin. Conant was blown away by the dish saying it was “freakin” delicious and all three judges loved the filling and the flavors.

Chauhan countered with a Global Chiles En Nogada with Porcelet Filling and Walnut Sauce. They loved the flavors but all three had issues with the presentation, which they thought was too sloppy and that she overused the saffron.

In a huge upset in a season of them, Faison took down the reigning champion by a final score of 83-80, won the East Coast A bracket and the last spot in the Final Four.

Who will walk away the winner of Tournament of Champions III? We’ll all find out next week.

dark. Next. MasterChef returns for Season 12 on May 25

What did you think of Week 7 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.