Times-Herald (Vallejo)

`Tournament' time: Fieri's bracketsty­le contest returns

- By Michelle Rose

It’s Food Network’s biggest competitio­n event, and this year it promises to be bigger than ever.

“Tournament of Champions” and host Guy Fieri return Sunday, Feb. 19, for a fourth edition, and both the cable channel and the production team promise this season will be “truly anyone’s game” (so said Betsy Ayala, senior vice-president of programmin­g and developmen­t at Food Network).

If you’re not familiar with it, “Tournament of Champions” is like the March Madness of food competitio­ns. This year, chefs from the East and West coasts — including 14 tournament rookies and one defending champion, Tiffani Faison — will take part in Fieri’s bracket-style cooking contest.

Going into the competitio­n, they won’t know who they’ll be up against.

More importantl­y, they won’t know what challenges they’ll face, because those are determined by the ominoussou­nding randomizer — a game element that already made things hard enough without this year’s addition of wild cards, which get harder and harder in each round.

“‘Tournament of Champions’ is the most intense culinary competitio­n ever created. We’ve got single-eliminatio­n, sudden-death, head-to-head blind battles and judging,” Fieri said in a statement. “But of course, every year we’ve gotta up the ante, so we made the competitio­n even more wild and unpredicta­ble with the introducti­on of wild cards in every round. Get ready for some big-time surprises!”

While the action unfolds in front of a live audience, blind judging by a rotating panel of adjudicato­rs — including Scott Conant, Cat Cora, Andrew Zimmern and many more — will determine the winner of each battle. Hunter Fieri will be backstage to capture the chefs’ reactions as they watch the judges’ critiques, while Simon Majumdar and Justin Warner provide play-by-play.

The competitio­n unfolds over the next eight weeks, and after 31 battles, one chef will be declared the tournament champion and winner of the $100,000 cash prize. But Fieri has reserved another big surprise: he’s invited one of the most highly regarded chefs to serve as a surprise judge. Their identity will only be revealed in the April 9 finale.

Who will emerge the victor of the fourth “Tournament of Champions”? Tune in Sunday, Feb. 19, to catch the season premiere, which is available for same-day streaming on discovery+.

 ?? ?? Guy Fieri (center) hosts “Tournament of Champions IV”
Guy Fieri (center) hosts “Tournament of Champions IV”

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