`Tournament' time: Fieri's bracketstyle contest returns
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+.