HOLLYWOOD—Hands down the best culinary competition on TV right now is Food Network’s “Tournament of Champions.” Trust me, I hate food competitions, I prefer to watch chefs teach culinary skills in the actual kitchen versus competing. The competing aspect is just not that entertaining for me. However, with “TOC” it’s the best of the best and actual titans competing against newcomers and some seasons culinary superstars. We started with 32 chefs and we are down to our final four: Chefs Jet Tila, Mei Lin, Maneet Chauhan and Britt Rescigno. Britt has been the underdog tale all season taking out titans left and right.

First, she took out last year’s reigning champion Tiffani Faison, before defeating Darnell Ferguson, then taking out Iron Chef Jose Garces. Britt, I don’t know much about her, but she has absolutely made a name for herself this season. Tila has been a staple on the series since the first season, the problem is he didn’t have to face Chef Brooke Williamson, who claimed the title in season one, and managed to get to the final round in both seasons two and three.

Why is that a problem? I feel Jet will always have that asterisk of rather he would have made it this far if Brooke was still in the competition. For Mei Lei, I didn’t know much about her either coming into the season, but she cooks with intensity in the kitchen and earned my respect. So it was three battles remaining for a champion could be crowned: Jet Tila vs. Mei Lin and Maneet Chauhan vs. Britt Rescigno. I think I was more intrigued by the Maneet and Britt battle. Maneet wanted to do what no one has done so far: become a repeat winner, while Jet was aiming to become a first time winner.

The Randomizer has been a tough one this season with more taunting combinations, but nothing compared to what this final round has brought to viewers and fans of the series. We didn’t need the whole backstory Guy Fieri; fans have been watching since the premiere of the season. There will be a total of 5 culinary legends judging the semifinals and six plates of food have to be prepared. Hmm, the notion of more judges is interesting because the palates will vary people, I just wanted new judges each round. We don’t need to see the same people judging all the time: how about iconic greats like Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto or Michael Symon anyone?

The Best of the East is first, with Britt and Maneet going toe-to-toe, with The Randomizer choosing a bevy of tricks with the Wild Card. They have to cook Whole Kanpachi, Celtuce, utilize a Himalayan Salt Block, a deconstructed dish, with a total of 50 minutes of cooking time. I have no clue what celtuce is, but I learned it is like asparagus and celery with lettuce on top. This battle looks crazy, as Maneet if cooking 3 separate dishes that are expected to become one, while Britt is going Asian by focusing on a single dish, deconstructed of course. Both of their dishes look stellar people. This is going to be a tough judging.

The judging panel included Iron Cat Cora, Ming Tsai, Lorena Garcia, Nancy Silverton and culinary titan Daniel Boulud. I never heard of Boulud, but apparently he’s a force to be reckoned with in the culinary universe. With five judges, I’m trying to figure out how scoring will take place. I’m guessing each of them receive 20 points to give each? I love seeing the sportsmanship between the chefs on this competition; you can tell they respect one another win or lose.

In the end, Britt’s reign ended with Maneet scoring an 87 compared to Britt’s 80. I think if Britt had separately composed the ingredients she could have possibly taken out Maneet. With that said, I am slightly disappointed the scoring is not higher this season. Season two we were seeing high 90s, and this season we’ve only seen it like 2-3 times and those dishes were composed by Mei Lin, which tells me she might be aiming for the same as she battles Jet.

I was rooting for Jet and Mei’s battle, it seemed like the stakes were higher. The Randomizer gave them Wild Partridge, Yuzu, Confit and the Katsubushi Shaver. I knew all of them beyond the Katsubushi Shaver which is like a Grater that captures the shavings. Partridge is going to be hard to confit because I don’t see it rendering a lot of fat to confit. In the end, both dishes looked stellar, but the judging seemed to lean more in Mei’s favor, so Jet’s journey to reach the finals may not ever happen because he scored 87, with Mei scoring 90. Mei has had the highest scores the entire season people. Will we see Jet again? Yes, he has just been dealt a bad hand of cards in the semi-finals each time. Remember that time he and Antonia Lofaso tied?

So our final battle is Mei Lin vs. Maneet Chauhan for the belt. It just hit me: once again, the winner of “TOC” will be a female. No males have ever won the competition and each final round has been between two women. For this final round the get 60 minutes of cooking time with the Randomizer selecting Side of Lamb, Shiso, utilize the Ice Cream Machine and have a dish that is both Hot and Cold; damn they have to do 12 plates for the judging. That literally just blew my mind people. This is a battle and the dishes that both women comprised were stellar, but Lin’s dish was breathtaking people. I think she has the edge here.

Lin’s hold and cold preparation of lamb dishes were top tier. The judges loved it and it was sensational. This final battle was top tier with one chef scoring a 89 and the other chef scoring a 91. A two-point difference and I have a gut feeling saying that Mei Lin is the winner and I was right! Maneet lost points on the plating. Something about Mei’s dish was just beyond stellar. You know what makes “TOC” so great. We have had a different winner each season proving that anyone can win the belt at any given time. Mei’s win was well-deserved and a true underdog tale and I cannot wait to see what chefs and mayhem erupts for season five.