Boston restaurateur Tiffani Faison won the third season of the culinary competition show “Tournament of Champions” Sunday night, taking home $100,000 — the largest cash prize in the history of the Food Network.
Faison took a break from helming her many Boston eateries — Italian restaurant Orfano and Sweet Cheeks barbecue, both in the Fenway, and Bubble Bath and others in the new downtown High Street Place food hall, all under her Big Heart Hospitality restaurant group — to appear on the show, hosted by Guy Fieri.
The show, which began with 32 contestants, is structured as a bracket-style competition, with top East Coast and West Coast chefs pitted against each other. They whip up meals determined by a randomizer machine that assigns a protein, another ingredient, a piece of equipment, a style of cooking, and a time allotment. Initially, Faison — who also competed in the second season of “Tournament of Champions” — was placed in the third seed for her region.
In the finale, Faison went head-to-head with the season one winner, Los Angeles chef Brooke Williamson. Their assignment? To cook rabbit and nattō (a Japanese fermented soybean) on an anti-griddle, preparing one of the ingredients three different ways in an hour. Faison emerged victorious with, among other dishes, a fried rabbit leg atop a puree of sweet potato and nattō.
“Tournament of Champions is the hardest, most challenging cooking competition in the world,” said Faison in a press release. “It takes every ounce of knowledge, experience, grit, and fight you have to succeed. I learned more about myself with every battle and I learned more how deeply talented the other warriors in this tournament are. Every week is a test that requires your whole heart to show up and then takes your breath away.”
Faison, who was named a James Beard finalist for the Best Chef: Northeast award last month, is no stranger to high-stakes cooking competitions. She was the runner-up in the first season of “Top Chef,” and is a regular judge on “Chopped,” also on the Food Network.
The third season of “Tournament of Champions,” the channel’s highest-rated series to date in 2022, is now streaming on discovery+.
“Winning has been one of the most affirming and rewarding experiences of my life,” said Faison. “It is the literal culmination of the work, commitment, and dedication I’ve invested in my career. I’m so deeply grateful for this opportunity. This is magic.”