The Season 5 finale of Food Network‘s “Tournament of Champions” saw New Jersey-born chef Britt Rescigno battle it out against Maneet Chauhan, who took her out of the competition last year.

Unfortunately for Rescigno, history repeated itself. She lost to Chauhan, 86 points to 81.

But on the flip side, host Guy Fieri said the chef will be back next season.

“(I’m) so proud of my dish, so proud of myself. I wanted this so bad,” she said. “But there’s a reason I didn’t get it, and you’ll see me next year.”

Chef Britt Rescigno competes during the East B Second Round Matchup of Food Network's "Tournament of Champions," which aired March 24.

Chef Britt Rescigno competes during the East B Second Round Matchup of Food Network’s “Tournament of Champions,” which aired March 24.

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To get to the final four, Rescigno — an executive chef-turned-traveling supper club owner who won “Chopped” and bested Bobby Flay on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” with her mother’s recipe for chicken and dumplings — beat James Beard award-winning chef Jonathon Sawyer; chef, restaurateur and “Chopped” judge Marc Murphy; and James Beard award-winning chef and fellow Jersey native Amanda Freitag.

“Britt has had such a strong run,” Chauhan said before the two began cooking. “I’ve been so impressed with the techniques that she’s getting to the forefront, so I am worked up. This can be either one of our game.”

The bracket-style cooking competition, which started in February with 32 contestants, challenges chefs to cook with randomly assigned ingredients, equipment and cooking style. The “Randomizer” challenged Rescigno and Chauhan to prepare an “interactive” dish using alligator, a squash called chayote, hay and xanthan gum.

“Do you want to know what’s hard about this Randomizer? The whole thing,” said Rescigno, who lives in Idaho but was raised next door to her grandparents’ New Gretna restaurant, Allen’s Clam Bar, and developed a following cooking in restaurants on Long Beach Island.

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The chef chose to make étouffée.

“I’m taking this Randomizer to the bayou,” she said. “Etouffe is a Southern dish. It’s typically with rice, it uses a dark roux and this beautiful gravy. You can do crab or shrimp, and in this case, we’re going to use a little bit of alligator.”

Rescigno used the tenderloin portion of the alligator because “it usually has more of a seafood flavor,” she said. “I want that little seafood-y nuance to my étouffée because it’s typically made with seafood.”

She served the dish with small glasses of chayote tomato water foam for judges Michael White, Cat Cora, Michael Mina, Lorena Garcia and Eric Ripert to sip.

“I really hope the judges get all of the nuances and techniques that I used to create this dish,” she said. “It’s a hug in a bowl.”

Cora said Rescigno’s dish was a really good effort at etouffe, and Mina liked the flavor of the alligator.

“Gator’s hard to get flavor into,” he said. “Nice dish.”

Garcia said she wanted to see more squash in Rescigno’s dish. Ripert complimented the cooking of her alligator and said “overall, it was a very good dish.”

Chauhan, who judged Rescigno on “Chopped” in 2019, made fried alligator and alligator kebab tostada with chayote salsa and chayote hay sauce.

Cora called the dish “a fun party in a plate.” White enjoyed the flavors of her sauce, and Ripert liked the interaction involved with pouring the sauce over the dish and spooning the components onto tostadas.

Ultimately, it was Chauhan’s interactive elements that contributed to her win.

Rescigno’s last ‘TOC’ journey

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Sarah Griesemer joined the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey in 2003 and has been writing all things food since 2014. Send restaurant tips to [email protected], follow on Instagram at Jersey Shore Eats and subscribe to our Jersey Shore Eats newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Britt Rescigno ends Tournament of Champions run Season 5

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