With the NCAA's March Madness underway, much of America is closely following the duels between the best college basketball teams in the country. But as anyone who has watched an episode of Top Chef or Chopped can attest, rivalries in the culinary arena can be as fierce as those on the court.
We thought it would be fun to pit a roster of culinary heavyweights against each other in a tournament-style bracketed competition. We didn't seed them, but arranged them into four categories: TV food personalities, restaurateurs, chefs, and food writers.
Participants were chosen based on their personalities, their stature in the food world, and, well, because it just seemed fun to put them up against each other (come on, admit it, wouldn't you love to see Ruth Reichl and Martha Stewart arm wrestle?).
We've picked the winners of the match-ups through our Elite Eight (the winners are in bold; the reasons they won are appended below). We weren't judging who was better at his or her job or who was ultimately more important in the scheme of things; we just imagined face-offs decided by some combination of physical and psychic presence and sheer force of character. Click on the brackets below to view the original field.
Now it's your turn to vote on who should make it to the Final Four — and then (next week) who wins the whole enchilada. Vote today in all four polls, found here on our home page and on our Eat, Drink, and Cook channels, to send your favorite food players to the next round. Stay tuned to vote on the final matchup for this year's tournament.
UPDATE: March Madness Food Fight Final Four Results
After tallying the votes from our March Madness polls we are pleased to annouce that the Final Four round of our culinary contest will include:
Keller v. Bourdain
Flay v. Batali
Breakdown: Round One
Guy Fieri v. Marcel Vigneron: Come on. Marcel?
Alton Brown v. Ted Allen: Alton knows everything.
Rachael Ray v. Jamie Oliver: Sorry about the school lunch thing, limey.
Fabio Viviani v. Padma: Fabio's Tweets are funnier.
Paula Deen v. Sandra Lee: Paula eats more bacon.
Anne Burrell v. Robert Irvine: She's beaten him every time.
Adam Richman v. Carla Hall: He'll eat 15 dozen oysters.
Bobby Flay v. Giada de Laurentiis: He has more TV shows.
Joël Robuchon v. Alain Ducasse: He looks more like a chef.
Keith McNally v. Jeffrey Chodorow: Let's see…Minetta Tavern or Rocco's…
Sirio Maccioni v. Joe Bastianich: Sirio has been doing it longer.
Danny Meyer v. Drew Nieporent: What's Drew done for us lately?
Wolfgang Puck v. Nobu Matsuhisa: Pizza beats black cod.
Gordon Ramsay v. Todd English: Gordon is rugby-tough.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten v. Stephen Starr: Alsace vs. Philadelphia.
Mario Batali v. Emeril Lagasse: Emeril has a big personality; Mario has a bigger one.
David Chang v. Chris Cosentino: David is becoming an international restaurant mogul.
Michael White v. Michael Chiarello: Michael has three of the best restaurants in New York City.
Rick Bayless v. Cat Cora: She's an Iron Chef, but he's a Top Chef Master.
Thomas Keller v. Tom Colicchio: Who could beat Thomas Keller?
Alice Waters v. Johnny Iuzzini: She has right on her side.
Grant Achatz v. Charlie Trotter: He's gotten Chicago revenge.
Daniel Boulud v. Eric Ripert: Two superb chefs, but one also serves great burgers.
Marcus Samuelsson v. Michelle Bernstein: He has one of New York's best new restaurants — in Harlem.
The Robs (Robin Raisfield and Rob Patronite) v. The Lee Bros. (Matt and Ted): Can't wait to see what Robs will find next.
Frank Bruni v. Jeffrey Steingarten: Frank doesn't work for Vogue.
Sam Sifton v. Adam Platt: Sam is critic for The New York Times.
Ruth Reichl v. Martha Stewart: Ruth's record is clean.
Anthony Bourdain v. Jonathan Gold: Jonathan's already got a Pulitzer.
Dana Cowin v. Amanda Hesser: Dana has a magazine.
Mark Bittman v. Josh Ozersky: Mark cooks his own food.
John T. Edge v. Francis Lam: John T. is from Mississippi.
Breakdown: Sweet Sixteen
Guy Fieri v. Alton Brown: Guy has better hair.
Rachael Ray v. Fabio: He started drinking protein shakes.
Paula Deen v. Anne Burrell: She can ride a ketchup bottle.
Bobby Flay v. Adam Richman: He's the Food Network king.
Joël Robuchon v. Keith McNally: Vive la France!
Danny Meyer v. Sirio Maccioni: He serves burgers, too.
Wolfgang Puck v. Gordon Ramsay: He sounds like Arnold, so we're not going to mess with him.
Mario Batali v. Jean-Georges Vongerichten: Crocs get better traction.
David Chang v. Michael White: David's more pugnacious.
Thomas Keller v. Rick Bayless: Who could beat Thomas Keller?
Grant Achatz v. Alice Waters: He blinded her with science.
Daniel Boulud v. Marcus Samuelsson: Because he's Boulud.
Frank Bruni v. The Robs: Isn't Bruni's sister the hottest first lady in the world?
Sam Sifton v. Ruth Reichl: He's still in the game.
Anthony Bourdain v. Dana Cowin: He'll eat anything.
Mark Bittman v. John T. Edge: He's become the William Safire of food.
Breakdown: Elite Eight
Guy Fieri v. Rachael Ray: Flavatown trumps Yum-o!
Bobby Flay v. Paula Deen: He doesn't ride ketchup bottles.
Danny Meyer v. Joël Robuchon: Did we mention the burgers?
Mario Batali v. Wolfgang Puck: Del Posto has four stars.
Thomas Keller v. David Chang: Who could beat Thomas Keller?
Grant Achatz v. Daniel Boulud: The young bloods are coming, Frenchie.
Sam Sifton v. Frank Bruni: He has the throne.
Anthony Bourdain v. Mark Bittman: Who would you rather have a drink with?