March Madness Food Fight 2012

The biggest players in the food biz duke it out for glory

The annual NCAA March Madness tournament is roughly 90 percent about buff college basketballers duking it out on the court and 10 percent about having an excuse to dream up brackets that pair other kinds of opponents against each other. (Which condiment reigns supreme? Which alcoholic beverage is the best? The schemes are endless.) Harnessing the competitive and creative natures that the NCAA tournament so widely fosters, The Daily Meal offers up our second annual March Madness Food Fight — a tournament-style bracketed competition of culinary heavyweights.  

At first thought it may seem far-fetched to compare the refined quality often associated with the dining industry to the gritty nature of college basketball tournaments, but as anyone who has watched an episode of Top Chef or Iron Chef America can attest, rivalries in the culinary arena can be as fierce as those on the court. 

Taking inspiration from last year's Food Fight, we thought it would be fun to pit a roster of culinary superstars against each other in competition. We didn't seed them, but arranged them into four categories: TV food personalities, restaurateurs, chefs, and food writers.

The competitors 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 for reasons beyond their culinary prowess. 

The first-round matchups are detailed below and now the power is in your hands to vote on which participants will advance through each round. Click on the bracket to get an enhanced visual of the battles at hand, and then cast your votes using this survey. Bear in mind that you'll be choosing the victors of each pairing based on the reasons outlined in the breakdown below.

Click here to cast your votes in the  March Madness Food Fight.

Check back here Monday to see who advances to the Sweet Sixteen.

Breakdown: Round One
TV Personalities
Guy Fieri v. Anne Burrell: Who pulls off the hairstyle better?
Alton Brown v. The Chairman: Who is the more outlandish Iron Chef America personality?
Jamie Oliver v. Rachael Ray: Battle of the culinary brand expansion superstars. 
Padma Lakshmi v. Carla Hall: Which Top Chef personality and former model wins?
Paula Deen v. Robert Irvine: Who has the least annoying accent?
Bobby Flay v. Giada DeLaurentiis: Who is the reigning king or queen of Food Network?
Emeril Lagasse v. Cat Cora: Best comeback potential.
Tom Colicchio v. Andrew Zimmern: Who pulls off the lack of hairstyle better?

Joël Robuchon v. Alain Ducasse: Battle of the Frenchies.
Jeffrey Chodorow v. Drew Nieporent: Who is the bigger New York City scenester?
Keith McNally v. Danny Meyer: Who pulls off the buttoned-up style better?
Sirio Maccioni v. Tony May: Battle of the Italian icons.
Wolfgang Puck v. Todd English: Who has the better chain of airport restaurants?
Nobu Matsuhisa v. Jean-Georges Vongerichten: Who wins the battle of the Asian-fusion restaurant moguls?
Gordon Ramsay v. Mario Batali: Who's the king of culinary lawsuits?
Stephen Starr v. Tom Douglas: Battle of the regional powerhouses. 

Chris Cosentino v. April Bloomfield: Who is the reigning master of offal?
David Chang v. Roy Choi: Battle of the "on-the-cheap" empire builders.
Rick Bayless v. Aarón Sanchez: Battle of the titans of Mexican cuisine.
Thomas Keller v. José Andrés: Who is the better role model chef?
Alice Waters v. Dan Barber: Battle of the chef-activists. 
Grant Achatz v. Charlie Trotter: Who is the reigning culinary mayor of Chicago?
Eric Ripert v. Daniel Boulud: Battle of the iconic New York chefs. 
Marcus Samuelsson v. Gabrielle Hamilton: Who has the best personal style?

Food Media
Pete Wells v. Jonathan Gold: Which critic is more cutting edge?
Jeffrey Steingarten v. Josh Ozersky: Battle of the non-food-publication food writers.
Ruth Reichl v. Martha Stewart: Best comeback potential.
Anthony Bourdain v. Eddie Huang: Battle of the pithy one-liners.
Dana Cowin v. Amanda Hesser: Battle of the skinny food writers you should trust.
Mark Bittman v. Ed Levine: Battle of the online media moguls.
John T. Edge v. Ed Behr: Who takes the cake for keeping his head down and writing great stuff?
Robb Walsh v. Pat Sharpe: Best Texan food writer.