The Truth About Crista Luedtke From Guy Fieri's Tournament Of Champions Season 3

Unlike some of the other proven champions who are entering the third roster of Guy Fieri's "Tournament of Champions," Crista Luedtke originally worked in the mortgage industry, an unlikely profession you'd see on any of Guy Fieri's shows. So how did she make it on Guy's show as one of 32 participating chefs?

Forbes reports that the force that pushed her from one type of work to the other was her dog, Boon. Luedtke didn't like leaving Boon behind, and this prompted her to change careers, which at first was meant to be a restaurant. Her mother cautioned against that and suggested a B&B instead, and taking inspiration from her own travel experiences, Boon Hotel & Spa was born in 2008. But the entrepreneur didn't stop there. Per SFGate, she did open that restaurant she dreamed of, Boon Eat + Drink was established in 2009.

Luedtke's vision grew and according to Sonoma Magazine, she opened the Big Bottom Market in 2011, and El Barrio tequila, a mescal and bourbon bar, in 2014. In 2019, Luedtke's expansion continued with the opening of Brot, a restaurant offering German cuisine that pays homage to the food her parents served at their restaurant in Wisconsin.

One does not get onto the "Tournament of Champions" by being a serial entrepreneur though. You need to cook and compete on television programs.

The chops of a champion

Luedtke's television career began in 2013 when she was invited to participate in "Guy's Grocery Games," which she won. Then, as she recalled for Forbes, they had been impressed enough to ask her back to compete in a championship episode. "I said, 'Sure, why not? I won $18,000 in one day, I'm happy to take another crack at this," she shared adding of her experience, "I happened to win the whole thing, which was completely unexpected." Since then, she has often appeared on "Guy's Grocery Games" as a judge, as well as "Beat Bobby Flay" and "Guy's Ranch Kitchen."

In addition to the more typical Food Network fare, Luedtke has served as a subject for the 24-minute documentary, "Empire on Main Street" which dives into her passion for the industry that has cost her marriage as well as the local outcry as some thought her expanding business presence in one town was overkill. "[The restaurant business] owns you," she told Forbes, continuing, "It consumes you. But if you love it, it's what you should do." 

We'll have to see if that passion pushes her further than the other 31 competitors on "Tournament of Champions." After all, there is a $100,000 prize at stake.