Cast Blog: #80PLATES

Barcelona or Bust

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Avery Pursell: "I Felt That I Did Not Perform Well"

Final Destination

The Suspense is Killing Me

Homeward Bound

Food Reigns

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Meat Sweats

Atta Girl!

The Final Four

Axis of Evil

Big Trouble in Little China

The Future is Hong Kong

Rocket Science

The Third Opium War

Cheating In Chiang Mai

Under the Radar

The Thai That Binds

Okie Dokie

Full of Bologna

Troop Bologna?

Pick Up Your Game!

My Baloney has a First Name it’s J-E-N-N-A

When in Rome...

Super Tuscan

That's a Spicy Meatball!

Villa-ins

Down in Africa

Funky Cold Medina

Spice Girls

The Art of Culinary War

Prawn Stars

It's in His Lisp

My Retirement Plan

Allons-y a Lyon!

Truly Exceptional

Lyon for Lambs

Truck Nutz

Playing the Game

The Dog's Bollocks

London on a Plate

Piss and Vinegar

Barcelona or Bust

According to Curtis Stone, Chaz is lucky to still be around.

This week brought our chefs to Barcelona, Spain, a city known for its rich and complex Catalan cuisine. Barcelona—and Spain, in general—is home to some of the best chefs in the world. But great food is not necessarily just the work of talented chefs. Some of the most talented people in the food industry are the fishermen and farmers who catch, cultivate, and prep the food with a craftsman’s respect and skill. 

So it was great to start our chefs off at the Clock Tower at Port Vell. Seafood is such an important part of Catalan cuisine, and it’s always amazing to see ingredients in their raw form. Even better was watching our chefs experience the often thankless task of fabricating the daily catch. 

Some chefs struggled while others like Nookie clearly knew how to work a knife and just got down to business. The Red Team won the exceptional ingredient, red prawns, but the Black Team had the upper hand. Nookie had lived in Barcelona and Jenna is fluent in Spanish. I know which team I would rather be on.Chefs have egos (no big surprise there) and these chefs are in competition, so there’s bound to be frustration. But you can’t win without being a team player. We all know Keven doesn’t listen and Jenna gets under people’s skin. But she speaks multiple languages, which has made her a valuable asset to both her Lyon and Barcelona teams.

It was so incredible to sit at a table at Dos Cielos with José Andrés and twin brothers Sergio and Javier Torres. The new age of Spanish chefs is just taking the world by storm. (The 2012 tally of the 50 best restaurants in the world lists three Spanish restaurants in the top 10.) And Andrés is leading the charge of incredible Catalan chefs, a crew that includes the Torres brothers. Not only are they handsome devils, they’re truly chef’s chefs. They’re in the kitchen at Dos Cielos every night and the night I dined there, the food was outstanding. When you’re cooking for this caliber of chef, you feel the pressure. So our young chefs were definitely sweating it out. The Red Team really missed an opportunity with their Merluza Crudo with Gambas Rojas. Red prawns are called the truffle of the sea. They are traditionally served whole and diners suck the juice out of the head, which is ridiculously sweet. It should have been the hero of this dish, but it was completely overshadowed by Chaz’ merluza. By scooping it out with a spoon, he lost all the texture of the fish, and it ended up a mushy mess. It was a big mistake. Quite frankly, he's lucky to still be around after serving a dish like that.

The Black Team, on the other hand, wowed everyone with their first course. Kudos to Nicole for her Trio of Tapas. Liz’s Bruléed Custard with Macerated Fruit didn’t turn out the way she intended, but the diners liked it. In the end that’s what matters in this competition—and as a chef. It’s critical to keep the diners happy. Whether critics love or hate your food makes no difference if there isn’t anyone filling the seats.

In the end, Keven’s personality did him in and Chaz dodged a bullet. Congratulations to Nookie for being the most valuable chef -- he really earned it.

See you in Africa! 

Final Destination

Curtis Stone explains the importance of traveling for a chef.

 

We’ve reached the finale! What an amazing journey we’ve had. 10 countries in 44 days, and at last we have our final two. Congratulations to Avery and Liz! This wasn’t an easy competition and getting to the finish line is quite an accomplishment. 

But first, we had Uruguay. I’ve said it often in this blog: Nookie played this game like a pro. But while there were similarities to Survivor, this competition was at its heart about great food. I was so glad to see Avery choose Liz for her Los Angeles opponent. As she said, when it came to the final showdown, she wanted to go up against someone who would bring everything she had to the table and treat the food with integrity. That sure describes Liz. 

I think the final challenge to make three dishes, inspired by their travels was perfect. I believe every chef should travel as much and as often as possible. It’s a beautiful way to learn and be inspired and expand your palate and sensibilities. Back in their own kitchens, chefs then can creatively integrate the foreign flavors into dishes that speak to all corners of the globe while also catering to the palate of their own culture. It’s how food evolves with respect and reverence.Of course, Avery and Liz had to cater to the palates of some seriously extraordinary chefs. Melisse’s two-star Michelin chef Josiah Citrin, James Beard winners Brendan Collins and Carolos Tomazos from Waterloo & City, and of course the legendary Wolfgang Puck, who has both designations under his belt. 

Both Avery and Liz did an outstanding job. In the end, just four votes made the difference. Avery has been such a superstar throughout this competition and Liz has shown an incredible passion for food. A huge round of applause to Avery and all of our chefs. Your culinary journey around the world is only beginning.