Cast Blog: #80PLATES

The Final Four

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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!

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

Barcelona or Bust

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

The Final Four

Curtis Stone breaks down the competition heading into the finale.

 

We’ve reached the semi-finals of this culinary competition and the chefs’ strengths and weaknesses are out in full force. Avery loves a culinary challenge—and she’s skilled enough to pull it off. Nookie, aka the master strategist, plays this competition like a high-stakes game of craps. John, the Midwesterner, is solid and steady, while Liz keeps her head down and ends up exceeding everyone’s expectations.

It’s not too surprising that Nookie won the Exceptional Ingredient again. It’s only shocking that it took him so long to think of selling the whole lot of empanadas to a vendor! What Nookie and Avery won was truly exceptional. Like so much of the Argentine culture, meat is prepared (and consumed) with incredible passion. Asado is the traditional dish of Argentina and asadors, or grill masters, are revered for their ability to cook the perfect piece of meat. 

One of the beautiful things about Argentine meat is its simplicity. A touch of oil and a bit of salt and pepper is all beautifully cooked slice of goat, lamb, or beef needs. But getting that meat to be good enough to stand on its own is no easy task. Kudos to Avery for once again taking on the hardest job and really shining. Asadors are overwhelmingly male—and Argentine—so in addition to cooking an amazing goat, she broke a few stereotypes along the way. But it was Liz, with her unique combination of corn and chorizo empanadas who really wowed the locals. She took a chance and it really paid off.On the disappointing side was Nookie’s skirt steak, which was overdone. And the chimichurri shouldn’t have been on a hot plate. As for John, he had good instincts. Argentine asados do include salads, but they’re commonly simple like an ensalada mixta (lettuce, tomato, and onion) or potato salad. His Roasted Vegetables with Provolone Cheese & Eggplant Puree just didn’t fit the bill.

At this point in the competition, it’s really difficult for any of these chefs to go home. They’ve come so far, learned so much and cooked some great food. Congratulations John for making it almost around the world. See you all in Uruguay. 

 

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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.