Cast Blog: #80PLATES

It's in His Lisp

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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

Barcelona or Bust

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

It's in His Lisp

Hugh attempts to pronounce Barcelona and recap the rest of this episode.

It's all in the lisp. Bar-sthhhhh-ce-lona. Say it loud and say it proud. Whenever I say it, I sound like a lisping lush.

We find ourselves on the bus to Barcelona. Nookie was a professional poker player. Nicole was getting married, but not in North Carolina. Keven is into hermaphrodites. I pause the show for 10 minutes to drink some bourbon. I am in no shape to face this sober.

They have to find the Telefreeka. I don't know what that is either. I am too lazy to Google. My Spain time was spent in Madrid and San Sebastien, where I joined a Basque cell to separate from my eyebrow. You can barely understand our language, but we mean business.

Nookie and his Angels are the Black team: Nookie, Nicole, Jenna, Avery, Liz. This team is entirely based on slow runners, which surprised me because Nookie looks svelte. Nookie also doesn't like heights, unless it's the Big Green Wall at Fenway.Bowl of Sausages is the Red Team: John, Keven, Chaz, and Nick. Chaz and Keven are both the alpha dogs in this team dynamic. I can’t quite pick out who says the immortal second grade line, "Boys rule, girls drool" but this makes me fear for cooties, yearn for recess, and long for the days when our biggest concern was what happened on The A-Team.

They must cut, ink out, and clean a bunch of seafood. Chaz has no experience at cleaning fish. How do you get through working in a kitchen without that experience? Keven mentions that he "is going to take the 'Exceptional Ingredient' to bed tonight." His words. I picture him with a hermaphrodite monkfish. Even Keven would need beer goggles to sleep with a monkfish -- it's the ugliest fish in the sea.

Red Team is way ahead of Nookie's Angels but Nookie shows up and he's a speed freak with the monkfish, like a meth head taking down a case of Mountain Dew. Chaz is literally trying to pull the flesh off the merluza -- butcher. The inking of the sepia is the hardest (but best paying) job on this fish dock.

Nookie is pretty skilled at s--t-talking. Chaz is not. You have to be a confident person to s--t talk like Reggie Miller, but his chatter is not enough and the Black Team wins the EI, the wonderfully large red shrimp. Gambas Rojas will be cooked.Off to the market! Strategy is key, and both teams seem to be pretty messed up but these boys are having a pissing contest within their own team, and their team meeting is a catty experience. If I was on that team I would be rolling my eyes until I got dizzy and passed out in the periwinkle department of the market.

“Look at these peppers right here…” Shut up Keven. Shut up Keven. I am not even there and this guy is driving me up a wall. Chaz is so fed up with Keven’s quest to find “Don” Pedro Jimenez Sherry. How can you not find PX sherry in Spain? PX sherry is made from the Pedro Jimenez white grape and the sherry is a dark, very sweet syrupy thing. Wonderful on ice cream or flans. Chaz is like Honey Badger and just doesn’t give a s--t ,and wants Keven to grab some cava. Oh Chaz, lighten up! Keven is still sore from sleeping with that monkfish.

Chaz is concerned that they are going to be serving a pot luck dinner to Jose Andres. I had one of the most memorable dinners in the last five years at Jose’s hidden restaurant in Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas. The eight seat gem of a resto is called e. You should go. It rocks. I would be nervous to feed him too.Drinky time and we learn that Avery has two daughters who she misses immensely. Me too. This industry is hard on family and even worse when we travel a lot.

Jenna is trying to form an alliance with Nicole and Nicole is having none of it. Lone wolf is Nicole. Keven is cheesing around trying to find friends too but not getting very far.

Nicole is crying over spilt milk, or less-than-setup custard.

Keven is front of the house for the Black Team. Keven is probably not the greatest choice because he’s crazy. Jenna has a degree from the internets on Hotel–spitality Supremacy. She likes taking notes and when people don’t understand why she’s writing a culinary sequel to War & Peace.

Keven is the most reticent Maitre D' in history. He really just does not want to be out there. AWOL is very descriptive.

Sergio, Javier, Jose, Cat ,and the Aussie Blond Bombshell. Jose explains the reverence for the Gamba Roja!Here’s the menu with comments:

Red Team:
Merluza Crudo with Gambas Rojas, Lemon Aioli, Squid Ink
Evidently you don’t serve the Merluza raw, but if you do, DO NOT cut it up with a dull axe.

Monkfish with White Beans, Monkfish Liver Mousse, Chorizo
They love it. Looks messy but their monkfish is really cooked well. Monkfish likes to be cooked medium and then rested before serving. It relaxes it. No joke. For once I am being serious. This fish is “yousy,” Catalan for juicy.

Cava Sabayon, Cake Crumbs, Marconas and Fresh Fruit

Black Team:
Tapas Trio- Chorizo Croquettes, Merluza Crudo, Date Wrapped with Serrano Ham
They love it. Looks pretty. Looks good.

Serrano Wrapped Monkfish with Liver, Sauteed Greens, Pan Con Tomate
Love the idea, but the fish is overcooked and the it’s kind of like swearing on the tabernacle to cook Iberico ham.

Bruleed Custard with Macerated Fruit
The custard is soft. Jenna feels kicked in the nuts. This is telling. Liz is crying about failing.

Judging falls and the Black Team wins. Sausages are done. Keven loses and this makes me sad because who will America make light of?

Onwards to Morocco.

Homeward Bound

Avery finally outplayed Nookie.

 

Well, everyone, we made it. And I for one am exhausted. I'm not saying I'm as tired as our chefs, but, y'know, I might be. We see the chefs heading to Uruguay (No, Uruguay!) on a ferry. I love a ferry ride, so this seemed fun to me. At some point, Avery says "Nookie could change his mind at any point." You know who can also change her mind at any point? Avery! But I will stop asking why no one has kicked Nookie off until this point, but it's moot. 

The chefs are issued their Course: they have two hours to shop and prepare a traditional Uruguayan dish, and they are only allowed to obtain their ingredients from three markets. Not only that, but their diners are Cat and Curtis! Liz doesn't seem to have too much trouble shopping, but she does forget to ask the butcher for salt. I was actualy surprised Nookie and Avery thought to ask for salt, knowing it wouldn't be provided. Avery bought her wine before she bought her protein, so she was surprised by the fact that she couldn't get fish. White wine? Chicken it is! Nookie has a seemingly nice idea behind his dish saying, "If I learned anything, it's to talk to the locals." Well, one local led him to a jar of onion jam. But she also said to make a traditional tart. That didn't happen. Nookie made -- and I mean "made" in the most generic way possible -- chorizo (my fave) with the onions. Cat and Curtis weren't too happy that Nookie didn't really cook anything. Even Avery said, "This is a cooking competition, not a reheating competition." Ouch. Also, the jam was too sweet. Liz made a successful steak salad, but it was missing salt. Curtis could tell the addition of sausage was made in an attempt to add some salt, but it wasn't enough. I really do wonder why LIz asked Nookie for salt and not Avery. Any thoughts?!

So, Avery won the Course. Some of the chefs seemed to be confused about whether this was the final challenge -- it wasn't. By winning the Course, Avery won the exceptional ingredient, and definitely the most exceptional of them all -- the ability to choose her finale competitor.And she did it. Finally. She voted Nookie off. Hallelujah. Since i finally met Nookie this past week at our amazing Sneak Peek Finale Party, I feel compelled to say here that I'm not writing "hallelujah" because I don't not like Nookie -- I've just never understood why everyone was OK with him holding all the cards. 

around-the-world-in-80-plates-blog.jpg Me with Nookie and Avery at the 80 Plates Sneak Peek Finale Party

So, Avery and Liz head to... Los Angeles -- their home turf. In L.A., the chefs are met with their Takeover: first they have to choose one chef from each store to act as their sous chef for the Takeover. The chefs are their fallen comrades from countries past. Avery ends up with Jenna (did you see her give Liz the side-eye after her team was done cooking?) and Nick, and Liz ends up with John and Chaz! And all the sous-chefs seem genuinely interested in helping their respective chefs win. Whileeveryone's in the kitchen, Avery and Liz get a very welcome surprise -- their family members! Avery's kids and aunt come to say hello and we meet Liz's boyfriend, Ryan. I always wonder if these little surprises are helpful or hurtful. While Avery obviously wants to see her children, I'd have to assume a little surprise like that would break anyone's focus. And how funny was Nookie with her kids? Ha. 

The other surprise was who the chefs were cooking for. Although they knew they'd be serving Wolfgang Puck since they were cooking in his kitchen at red seven, they had no idea the caliber of their diners -- James Beard winners, nominees, etc. And despite all these pressures and curveballs, they both kind of killed their menus… for the most part. Avery started her meal with her and Jenna's winning papaya salad; then moved on to an apparently perfectly-cooked beef dish with chimichurri. She finished it with tea and a pannacotta. I thought serving tea with dessert was ballsy because if that gets cold, it's ruined. Did anyone else notice that her kids seemed to eat all her food? I was very impressed.

LIz's starter was the majority's favorite dish of the night. She then served a dish that was criticized by someone (forgive me I can't remember who) for not seeming Italian. Mmm it was a simple dish served with dino kale -- seemed Italian to me! She then finished with a play on an empanadas, but her custard didn't set up.

From where I was sitting, it seemd to come down to the best dish vs. the best meal. And Avery was just more consistent, so… she won! Congratulations, Avery! And congratulations to Liz on doing such a fantastic job. 

I'll be recapping Masters which premieres next Wedneday, so hope to see you all over at that site then. If I may say so, I've peeped some of the episodes already, and I swear they're amazing. Until then, Have a Nosh!

 

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