Meat Sweats

Again: why won't anyone vote Nookie off?!

Welome back, my little empanadas! I hope you all had a restful and delicious July 4th. We're almost at the end -- this week in Buenos Aires represents the penultimate episode. We're down to four.

Avery had to pick her partner for this episode and obviously selects Nookie, leaving John with LIz to team up. Let's get right on Course. First, the chefs have to take a taxi to the Rincon Norteno Empanada Shop. There, they have to make and sell 80 empanadas to the locals. While none of the chefs claim to have any empanada experience, John makes a comment that he used to make calzones at a pizza shop, and they're the same thing. Honestly, he's not too far off. Avery says that since she and Nookie are used to cooking for the masses, they have an advantage. And apparently she was right. They plow through their empanadas much faster than John and Liz, partially due to the fact that Liz burned an entire batch. Has anyone else noticed that Liz has a sense of urgency in her interviews, but she doesn't seem to have it in the kitchen? She knows what she should be doing, but just doesn't do it! Poor, John. 

The next goal for both teams is to find Parque Rivadavia and sell 150 pesos worth of empanadas. Nookie and Avery actualy get off to a slow start, selling each empanada for $5. This is mostly due to the fact that Avery does her math wrong. Liz actually very astutely says that her team could sell two for $5 and still have enough. Althoguh I thought this actually might pay off for them, it doesn't. Nookie and Avery still win. Avery is thankful to have Nookie on her team and she should be. I think it woud have been a very different scenario had Liz made that mathematical error on Nookie's team -- he wouldn't have been as forgiving. Also, on a total sidenote, how awesome were the locals? When Nookie offered one gentleman kisses from Avery he replies, "My woman is enormous," implying she could fight Avery. I lost it over this. After selling their empanadas, the chefs have to find Cat and Curtis at Puerto Madero. Although John and Liz are the more athletic pair, Nookie and Avery still win -- rickety subway and all. Next time I complain about the NYC subway (I'm a bus girl), i will remember that thing they rode on. Yikes. 

For the Takeover, the chefs will be serving a family-style Argentinian meal at La Tranquera. I have actually never been to an authentic Argentinian restaurant, but I love meat, so I don't know what I'm waiting for. Since Nookie and Avery won the Exceptional Ingredient, they get time to see how to properly grill meat Argentinian-style. This includes goat, which Avery then takes on as her dish. Nooie goes with a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, which sounds like Argentinian food for dummies to me. Liz tries to redeem herself from earlier by making empanadas, which is either really smart, or really, um, not smart. John makes a vegetable dish. 

Let's start with Liz, who makes chorizo and corn empanadas, which are literally two of my favorite things on earth, so I would've loved to try these. Everyone enjoys them. In fact, one of the locals asks for a recipe. And in case anyone was wondering, you eat empanada with your hands. She wins Most Valuable Chef, which we'll get back to in a moment.

The diners also love Avery's goat, probably the most traditional of all the dishes. Avery reveals her favorite part of cooking is butchery and filleting. I think this says something about her but i'm not quite sure what that is.

John's vegetarian dish shockingly did not go over well with the Argentinians. I actually think he would've been cut some slack by Curtis, etc. had it actually tasted good, but the execution was still a little off. I'll never fault someone for trying to balance a meal by including a vegetable, though.

And Nookie cut his meat, which is a huge no-no. And it was overcooked. Since the meat continues to cook at the table, it just went way over. And he knew that but obviously said to Cat and Curtis that he didn't take it into account. His chimichurri was also sizzling.

So the vote was down to John, Avery, and Nookie. Although I thought John was slightly delusional in thinking he was part of the real alliance, Avery did say "I have an alliance with Nookie and John." Yet, John got voted off. I have to say I'm continually confounded by people not voting for Nookie. I really think if Avery had voted for him, she could've focused on beating John and LIz in the final -- two people who remain their own worst enemies. But now she has to worry about one of the best competitors in the competition. I just don't get it. Although Cat praises Avery for wanting to win against the best in the finale, which I can appreciate, at this point in the game, I don't believe Nookie would have done the same. Also, I don't know that Nookie has proven that he's the best chef, so Avery could've felt OK about voting him off. But, anyway...

Next week we'll find the chefs in Uruguay! Until then, Have a Nosh!



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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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