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

The 80 Plates winner answers our questions about her finale menu and kicking off Nookie. Going into Uruguay, what kind of state of mind are you in the moment? How tired are you?
AP: I’m so exhausted mentally and physically! It’s really catching up to me now…. I’m just looking at the light at the end of the tunnel and this is it this is the shot to get closest to the prize! How did you decide what dish to make? What went through your mind when you realized you couldn’t make fish?
AP: I went into the challenge letting the shops make the choices for me. I really just went into each store ready to go into any direction so that I could adjust and make changes as needed. Although I really wanted to do seafood, I knew my ingredients would work well with chicken also. I wanted to try and do something a little different since I counted on the other two going for beef. You make a comment that Nookie could vote you off at any moment — why haven’t you voted him off earlier than this? Like in the last challenge?
AP: I’m not sure what the next challenge will be and keeping Nookie around could benefit me. I do want to go up against the best and I think Nookie is extremely talented, but I’m confident I can beat him as What finally made you decide to vote Nookie off instead of Liz?
AP: I voted Nookie off because he has a tendency to play this game and “work smarter and not harder” as he puts it. I don’t want a repeat of Thailand and somehow he beats me with a tactic rather then pure cooking skill. I think that Liz will battle from her heart and passion rather than on a strategy. Ultimately, I want this to be a cooking showdown. Also, without a doubt Nookie would have sent me home had he the same opportunity. I’m using my smarts in this case and want a safe cooking challenge. How did you feel about your sous-chefs? How did they work out for you?
AP: I was very happy with both my sous-chefs! I would have loved a little time for us all to come up with a game plan before entering the kitchen so that we could have blown some socks off, but ultimately they really worked hard for me in this last battle, and I couldn’t have been happier! They are both very talented chefs, and I respect them in their profession as well as that they both had the integrity to work hard for my win without grudges towards me, since I had voted on sending them both home. When you saw who you were cooking for, what went through your mind?
AP: I‘m honored to once again be serving such amazing chefs that I look up to and respect. The biggest thought on my mind was, “This is not enough time to properly represent what I’m capable of.” Did you get to taste any of Liz’s dishes? What did you think?
AP: I did not get to taste any of Liz’s dishes, but I did see them go out. She had a different take on the task of presenting dishes representative of our trip around the world. I replicated dishes we had done and the tips and authentic flavors from the countries. Her dishes were infused with that thought, but she put her own spin on them. I felt that I did not perform well, and in fact it was one of my off days. So I was extremely worried after seeing our differences. Did you find it helpful to have your daughters and aunt there? Or did you find it distracting?
AP: When my girls walked in it completely threw me off! I just wanted to hug and kiss them after being so long without them. It was a complete tease! Also, being so exhausted, it was straining enough to keep myself together. What went through your mind when Cat and Curtis announced the winner?
AP: I was in shock! I really thought I had done myself in with my off day! Of all days to not be 100% it had to be the finale! WTF! I came into this competition purely for the exposure to new cuisines and the opportunity to compete with other professionals. My only goal was to not be sent home first, and I exceeded my own expectations! Then, I was just so excited that I had made my girls so proud. They never doubted for one instance that I was a winner, and I fulfilled that idea for them. Priceless! I’m proving to my girls what hard work, integrity, and determination will bring. We know you get a car, but what are you going to do with the rest of the money?
AP: The money is a down payment for a new house for my daughters and myself. I’m so happy that I’m able to provide this for them! How has the fan response been so far? Any updates to your career, etc. since the premiere?
AP: The fans have been absolutely amazing! I have gotten such a great response from everyone. It’s still surreal to me how many supporters I have! I’ve also gotten a good amount of other amazing chefs showing support! I’m always so hard on myself, and it’s so awesome to see all these people who seem to really respect my work and talents. I’m so humbly thankful for every person who has shown support -- truly amazing!

Careerwise, I’m looking forward to a few amazing opportunities. I have had offers continuing work with Chef Ramsay and his incredible team! I look forward to working with other chefs and hoping this might open those doors. I will always continue to cook at private parties and events and hoping that this will peak potential clients interest in contacting me. I also am looking forward to doing some more restaurant consulting! Of course a show of my own would be a dream come true, and I might even invite Nookie to come on. Ha! Honestly, that would be a great show!! Ha! What was the most memorable moment for you all season? What was your best dish?
AP: Most memorable moment would have been arriving in Morocco! My eyes opened to the possibilities of adventures in countries I would have never imagined visiting! Hearing the chanting and being in that city with the chaos and people was life changing for me. I am so thankful for the traveling experience. What celeb chef would be her ultimate to cook for?
AP: Cooking for or in Thomas Keller’s kitchen would be amazing!! Anything else you’d like to add?
AP: I am so extremely thankful for the opportunity of being on the show the overwhelming support from my two inspirations in life Zoe and Sophie, friends, family, other chefs, and fans. Thanks to all the other talented chefs on the show and of course Chef Stone and Chef Cora for being great mentors and the whole production team! Life has a way of throwing some serious curveballs, and perseverance and faith in the opportunities that lie ahead of the dark corners kept me going and paid off tremendously. I believe that remaining humble, thankful, and continuing to be open are the keys to being a great chef and individual, and I will always stay that way so that I can further myself professionally and personally. I look forward to the next chapter and what else life and my career has in store for me….

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