Around The World in 80 Plates: A Cooking Show That's Not Really About Cooking

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NBC/Universal
Aounr The World in 80 Plates: Scavenger hunt with chefs.
In the cable television equivalent of a librarian turning into a call girl, Bravo television has reinvented itself. It used to be the channel for quality television centered on the performing arts, now it's a channel filled with people who need their meds refilled (or the dosage upped).

Top Chef continues to be a true contest and incubator for great chefs to get their name out into the world with as little staged drama as possible, so we had (sort of) high hopes for Around The World in 80 Plates. Hopes were dashed.

Here's the premise (tell us if you've heard it before):

Each week a team of chefs are flown to some random city in the world where they have to perform some type of scavenger hunt. The winning team gets a secret ingredient to be used the next day when the chefs have to take over a local restaurant and cook for the locals (who will judge them on how badly they screwed up their favorite tangine or tapas). The losing team has to vote one of their members off the island the team.

So how is this a cooking show with chefs? Well, the scavenger hunt part seems to involve eating and drinking a lot. And then the teams have to butcher cook the local cuisine. But, as most of the completely clueless chefs chosen for this show said last night...this isn't about cooking. It's about winning. It's a mix of The Amazing Race and Survivor with a dash of something else (Top Chef? Three Stooges?) thrown in.

Last evening, we were introduced to the show's hosts -- Aussie heartthrob Curtis Stone and Iron Chef Cat Cora. Both are adorable and competent, but we know the hosts don't really do anything. We also met the contestants, most of them mindless or arrogant. Nookie, a chef with the Boston Red Sox, says he knows he's probably not the best chef, but he thinks he can win. Sai Pituk from Texas like to pose semi-nude in the tub, and Cheven (Chef Kevin)'s goal is to manipulate the other players so he can win.

The first challenge is a pub crawl, where we watch the chefs down yards of ale and pounds of black pudding hash. Most of them have never had black pudding before, which is semi-shocking to hear chefs admit that. As they run through the streets of London announcing themselves as "drunk Americans", we wonder what the casting directors were thinking. We're not sure what competitive eating has to do with a cooking show...until we're told that the chefs are to cook what they just consumed in mass quantities.

By the time the chefs actually make it to the kitchen, we've lost interest. Especially when they're clearly having issues. Sai, the naked chef, says that she only cooks Asian cuisine so she opts to work the front of the house (which is confusing since London restaurants are filled with Asian flavors and influences). Another chef, Chazz, is cracking everyone up by saying typical "British" phrases like "god save the Queen", "quiddich", and "crikey". It's a little painful.

When it's time to vote someone off the show, Nookie throws his teammate Clara under the bus, even though his steak and kidney pie was the least favorite dish by vote. But, as we heard many times during the course of the hour -- this is a cooking show that's not about cooking...at all.

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12 comments
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AngryPerson
AngryPerson

Ugh! The recaps are ten times more interesting than the actual show. Totally looking forward to it. I was very disappointed.Plus, the Exceptional Ingredient is such a lame term. I mean, really? My little cousin is less lame... Damn, Bravo.

Britbratad
Britbratad

Americans abroad!!!!! Big Ben at the Tower of London??? They may chefs but have the table manners of pigs. Wonder why Brits hate American tourists.

MARTHA
MARTHA

Around the World in 80 Plates..........is disgusting.  Gobble Gobble that was all they did.  I don't like shows where there is LYING!  The black team didn't even completethe first challange.  There was a full glass of the drink on the table when they left.  That alone should be cause for losing that round.  I will not watch any more episodes.They have to elimate themselves???? Give me a break.  How truthfull would they be.

MARTHA
MARTHA

Around the World in 80 Plates..........is disgusting.  Gobble Gobble that was all they did.  I don't like shows where there is LYING!  The black team didn't even completethe first challange.  There was a full glass of the drink on the table when they left.  That alone should be cause for losing that round.  I will not watch any more episodes.They have to elimate themselves???? Give me a break.  How truthfull would they be.

Yak
Yak

 Wow Schwettin, that story broke my heart. Do you know another?

Schwettin
Schwettin

Dumb article about a dumb show. Why bother?

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 It's a review...Well touted show by a major cable network owned by NBC.  They do a good job with Top Chef - it might have had promise.  Alas, not so much.

Schwettin
Schwettin

So what? Networks tout lots of shows. This one is as dumb as any other show that a network may tout and it has nothing to do with the local community. The article impresses me as a lazy selection. If you had been impressed by a particular show and cared to share that, hey, maybe that might make your article interesting. But writing an article to describe a corporate production that is, oh, big surprise here, dumb (as are most on that network) ... why bother? It degrades Short Order.

Schwettin
Schwettin

There's the old story about the kid who never said a word until his fifth birthday, on which his Mom served him soup for lunch. The kid looked up and said to his Mom, "Mom, this soup is too salty." His Mom was beside herself in tears, crying, "You can talk, you can talk. Why haven't you said anything until now?" To which he responded, "Up 'til now, everything has been okay."

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

 Disagree.  Some people were looking forward to this show. I, for one, was.  And by your comment history, it looks like you like to write a lot of negative commentary.  Which is totally cool, by the way.  Just seems like this is not the only thing you haven't loved recently.

Yak
Yak

I fell asleep watching it. It was that good.

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

You're lucky.  I had to finish this 'til the end. 

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