Wednesday night Bravo dishes out its newest, and what is claimed to be most expensive original programming venture yet — Around the World in 80 Plates — an ambitious show that pits 12 chefs from across the US against one another in a global setting. I know what you’re thinking: another Top Chef. So was I. But it turns out that 80 Plates is different. In fact, after previewing the first episode, I’m going to be so bold as to say it’s better, and perhaps a legitimate successor to the stale and repetitive Top Chef. Think Amazing Race meets the “restaurant wars” episode of Top Chef, which I know we can all agree is the most exciting and entertaining challenge that Top Chef has to offer these days.
80 Plates is hosted by Cat Cora and Curtis Stone, who, as we also know, I’ve been crushing on for some time. Throughout the course of the season we’re going to be treated to “food ambassadors” such as Jose Andres, Nigella Lawson and Wolfgang Puck. These ambassadors won’t play judge but will act as mere representatives of the cultures to which the competing chefs are exposed.
Continue reading for what to expect in episode one — no spoilers, I promise.
In the first episode the chefs are in London, an unusual choice given England’s culinary reputation. Perhaps it was an easing in to the more difficult culinary cultures to come later in the season. With London you have the obligatory gastropub (god, I hate that word), which brings with it the obligatory high-end fish and chips. Here’s where it gets fun. The 12 cheftestants (are we allowed to call them that?) are divided into two teams. They choose who they want to team up with and they’re stuck with each other for the rest of the season —although I have yet to figure out how this will pan out should one team completely suck and they deplete their members quicker than the other.
Now that the teams are set they are given their task, or as they’re calling it, “The Course.” They have to venture around London looking for three gastropubs, where challenges await, such as eating a steak and kidney pie as fast as possible and chugging a yard (1.42 l) of ale. It’s enjoyable to watch these misfits make absurd decisions as they slowly get drunk. The fastest team to make it to the final destination wins the prize, an “Exceptional Ingredient” that only the winning team can use for their meal — which will be cooked in one of the restaurants they visited earlier in the day, The Drapers Arms and the Duke of Cambridge.
Locals are the judges. As in restaurant wars, they dine at both restaurants and determine their favorite. It’s as simple as that. Once the losing team learns their fate they face one final challenge: they are responsible for choosing which of their fellow teammates should be eliminated — if that’s not a mind fuck I don’t know what is.
I wont give away too much about the characters, but these chefs, suffice it to say, are your typical motley crew: there’s the obnoxious one, the manipulative one, the pushover… You get the idea. I think you’re gonna like.
Around the World in 80 Plates premieres tomorrow night on Bravo at 10p ET/PT
Let us know what you think in the comments.
(Photo: Bravo TV)