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Around the World in 80 Plates is set to premiere on May 9th and it looks like the show is going to bring a fun new twist on the cooking competitions of the past. The show’s hosts, Curtis Stone and Cat Cora , chatted with Reality Tea and a few other sites, giving us an inside peek at the upcoming craziness!

The show looks like Amazing Race and Top Chef rolled in some Housewives-style drama! Curtis and Cat confirm that the claws come out.

Curtis Stone: “It was pretty much a love/hate relationship right there.”

Cat Cora: “Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, we definitely witnessed it. I think from the very beginning when it was down to the first elimination. These chefs wanted to be in a competition. They were chosen. They wanted to move on. And they absolutely were going to fight for that role and that position. And I think they, from day one – obviously it gets a little more tense as it goes along and – or a lot more tense I should say. So yeah, we definitely witnessed some strategy and definitely some people fighting for it.”

Curtis Stone: “Which is interestingly representative of how the culinary world actually works. Because in a lot of ways for these guys it was like doing a (stagiaire) which is, you know, the French term given to a short period of time that you work in somebody else’s kitchen to gain a little bit of experience and knowledge. And they got to do this in a bunch of different countries around the world. What you’re really doing when you’re in a kitchen is of course you’re working as a team and you’re supporting that team as much as you possibly can. But the reality is you really are competing for the next position. If you’re a line cook as we call it in America, and you want to climb that ladder or that brigade that, you know, is so hierarchical in a kitchen then you have to outperform them. So you do have to compete and there are little games played in everyday kitchen life. So I think that it’s really a fascinating take on that.”


CLICK THE CONTINUE READING BUTTON FOR MORE OF THE INTERVIEW AND TO SEE THE FULL CAST BIOS AND PHOTOS!

Q: Since all of the chefs come with different degrees of experience, What was the biggest challenge for them in adapting to various cultures?

Cat Cora: “Well I mean I definitely think because they did come with so many varied ranges of skill, I think really trying to figure out who was going to lead, who was going to be able to, what the strategy was going to be and multitasking. But also there were language barriers in a lot of countries. There were a few that could speak multiple languages and there were many that couldn’t. So I mean those were definitely some of the roadblocks that they ran into.

Some of the street smart chefs had some of the skills to get through the cities a little quicker. you could tell the difference between some of the chefs who were trained kind of in the school of hard knocks and had more street smarts when it came to some of the tasks. Like I was saying, getting through the cities versus some of the more formally trained chefs. And I think really it came down to strategy really. We had a guy (Nookie)- he’s a chef for the Red Sox. This guy is from the streets and he definitely was able to maneuver a lot. We had several contestants like that. So that was really interesting to see and watch throughout the show.”


AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 PLATES CAST/CONTESTANT LIST AND CHEF BIOS:

AVERY PURSELL
TWITTER HANDLE: @AllDicedUp
AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA currently resides in Sherman Oaks, CA
PROFESSION: Executive Chef/Owner, All Diced Up Catering, Sherman Oaks, CA
CULINARY EDUCATION: Los Angeles Culinary Institute
Avery Pursell is the Executive Chef and Owner of All Diced Up, a boutique catering company in Los Angeles. Pursell was formally trained at the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and has had the opportunity to cook with several culinary masterminds including Gordon Ramsay and Marcel Vigneron, who helped expose her to different techniques and cuisines that she uses every day. Her passion for food stems from a long-standing family tradition of food enthusiasts and she continues to gain inspiration and knowledge by traveling, working closely with other talented chefs and creating fine-tuned dishes for each event she works. Avery is always looking for her next big move, next country to visit or cookbook to devour.

CHAZ BROWN
TWITTER HANDLE: @dacheezyjuan
AGE: 29
HOMETOWN: Voorhees, NJ
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine at Fatty Crab in New York City
CULINARY EDUCATION: French Culinary Institute
Chaz Brown is a passionate chef devoted to his culinary craft and strives to always be creative and inventive in the kitchen. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, where Brown was credited as the Mid-Atlantic Chef of The Year in 2009, he went on to compete on Top Chef Season 9. Chaz is the Chef de Cuisine at Fatty Crab in New York City and hopes to one day open a restaurant dedicated to heat and smoke and broadening customer’s palates.

CLARA MOORE
TWITTER HANDLE: @claramoore314
AGE: 30
HOMETOWN: St Louis, MO
PROFESSION: Chef and General Manager at Local Harvest Cafe and Catering, also teaches and writes about food
CULINARY EDUCATION: Cooking and Baking at Baltimore International College
Clara Moore has realized one of her most sought after dreams at her current job with Local Harvest in St Louis – supporting local farmers, serving seasonal foods and creating a sustainable food community. Born and raised in the industry, Clara has worked at a wide variety of restaurants since the age of 15 – from a 24 hour diner to haute cuisine – and enjoys her 30 seat casual cafe the most. She finds food to be the single most important political, domestic and public issue and loves the opportunity to meld her passion with her values. Clara finds traditional cuisines the most interesting and hopes to continue traveling the world and eating street food everywhere she lands.

GARY WALKER
TWITTER HANDLE: @chefgary
AGE: 40
HOMETOWN: Detroit, MI, resides in Chicago, IL
PROFESSION: Private Chef
CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Diploma 03 Institute of Culinary Education, New York, NY

Detroit native, Gary Walker credits his mother for sparking the culinary passion that has led him to become a wildly successful Private Chef and owner of his own company, Cheflove in Chicago. Gary grew up spending endless hours in the kitchen, keenly observing his mother’s elaborate meals and eventually taking on the responsibility of feeding the family at the age of 12 when she returned to the work-force. After graduating Wayne State University in Detroit, Gary embarked on a journey to New York City to chase his dreams and enroll in The Institute of Culinary Education. After working in some of the city’s best food establishments and learning the ins and outs of the industry, Gary headed to Chicago to open Cheflove, where he has the opportunity to travel the globe preparing multicultural meals for his clients that are deeply rooted in home-style, using fresh, local and organic ingredients.

JENNA JOHANSEN
TWITTER HANDLE: @jennajohansen
AGE: 36
HOMETOWN: Boulder, Colorado currently reside in Denver, CO
PROFESSION: Chef/Restaurateur, Cooking Class Instructor and Blogger: thelastthingweate.com
CULINARY EDUCATION: B. S. Restaurant and Resort Management from Colorado State University; A. O. S. Culinary Arts from Johnson & WalesColorado native Chef Jenna Johansen began her culinary career in a bakery at the age of 14. Since that first job, Jenna has learned every element of restaurant operations, from high volume corporate chef positions and waiting tables to working abroad and becoming the executive chef of several popular restaurants, including one that she co-owns. She gravitates towards independent restaurants with multiple opportunities for creativity and learning. Jenna’s cuisine is global, simple, seasonal and surprising. Her ability to successfully cook multiple cuisines and knack for creatively marrying flavors has diners falling in love with her delicious and unique dishes.

JOHN VERMIGILO
TWITTER HANDLE: @johnvermig
AGE: 27
HOMETOWN: Clinton Township, Michigan currently resides in Chicago, IL
PROFESSION: Executive Sous Chef, Table Fifty-two
CULINARY EDUCATION: Education: B.S. Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales University
John Vermiglio is a Midwesterner currently serving up Southern hospitality in Chicago. Born in Detroit, MI, John began his gastronomic career at the age of fourteen washing dishes in a bagel shop. Vermigilo’s passion and drive for all things food originates from an innate commitment to serving people and eating. John is committed to his philosophy that there is really nothing that cannot be pickled. Vermigilo’s dishes are locally focused and seasoned with the finest detail. John is looking forward to bringing his talents back to Detroit one day in a restaurant of his own.

KEVEN LEE
TWITTER HANDLE: @chefkevenlee
AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Chatsworth, California
PROFESSION: Executive Chef and CEO of My World on a Plate Catering and Events.
CULINARY EDUCATION: C.I.A. (Culinary Institute of America) located in Hyde Park New York and Dominican Carlton Tivoli located in Luzern, Switzerland.
Keven A. Lee is an internationally-trained chef with degrees from some of the top culinary schools in the world including: New York’s Culinary Institute of America and Dominican Carlton Tivoli located in Luzern, Switzerland. Lee expresses his culinary creativity by utilizing ingredients from all over the globe and describes his cuisine as an eclectic version of Classical French Mediterranean with strong Asian and Pacific Rim influences. Keven currently resides in California where he serves as Executive Chef and CEO of his own private events company, My World On A Plate.

LIZ GARRETT
TWITTER HANDLE: @lizontheline
AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, Hotel Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA
CULINARY EDUCATION: Self-trained
Liz Garrett is currently the Chef de Cuisine of two properties at the Hotel Wilshire in Los Angeles, CA. After years in the fashion and retail industry, Liz decided to follow her dream and become a professional chef. One week into her externship at one of LA’s most popular restaurants, The Foundry on Melrose, chef and owner, Eric Greenspan offered her a position on the line working garde mangier. Over the next two years, Liz relentlessly worked her way up and trained at every station, until she was promoted to Sous Chef. Now, in addition to running her own kitchen, she is also working on helping her mentor, Greenspan, to open Etage, a fine-dining restaurant located at the Hotel Wilshire. Liz is the most happy in the kitchen but also loves spending free time sleeping, entertaining friends and singing karaoke.

NICK LACASSE

TWITTER HANDLE: @ChefevilNick
AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Burlington, Vermont currently resides in Chicago, IL
PROFESSION: Executive Chef of The Drawing Room, Chicago
CULINARY EDUCATION: Graduated from: New England Culinary Institute, 2002
Nick Lacasse has worked his way up the kitchen ladder in Vermont, Seattle, Portland Maine and Chicago for nearly 20 years. His food obsession began while working at Etta’s in Seattle at the age of nineteen. Tom Douglas was a great influence, learning regionality, seasonality and discipline in the kitchen. The following year, Lacasse was awarded a scholarship to New England Culinary Institute and since graduating in 2002, has worked under four James Beard award winning chefs. In 2007 Nick, as Executive Chef, opened The Drawing Room in Chicago’s Gold Coast to great acclaim. Lacasse’s food style is very personal, a mix of progressive techniques, seasonality, with often an homage to the foods of his unfussy New England upbringing. A six month hiatus from the kitchen in 2005-06 introduced Nick to his second true love, travel. A new respect for the ceremony of cooking and eating with fellow travelers was born in ramshackle rooming houses. Nick currently resides in Chicago.

NICOLE LOU
TWITTER HANDLE: @Lou_Nicole
AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: San Jose, CA, currently resides in San Francisco, CA
PROFESSION: Chef at Bushi-Tei in San Francisco
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S. from California Culinary Academy
Nicole Lou’s Vietnamese heritage and upbringing has always centered on food — enjoying elaborate claypot cuisine, assembling egg rolls alongside her cousins and preparing duck that had been freshly slaughtered in the backyard. After years in a corporate cubicle, Lou enrolled in the California Culinary Academy where she began pursuing her interests of simple, global cuisine focusing on pork, offal and various styles of charcuterie. As a student, Lou apprenticed at the world-famous Nobu in New York City and later returned to the Bay Area where she worked her way up to Sous Chef for Robbie Lewis at Bacar. Her love of the pig brought her to Perbacco, where she helped Stefan Terje win the 2010 Cochon 555. Lou has extensive experience in Mediterranean, Japanese and Chinese cuisine, but would like to now focus on her Vietnamese roots. Nicole has plans to take time off and travel through Southeast Asia to learn more cooking techniques and eating rituals.

SAI PITUK
TWITTER HANDLE: @Chef_Sai
AGE: 31
HOMETOWN: El Paso, TX
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner of Tara Thai in El Paso
CULINARY EDUCATION: Self-trained
Sai Pituk is the chef and owner of Tara Thai, an upscale and classic Thai restaurant nestled in the heart of El Paso’s trendy Cincinnati District, which specializes in fresh, authentic recipes utilizing her secret mother sauces of Asia. Her non-traditional tutelage under street cooks, restaurant owners and friends and family in Thailand have infused her cooking with a soul that is uniquely hers and authentic to the spirit of Southeast Asia. Tara Thai was named Best Restaurant of the Year by El Paso Style Magazine in 2009 and Sai was named “New Chef of the Year” in 2010 by the El Paso Times. Sai is also a veteran of the United States army.

STEVE POSTAL (AKA “NOOKIE”)
TWITTER HANDLE: @chefnookie
AGE: 36
HOMETOWN: Cambridge, Mass
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Fenway Park
CULINARY EDUCATION: Cambridge School of Culinary Arts
Steve (aka Nookie) is currently working as the Executive Chef for the Boston Red Sox. Nookie has worked in several different restaurants over the years but his career really took off when he opened Oleana with his mentor, Ana Sortun in 2001 with Nookie serving as sous chef. Nookie has worked at some of the best restaurants in the Boston/Cambridge area including Icarus, Chez Henri and Casablanca. Nookie is an extensive traveler having lived in Umbria for 6 months and Barcelona for a year. Nookie prides himself on cooking sustainable food with a strong focus on seasonality. If he were a food, he would be a cucumber because they are extremely versatile.


[Photo credit: Bravo TV]

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