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Last night’s Around the World in 80 Plates treated us to Marrakech, Morocco, although we never really see much of the visited country.  I love the concept of this show, and I LOVE that involves Curtis Stone, but I’ve yet to find a chef for which I’m rooting.  While the chefs voting each other off seems like a good twist, it’s too much like Survivor and not enough like Top Chef, which I love.

As the contestants head to Africa, they share whether they’ve traveled there.  It’s most players first visit.  Not only is will the team that finishes first get the exceptional ingredient, the team will also win $15,000.  The chefs must divide themselves into three teams of three and head on their way in horse drawn carriages.  Black team Nookie Postal, Avery Purcell, and John Vermiglia are the first team.  Red team Jenna Johansen, Nicole Lou, and Liz Garrett are the second.  The final team, white, is Gary Walker, Chaz Brown, and Nick Lacasse.

The teams head to a world famous market where they must locate a spice shop.  Everyone is running around like chickens with their heads’ cut off–so discombobulated.  The black team is the first to arrive and gain the next clue.  They must find the nine most commonly used spices in the native cuisine.

The black team has seven out of nine when the red team shows up at the spice shop to start the challenge.  Nick on the white team is disappointed to arrive last given that Gary speaks French. Chaz uses his West Indian nose, and the white team is actually the first to finish.  Nookie is crowding the white team at the counter and Gary is getting heated.  The white team gets their clue and heads out to find directions to a roof top restaurant.

The women are in last place, as Nookie tries hard to find the way to the restaurant.  The black and white teams are neck and neck.  Once at the restaurant, the teams are schooled in how to traditionally serve Moroccan tea.  The first team to properly pour all their tea will win the money.  Gary is an expert pourer thanks to drinking games.  However, the black team wins the exceptional ingredient and $15,000.  That was super close.

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Curtis tells the chefs that they will be cooking in one of Merrakech’s top restaurants.  They must prepare a traditional Moroccan stew called tagine along with two dishes of their choosing.  The black teams exceptional ingredient?  They score a guide to show them around the city who speaks all the languages and is knowledgeable about local cuisine.  The teams head out into town, with the black team meeting Ahmed, their guide.

The women on the red team are uncomfortable as they continue to be hissed at for not being in traditional dress.  They are at a big disadvantage in my opinion.  The white team is just trying as many local dishes as possible in hopes of perfecting their menu.  At least the accommodations for the three teams is prime.

Jenna is thrilled to get to Skype with her fiance.  The white team discusses who to vote off in the event they don’t win the challenge.  I will say it makes it easier to know they don’t necessarily have to vote off their own teammate, although I smell a stalemate.  The guys from the white team feel most threatened by Avery, calling her a dark horse.  The following day, each team has thirty minutes to shop for their ingredients.  Having a local guide could definitely be a huge advantage. 

Gary’s French allows the white team to negotiate for live chickens.  We learn that Avery and her father were planning a trip around the world when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  She now carries some of his ashes in a vial around her neck so he can travel with her.  It’s equal parts super sweet and Angelina/Billy Bob weird.

Arriving at the restaurant, all of the chefs are in awe.  The kitchen is very stark which strikes fear in the hearts of Nookie and John, although John feels comfortable in his ability to pick up on foreign cuisines quickly.  Gary is worried that teammate Chaz’s anger issues will surface once again.  On the red team, Liz is surprised at how well she’s working with the usually patronizing Jenna.  Gary and his French are at the front of the restaurant for his team. 

Avery loses her beets, and no one will admit to beet stealing.  It appears that the waiters accidentally moved the beets.  Avery is on the defensive when the other contestants chastise her for accusations of beet stealing.  Really?  How many times am I going to have to type “beet stealing”?

Curtis and Cat Cora are dining with a renowned Moroccan chef and his wife.  The black team is seems to be struggling according to John who is at the front of the restaurant for his team.  Chaz may or may not be having a melt down in the kitchen.  Nookie and Avery talk strategy, and he’s always the first to navigate the final vote.  If he doesn’t win this, may I suggest he tries his hand with Jeff Probst?  The white team gets mixed reviews among the patrons and the judges.

Nick and Chaz chastise Gary about how he reacted to beet-gate, but they assure him that they still plan to vote off AveryLiz of the red team is nervous about her role as the front of the house.  The patrons want seconds from the red team. The judges go from table to table to garner the patrons’ opinions on the food served by each team.

At the judges’ table, the black teams beans are counted as under-cooked.  Avery’s dish is praised by the judges.  Chaz throws Avery under the bus for not thanking Gary when he found her lost beets.  Chaz is dumbfounded to find out that Curtis and the patrons weren’t a fan of his couscous.  Of course he is.  On the red team, Nicole’s dessert and palate cleanser is praised, as is Liz’s couscous.  The red team wins the challenge.  In the words of Curtis, “Girl power!”

Liz wins immunity for the next challenge.  The black and white teams must meet to discuss their voting strategy.  Chaz and his temper lead the conversation while trying to throw Avery under the bus. Nookie‘s goal is to pit the white team against each other.

It’s time to vote, and Chaz gets the first three votes.  Chaz votes for Avery, as do Nick and Gary.  Tie…that wasn’t hard to predict was it?  Curtis reveals to Liz that as the most valuable chef this go-round, she’s in charge of the tie-breaker.  That sucks!  She chooses Chaz as she doesn’t think he’s as good a team player as Avery, and the chefs must continue to work as teams in this competition.

Next week, the chefs head to Florence, Italy.  Jenna is grating on Nick’s last nerve, an the contestants’ lack of Italian is an issue.  There is major noodle chaos in the kitchen.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE?  IS THE SHOW GROWING ON YOU?  WHY DON’T THEY HAVE MORE SCENES WITH CURTIS? :)

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