We’re down to the wire on Around the World in 80 Plates. It was an episode with fewer “chefs” and fewer exotic locales the viewers don’t get to see enough of, in my opinion. The contestants find themselves in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the next leg of their journey.
Before heading to Argentina, the chefs must break into two teams of two. Avery Pursell, as the most valuable chef, gets to pick her partner, and she chooses her always ally Nookie Postal. She knows just how strategic he can be. That means that John Vermiglio and Liz Garrett will be paired together. Nookie has an emotional phone call with his wife and kids before leaving Hong Kong.
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Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, all the players are tired after their thirty hour plane ride. Once they get to the airport, the teams are met with their first clue. They must make their way to the Rincon Norteno Empanada Shop. Nookie and Avery are the red team, while Liz and John are the black team. Avery is concerned that she put the two slowest runners on the same team. Nookie is just thrilled to be in South America. The black team arrives at the shop mere seconds before the red. They are challenged with selling eighty empanadas to the locals. John, being a calzone aficionado, feels like he’s got this in the bag. However, Nookie and Avery are used to cooking for the masses, so they aren’t concerned. The teams have the added stress of cooking in the same kitchen, so they quickly take to calling out each others’ cooking styles.
The teams are head to head until Liz burns a batch of empanadas. John worries that his partner is choking on this challenge. Avery and Nookie finish cooking first. They must find Parque Rivadavia and sell 150 pesos worth of empanadas. They are rolling their empanada cart as fast as the win, while the black team is 20+ empanadas behind. Nookie fancies himself a salesman, but he’s striking out with the locals. Liz devises a plan to sell their empanadas for less to beat the red team. Nookie is trying to sell his team’s empanadas with a side of kissing from Avery. No takers. Liz and John are quite the sales force until a local inform the red team that the other team is selling their wares for much less. Nookie brokers a deal to sell the rest of their food for what they need to make the correct amount to win the challenge. Avery is very lucky she chose Nookie.
The red team must now search for Puerto Madero to find Cat Cora and Curtis Stone. John sees the vendor that took the remainder of Avery and Nookie’s empanadas. The red team is trying to get to Cat and Curtis via the metro, while the black team cabs it. Regardless of their decision to use public transportation, Nookie and Avery are first to meet the judges, earning the exceptional ingredient. Curtis informs the chefs that the following day each team will be taking over a parrilla which is a specially designed grill usually constructed from bricks (don’t hate on me for reading every subtitle Bravo gives me…I had a Publix pizza for dinner. I love different and exotic foods, but I’d never be able to spell “parrilla”–much less define it–without a little help from the network).
The teams must create a family style meal consisting of two appetizers and two meat dishes, with each chef creating one menu item. One of the meat dishes must be prepared Asado style. Yea! I do know what that means…and how to spell it on my own! The red team’s exceptional ingredient is the ability to work with a local grill master. The teams head to restaurant La Tranqura to sample local fare. Nookie reminds Avery that Liz should be the next to go home. If there is anything I love more than meat, it’s shave meat. Street food. Yum. The remaining contestants discuss what they will prepare for the judges. Nookie is hoping to steer John in a horrible direction so that he takes the fall. Nookie won’t send him home, but he wants the red team to win.
Nookie and Avery are learning how to cook meat on an iron cross Asado style. They are soaking in everything they can possibly learn. Nookie believes the title of most valuable chef is between him and Avery. He thinks Liz is good but not experienced, and he’s banking on a dip in John’s self-confidence after Hong Kong. Nookie is trying to psych out Liz in the kitchen, but she’s being risky by creating a pork and corn empanada. Avery is concerned that Liz may be a dark horse who could be a thorn in the side of her alliance with John and Nookie. John totally sees through Nookie’s compliments, and Liz realizes she’s the odd man out with this group.
Liz is working the front of the restaurant. The judges are impressed with her greeting of the patrons. Right off the bat, one of the restaurant’s guests wants Liz’s empanada recipe. Curtis is in full agreement. John’s salad isn’t receiving such rave reviews. Meanwhile, Avery is having a difficult time smoking her goat Asado style. Nookie’s skirt steak is cited as being too tough. Avery is proud of her goat, but Nookie isn’t proud of how Liz is running the front of the restaurant. The judges are very impressed with Avery’s goat. They have never seen a woman conquer the Asado grill.
At the judges’ critique, John says he was willing to do a vegetarian option because everyone else would be cooking meat. The locals didn’t find it to be a very Argentinian cuisine. Curtis and Cora aren’t too keen on Nookie’s skirt steak. While Avery’s goat was amazing, she didn’t plate it in a way in which the locals were accustomed. Liz wins the title of most valuable chef for her empanadas, and her three aligned counterparts hang their heads. Nookie, John, and Avery are in shock while deliberating. Avery is quick to say that she shouldn’t be going home. John hopes to convince Avery to vote for Nookie, and she may be biting. John might be easier to beat moving forward.
John votes for Nookie, who in turn votes for John. Avery, the deciding factor, maintains her alliance with Nookie and casts her vote for John. He high-fives his way out of the kitchen.
Next week, it’s the finale in Uruguay! The final three are all over the place, and it’s every chef for his or herself. The winner is decided by a mere four votes!
SHOULD JOHN HAVE GONE HOME LAST NIGHT? WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN?
[Photo Credit: Bravo]