Around the World in 80 Plates (VOD Hidden Gem)May 25, 2012
Media savant T Tara Turk goes deep inside cable TV to reveal Video On Demand's Hidden Gems so even the busiest of our readers can get the most out of On Demand TV. Tell Tara what VOD shows you think deserves her attention.
Around the World in 80 Plates (VOD Hidden Gem)
Warning: do not watch this show on an empty stomach
Bravo TV’s “Around The World in 80 Plates” is just what you expect a Bravo food show to be: highly stylized (more on that later), filled with slowly escalating drama amongst the contestants, big personalities, little personalities, food and fun.
With hosts Curtis Stone (Aussie celeb chef who started out on the TLC channel’s “Take Home Chef”) and Cat Cora (the only female Iron Chef who’s slowly creating her own culinary brand - and bares a striking resemblance to my favorite fictional gastro character on “Treme” - Janette Desautel) we see Bravo trying to keep up the cool host factor though few could compare to my favorite Tom Colicchio! Perhaps this show is a bit tougher than Top Chef as Cora and Stone are noted chefs and Padma Lakshmi is lesser known in that aspect.
The beginning goes like this (you’ve been here before if you watch Top Chef): chefs are picked, flown to a city, meet each other, presented with a challenge, compete, like/dislike each other under the stress of the competition and one team loses though this time the losing team (like Gordon Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen”) votes one chef from their team off the show. That last bit creates a more catty atmosphere than we’re used to with Bravo’s food shows. In many ways, including the catty bits, this show feels like a precursor to the more civilized “Top Chef” franchise.
But this show has a slight advantage over “Top Chef” in that the chefs are traveling to a different city each episode, asked to spend a short amount of time in local restaurants, then asked to recreate local favorites with their own twists.
This first episode was tricky as it was in London
and pub culture is a bit of a religion there
- especially when you introduce, gasp,
Nigella Lawson as a judge!
The original queen of television gastro indulgence (sorry Paula Deen), Nigella’s stardom and frankness when judging takes this show up a notch. I know we probably won’t see here again but putting her in episode one, sets the judging bar really high.
Another advantage is that the food, set in the country of origin, looks great. I have a bias though for the Top Chef finale which is usually international for that very reason - sometimes stepping outside of the usual kitchen, using local ingredients in a competition reduces the need for personality drama and, somehow, makes me REALLY want to try that final dish.
As for the contestants, they are okay. You have your usual boasters, chefmaniacs and large personalities but you also have a few quiet ones that just might surprise the rest. I know you’ve heard that before in other shows but listen, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Food has to be dramatic on television.
T. Tara Turk is a novelist/playwright/screenwriter, living in LA with her boyfriend and dog - all three successful TV addicts. You can find her at www.ttaraturk.com or follow her on Twitter @ttaraturk.