Chefs Cat Cora and Curtis Stone pack their appetites — and passports — as hosts of Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates.Phileas Fogg had it easy compared with the 12 chefs competing on Bravo’s new show Around the World in 80 Plates. The mashup of The Amazing Race and Top Chef takes the heated battle out of the kitchen and on the road, spanning a head-spinning 10 countries and 60,000 miles in 44 days. Contestants must not only master the cuisine and woo diners in each locale they visit, but they must also overcome such obstacles as obstinate sheep, testy street vendors and each other’s egos. Hosts Cat Cora (Iron Chef America) and Curtis Stone (Take Home Chef) dish with American Way about the show’s culinary grand tour.
American Way: How did you two enjoy working together?
Cat Cora: We get along great. We’re not divas; we’re both just down-to-earth people. It was a lot of fun.
Curtis Stone: Of course we share a crazy interest in food. The second we weren’t eating the contestants’ food, we would both steal off to try the local specialties. It was a marathon of food. We just ate and ate and ate.
AW: What was your favorite meal?
CC: In Bologna, that truffle salad …
CS: (Simultaneously) Remember that truffle salad? We went to this tiny trattoria. We had this salad with white truffles, thin slices of celery, wild mushrooms and a poached egg. It was so good.
AW: What was the most difficult part of this competition?
CC: Changing locations so quickly. Going from Italy to Asia, London right to Morocco is pretty tough. The contestants had less than 24 hours to be immersed in those cultures. If they’d never been to those places or worked with those ingredients before, it was a difficult time for them.
AW: Can you share a particular moment in the competition when you thought, “Now that’s good television”?
CS: In Chiang Mai, Thailand, the contestants took over a street stall. Think of what a local market looks like; those vendors don’t let anyone get in their way! Also, in Barcelona, the chefs were told they’d be cooking for [top chef] José Andrés. Watching their jaws drop was one of those special moments.
AW: Which challenge made you think, “I am so glad I am not a contestant”?
CC: Herding sheep in France was a pretty intense challenge. I just imagined what it’s like rounding up my four boys and said, “Yep, I am so glad I didn’t have to do that!”