Around the World in 80 Plates
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that just like many other reality-competition shows, such as Project Runway and Top Chef, Around the World in 80 Plates dwells heavily on stressed-out professionals and their interpersonal drama. The chefs argue and disparage each other in solo behind-the-scenes interviews. Many contestants say things like "You have to do whatever you can to win" and avow they will use trickery and deception. Expect plenty of language, the strongest bleeped. And some binge drinking during competitions. Despite all the ugliness, the focus on exploring the local foods of various exotic countries is interesting, and could be palate-expanding.
What's the story?
Combining elements of many other shows such as Project Runway, Top Chef, The Amazing Race, and Survivor, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 PLATES pits American chefs against each other in foreign cities. Contestants travel to a new city each week. There, under the direction of hosts Curtis Stone (Take Home Chef) and Cat Cora (Iron Chef America), they undergo a one-day jog around the city, eating local dishes as quickly as they can. The first of the two teams to make it to the finish line is given an "exceptional ingredient," a unique food that the other team is forbidden to use. The next day, both teams take over a restaurant to cook and serve a traditional local meal to patrons who are used to eating that food, i.e. British pub food to a group of native English-folk. Diners rate the meals, and the losing team must vote off one of its members. The last chef standing wins $150,000.
Is it any good?
Beautiful travel show-worthy footage of foreign cities and their natives eating adds glamor to a show that would otherwise be hard to distinguish from the other cooking competitions on the air. When Around the World in 80 Plates focuses on the food culture in the cities it visits, it scores. Watching a Brit explain why a good chip shouldn't be thin and crispy, or why steak-and-kidney pie is all about the sauce, is fascinating stuff that makes the viewer excited to see where the show will go next.
Less exciting: The focus on contestant drama above all else. Contestants are clearly coached to rank each other out in their solo behind-the-scenes interviews, and any and all conflict is ramped up with editing and dramatic music. It's trite, it's been done, and it takes focus away from the far more interesting part of the show, which is learning about a different way of eating and watching someone from your own part of the world try to mimic that style. Around the World in 80 Plates should stick to what's on the plate.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why the producers put the contestants under such pressure. What kinds of ways do people act when they are under pressure or at a disadvantage, and why might that make for interesting television?
Why is the "stranger in a strange land" type of scenario frequently used in movies or on television shows? Do the makers of 80 Plates want its contestants to feel the tension of being out of place? Why?
Chefs sometimes act squeamish when asked to taste a food with which they're not familiar. Do you ever do this? What does it make you think about a chef when they make an "eww" face?