Bravo Networks has created a new cooking reality show, Around the World in 80 Plates, which premiers this Wed., May 9, at 9pm CST. The show—a mash-up of Top Chef and Amazing Race—takes 12 chefs around the world to compete in challenges that culminate in elimination rounds where the chefs must cook in local restaurants for the denizens of each international city.
St. Louisans will be especially tuned in because one of our own, Local Harvest Café’s Clara Moore, is a competitor on the show. The Morganford-area chef took some time off from admiring her passport stamps to talk to us about the show, her experience and how there really is no place like home.
FEAST: What made you want try out for Around the World in 80 Plates?
Clara Moore: It was suggested to me, and my initial thought was, “that’s crazy,” but then I realized I should go for it. There’s nothing I love more than cooking and traveling—it’s what I’ve built my life and career around. Looking at the show, I realized that it was pretty much made for me.
F: Walk us through how you become a contestant on a Bravo TV show.
M: You make a video, which was a lot of fun. You give them pictures of your food, write some sample menus; basically, you show off your culinary talent. I tried to show off my personality as much as I could. Then, if they like you, it’s a back and forth. I went out to L.A. to do some final round stuff—they pare it down, and then pare it down again. I didn’t even know until the last minute that I was chosen. They called and were like, “next week!”
F: So, you packed your bags and went around the world. What was it like on the show once you got there?
M: It was hilariously, terrifyingly hard. The thing about chefs is that we’re loud and we want to be in charge. It’s amplified when you have all these chefs trying to do the best that they can do. We’re all bosses, so it was difficult for us to meld.
F: Did your experiences here in St. Louis help you in any way?
M: Definitely. I’m a very American cook, and [at Local Harvest Café] I try to integrate as much soul as I can into my food. Local cuisine has a formula—you have to think of the climate and what grows there, the social mores and what the society, as a whole, is like. The first episode was in London, which I’d been to before, but I got to see a lot of parts of the city that I’d never seen. [The producers] did a really good job of introducing us to the culture, which in turn, helped me make quality food as gorgeous and nutritious as I could.
F: In your travels for the show, what did you realize about your hometown, and what did you miss most?
M: Going away always breeds appreciation for home. I think the food here is amazing, and whether it’s cooks like myself or new cooks coming from other countries and setting up in places like Olive and Cherokee, there’s a good range in food here, and it’s growing every day. What I missed most while on the show was my own kitchen. I missed my staff, my farmers and my local community. It gave me an appreciation for what I built here.