Welcome back, gang, to the sixth episode of "Around (a Very Small Part of) the World in 80 Plates," where a grand circumnavigation of the globe has yet to cross more than two time zones.
You know, by the time Phileas Fogg hit the six-week mark of his journey, he was in Hong Kong. Jules Verne's most famous globe-trotter wasn't slowed by ribollita challenges, true, but he was traveling by steamer and elephant. We think we have a legitimate gripe here. Sigh.
Whatever. Our seven intrepid chefs are driving to Bologna in two teams, and they're the same ones as last week -- the Black Team with Nookie, Avery, Nick and Nicole, who has immunity, and the Red Team of Liz, Jenna and John, squabbling in their car.
They're headed for the Parmigiano Reggiano Creamery in Modena, where they must find three huge wheels of cheese with green triangles among the towering rows. At stake: $10K and the exceptional ingredient.
The Red Team takes the lead and races off to Bologna's historic old town, where they must deliver one of the heavy wheels to a salumeria. "This cheese weighs a ton, it's greasy as hell and Jenna is taking forever," John gripes as Jenna uses her excellent Italian language skills on people who either don't want to talk to her or don't know where the salumeria is.
Meanwhile, the Black Team immediately finds helpful, English-speaking locals who direct them straight to the salumeria
Nicole has been checking off the items as they purchase them, but somehow, she manages to check off a wedge of parm they do not have, so back they go -- leaving the Red Team to land triumphantly at the finish line, and win the $10,000 and the ...
The big prize is time -- a whole extra hour of it -- during the coming challenge, plus dinner at the Pappagallo in the company of its chef, Riccardo Facchini. Jenna & co. invite the Black Team to join them, citing ye olde "keep your friends close and your enemies blah blah" line.
At dinner, the talk turns to the coming challenge: They'll have to prepare an antipasti, primi and secondi, and the primi has to be that classic of Bolognese culinary culture, tortellini. John asks the opposing team what they're doing for their first course.
"We're doing a wasabi cake," Nookie deadpans.
But any bonhomie vanishes when Jenna asks the Italian chef, "Can you tell me in Italian the secret of this dish?" The chef cracks up, but eventually tells her, in Italian, that a true Bolognese sauce is made with pork -- and only pork.
The Elimination Challenge
Avery and Nookie decide to tackle the tortellini together, but the pasta dough soon proves a major problem. "Tortellini hell is breaking loose," Avery frets, while Nookie worries that her constant desire to pick the hardest dish may prove her undoing.
Meanwhile, Nicole is cutting the rib-eye in a direction that Nick does not approve of, and he's fretting over the fact that someone with immunity hasn't paused to discuss her dish with the rest of the team.
Fretting abounds and the Red Team members are hardly immune. Jenna barks orders, per usual, and decides she's "going to make sure Liz steps up to the plate." John gripes about Jenna. Liz appears on the verge of tears. Same old, same old.
It's zero hour for the Black Team, which serves up Nick's warm mushroom salad with arugula puree and crispy parmesan, Avery and Nookie's squash and prosciutto tortellini in chicken broth, and Nicole's rib-eye medallions with Brussels sprouts and cauliflower puree.
"I'm so relieved to have immunity," Nicole says, nervously.
The Red Team offers up Jenna's four-cheese plate with mushrooms and sweet-and-sour sauce, John's tortellini in capon and parmesan broth, and Liz's pork loin with romagnolo sauce and eggplant puree. Jenna gives Liz props for her dish, then tells John the pork was so salty, Jenna had to spit it out -- and she doesn't stop there. Let the official under-the-bus-tossing commence!
There are a lot of unhappy people as Curtis and Cat deliver feedback and ask how the chefs think it went. Whoosh, Nick tosses Nicole under the bus. Kapow! Jenna throws Liz under the bus, saying she knew Liz oversalted the pork and didn't stop her. Even Curtis is startled. He says, "That's like, in a strange way, sabotaging your team."
And then he adds, "Liz, the diners thought your dish encapsulated the flavors of Italy more than any other dish." Jenna looks like she's just eaten a mouthful of dirt.
In the end, the Red Team wins and John -- and his tortellini -- get the MVC award and immunity. And a deeply unhappy Black Team sends Nick home.
Next week: The remaining six chefs head for Chiang Mai, Thailand (finally!), where they tote coconuts and trip over themselves in rice paddies. See you then.