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The Telefile
<I>Around the World in 80 Plates</I>: Ingredients Don’t Make the Meal

In theory, this should be my favorite competitive reality show on television. It's a cooking show, and I'm a firm devotee to the Food Network and Top Chef. It's got travel and adventure, which is why I watch The Amazing Race religiously. It's got Cat Cora, with whom I am more than a little obsessed (I've been known to turn the channel on Iron Chef if she isn't competing). It's got Curtis Stone, who is charmingly adorable on The Biggest Loser. And a host of contestants with big personalities. But while it sounds great on paper, it really just doesn't gel, at least not judging by the premiere.

A big problem is that there is just too much going on, especially in this set-up episode. Too much time is required to get to know the contestants, split them into groups and set up the premise of the show, so the entire thing feels rushed. And it seemed like so much of the pilot was about eating instead of cooking, so I felt a little cheated. Not that I really mind watching people eat -- I'll watch the hell out of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain noshing on foods from around the world all day -- but thought I was going to be watching an inventive cooking show, not one where you just had to replicate recipes with a mild twist.

The other issue that I had with the premiere is that there's not enough of the hosts/judges. I've seen Cat Cora's face plastered all over the place, and then she's barely in the episode. There seemed to be more Curtis and less of her -- maybe that's just how this UK episode played out, or it might have been the editing. Either way, I would like more of her, as she's one of the reasons that I personally tuned in to this show to begin with.

But while Around the World in 80 Plates wasn't as instantly engaging as I had hoped, there is some potential here, and I'll keep watching. Mostly for that Gary dude who made me laugh. And because I know I'm going to love to hate Cheven. And for Cat, who I hope I get to see more of in coming weeks.

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