On Robert Irvine’s ‘The Globe,’ chefs make a surprise country’s cuisine on the fly
Host hopes the discovery+ series will “educate the viewer on a culture they may or may not know.”
Talk to Food Network chef Robert Irvine (“Restaurant: Impossible,” “Dinner: Impossible”) and he’ll tell you there’s a world of food out there waiting to be discovered.
And in his new Food Network series, “The Globe,” streaming on discovery+ beginning July 17, Irvine intends to bring that culinary universe to a screen near you.
The five-episode show is a culinary competition in which 16 professional chefs —four per round —compete across three rounds of cooking gameplay, traveling the globe virtually to prepare and present authentic dishes representing the cuisine of various regions of the world. But there’s one catch: The chefs have no idea where they’re going or what they’ll be cooking —until they “arrive” at a destination.
Along for the journey will be Irvine’s “resident judge” chef Daniela Soto-Innes, who will be joined by guest judges with ties to each culinary region represented in the competition. There are three rounds per episode (each round in a different virtual “location”), and the last chef standing in each round wins a trip to one of the three destinations featured in their episode. Winners from each of those heats go on to the finale to compete for a grand prize of $25,000.
Irvine, who admits he travels 345 days a year for his television work and, more importantly, his foundation’s work with military/first responder organizations and services agencies across the globe (he’s a veteran of the British Royal Navy), recently chatted with the Sun-Times about the new series. Here’s some of what he had to say.
Q. Can you explain how the show works in terms of the virtual locations?
A. For each episode, a huge 270-degree screen takes you to three different locations for a birds-eye view of a unique [corner of the world]. There are four chefs who have no idea where they’re going until they walk on stage. They have no idea what the ingredients are going to be and what I’m going to ask them to cook.
It’s very unique because the cities we cover are places like Beijing,Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Paris, Mumbai (India), Tel Aviv (Israel), Florence (Italy), Lima (Peru), Kyoto (Japan) and a few others. The idea of the show is to bring food and culture together and educate the viewer on a culture they may or may not know.
And another part of this show is you don’t know what equipment [the chefs] are going to use because in Addis Ababa it might be this. And in Beijing it might be that. ... We wheel in a pantry of authentic ingredients, most of which these really qualified chefs have never seen before. Then I will say, for this round you will use this piece of equipment and only this piece of equipment and only these ingredients.
Q. Are the judges the usual mix of professional chefs and celebrities?
A. What is so unique is that we’ve brought judges from whatever part of the world we’re traveling to. So it might be a professional chef, but there will also be judge from the area we are featuring. So the judge could be a housewife. But they’re all very well-versed in the area and the country where we are cooking. And I don’t do any of the judging. I get to taste the food and make comments, but I don’t decide who wins or not.
Q. What still excites or surprises you about cooking?
A. In our lives we are drawn to foods we grew up with and we stick in our lane. But I want to experience everything. This show is a way to educate the viewers on the culture and the food of all these different regions in the world. But it’s also an education for me. I never want to stop learning. People think chefs know everything when it comes to food. But we don’t; I’m not the know-it-all guy. Show me something I don’t know and I’m like a sponge.
Q. What’s the one kitchen gadget that you can’t do without?
A. A blender. [Laughs] I can do anything with a blender.
For more information about the Robert Irvine Foundation visit robertirvinefoundation.org.