On "Around the World in 80 Plates," Bravo's cross between "The Amazing Race" and "Top Chef," cheftestants travel the world and complete culinary challenges based on the culture of the city they're in. Though the series is sending its competitors everywhere from England to Morocco, you don't have to leave your kitchen to add some of the global flair host Curtis Stone says you can bring to any dish. "That's the great thing about a show like this -- there's all sorts of inspiration to be taken from so many different sorts of people. The home cook will learn a lot by watching this."
Here, he breaks down some lessons learned from his time abroad.
Italy: Customs are important
"The culture in Tuscany was just so steeped in tradition, and some of our contestants tried to do stuff that was a little out there -- they were just like, 'That's not in season right now!' 'Basil in a ribollita? Why?'"
France: Explore your food
"[In our episode in France] they do a tasting of different cheeses and have to identify which ones are made with sheep's milk. I think that opens your eyes to be like, 'Oh, sheep's milk, cow's milk, goat's milk -- what's the difference?'"
Thailand: One base, many dishes
"In Chiang Mai, Thai food really comes alive, and they do so much in a mortar and pestle. They use things like galangal, which is very similar to ginger, and they also use ginger, lemongrass, lime leaves, palm sugar, lime rinds themselves, garlic, cilantro -- of course lots of fresh chilies -- and all that's pounded together to create this delicious paste. It's so adaptable. That's how the Thais cook, which is really inspirational."
Get involved in the show
Gilt Taste, Gilt Groupe's online food market, has also partnered with the show: Each week, you can visit its "Around the World in 80 Plates Marketplace" to purchase exotic ingredients like chorizo and green curry. You can also check out recipes tied to each episode.
Spice it up
Spices add exotic finesse to any meal. "If you're talking about a burger, you can do Thai burgers, Moroccan burgers -- you can do all these different things," Stone says. His top spices for rich flavors:
Fennel seeds and fennel a la grecque
Fresh herbs (not dried)