Denver chef Jenna Johansen dishes on her debut on Bravo's Around the World in 80 Plates
What was the highlight of your journey?
Being able to travel the word on someone else's dime was an experience of a lifetime, and the game itself was so interesting, because it's such an unusual thing to have people plan all of these unfamiliar challenges that you have to work your way through -- or around -- to complete. I've never had the opportunity to live a game, and you never know what kind of game you'll be playing that day -- I loved that. And I got to speak other languages, make the best food of my life and work with a team, which I'm good at doing. Still, as soon as the challenges were over, I'd lay in bed and think about all the things I could have done better -- the things I could have done differently.
Being away from home was really difficult. I had just moved in with Mark two days before I left for London, so that was tough, and communication was really difficult.
There's a video clip of you floating around, where you say you don't deserve the boot. We'll clearly have to wait and see what happens after London, but the chef who said that to you -- what's your relationship like with her now?
That's Avery Pursell. She's a great strategist, very competitive and a great chef. But at that point, I wasn't ready to go home, and I was ready to fight tooth and nail. But you want to play the game right, because at the end of every challenge, you might have to be on the same team as the person who wanted to vote you off. Once I got to London, the prize money wasn't as big of an incentive to me as just getting to the next country. And once I got to London, I knew that I didn't want to go home.
Did you form any lasting friendships?
There are definitely some people that I'll be friends with forever and people that I'm looking forward to cooking with again. And there are others who I really hope I never have to cook with again.
Why do you think you should win?
I have a lot of culinary cred, I speak a lot of foreign languages, and I worked really hard to have this opportunity. I'm thankful and grateful...and I can cook my way out of my kitchen.
I know you can't tell me if you won, but...
I'll say this: I'm proud that I was chosen, and I'm absolutely proud of how well I did. You never know how you're going to do until you're in the thick of it.
This Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, Johansen will be the guest chef at three pop-up dinners at Studio F, 1801 Wynkoop St., all of which start at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception; the dinners begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person, and reservations can be made by calling 303-226-9460 or visiting studioflodo.com.