Jenna Johansen talks frankly about her boot from Around the World in 80 Plates
Which was the toughest challenge? Last night's Thailand episode. I had sprained both of my ankles early on, and by the time we got to Thailand, they'd gotten really bad. The challenges in this episode were really physical, and by the end of the first day, I was defeated mentally and physically. I was spending every single night on this trip with bags of ice on my ankles, just so I could run the next day. We ran miles and miles in every episode, but Thailand was the worst, and it was so incredibly hot there.
Of all the challenges you faced, which was your favorite? I loved the olive-picking challenge in Florence, and since I'd been there before, I knew my way around, I knew the streets and I knew the language. And it was the only challenge where we had the whole night to cook, rather than just a few hours.
What's your fondest memory of your experience? I loved the markets in Barcelona. There's a stand just for eggs -- everything from quail to ostrich, all in different sizes and colors -- and different stands for salumi, for olives, for olive oil, for everything. I could spend days there just shopping for food and talking to people.
Fellow chef and contestant John Vermiglio called you a "ball and chain" in the Bologna episode. It sounded personal. What did he mean by that? He was referring to the fact that I was having trouble running and was the weak link, because I couldn't run. It seemed hateful when he said it, but I don't think it was a malicious comment. It was portrayed as a personal insult, but he didn't mean it that way.
There was palpable animosity between you and Avery Pursell, but when you were eliminated, you hugged her -- and everyone else, including John, who was the deciding vote in casting you off. Any hard feelings for those who kept you from moving on to the next city? No hard feelings. This is a game. Someone has to get voted off in order for someone else to win. And at least they were honest about why I got voted off: I was a threat, and ultimately, they want to keep the people around who they can beat.
Did you feel like you were going to win it all? Absolutely. I really, really thought I was going to win, but at the same time, I didn't think that some of the challenges would be as difficult as they were. But I was definitely shocked that I was sent home, because we absolutely made the best dish in Thailand. I'm definitely just as good, if not better, as the chefs who are left. No doubt about it. I may not be the best strategist, but I can cook, and I cooked some amazing food, and I was voted off because of it. I had the skills and the technique to go all the way.
You chose to vote for Liz Garrett during last night's elimination process. Why did you think it was her time to go? I would hire Liz to work at my restaurant, but I wouldn't hire to run my restaurant. Her skill set and techniques aren't as strong as the rest of the chefs who are still there.
Based on your observations of the contestant's performances, who should be the next to go? If I had a choice, I'd send Liz home again.