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Q&A: John Vermiglio from 'Around the World in 80 Plates'

We talk to the last Chicago man standing on Bravo's travel/cooking reality show

  • John Vermiglio from "Around the World in 80 Plates"
John Vermiglio from "Around the World in 80 Plates" (Justin Stephens/Bravo )
July 13, 2012|By Lisa Arnett | For RedEye

John Vermiglio, the last Chicago man standing on "Around the World in 80 Plates," was voted off the show by his fellow chefs on Wednesday's episode. "I was super-pleased to outlast everyone else from Chicago," said Vermigio from New York, where he was in town for a cast finale party. "That was a definite goal of mine once I got there and met everyone, so yeah, I was able to do so and hopefully I've done the city proudly, but I'm not coming home with $150,000.”" We talked to Vermiglio on Friday morning about watching his elimination live, his favorite city to film in and how is new gig at Graham Elliot's G.E.B. was going.

How did you feel watching this week's show?
You know what's coming, so that lessens the blow, but in this particular instance, I was actually with my parents who flew out here to watch it with me. ...  It's tough, obviously, because I wanted to win and I feel like I really could have. At that stage in the competition, I was going to be hard-pressed to be upset as I traveled around the world and, you know, I won $18,000, so that's nothing to complain about!

That's a great accomplishment, especially considering you found yourself on the losing team during many of the early episodes.
I definitely was on a nasty losing streak. Five weeks in a row, which made it really difficult because, the more you lose, it's like, "What the hell is going on here?" But through it, I kind of laid low and only garnered one vote throughout the five losses, so it worked out well and I got a couple wins, which was nice, so I have no regrets.

Were you surprised that you ended up eliminated?
No, I don't think so. ... Nookie and Avery and I had every intention in the world that one of the three of us was going to win that challenge and it was a guarantee that Liz was going to go home, so once that happened, I totally knew that it was coming.

So you expected that Nookie would vote you out over Avery?
Yes. I did. I don't know why, because Nookie and I were close the entire way, and Avery and I were as well, but I knew he was a schemer and I did see that he was creating this scenario with Avery and that I sort of fit in, because he knew she was one of the strongest, if not the strongest there, and so he sort of latched on with her and I fell into that as well. But I knew if it came down to the three of us, that it was over. He still, to this day, is giving me a hard time because I didn't vote for Avery and let him make the decision, but I still hold strong to my thought that there's no way he was going to vote for her and the way I saw it was ... we're down to the three of us, so I'm going to vote by the food, and Avery's dish was hands-down better than Nookie's. The poker player in him says I should have gone with the other choices, but there’s nothing I can do now.

What location was your favorite?
 The top one was easily Thailand. I've never been to southeast Asia before. ...  The culture is so starkly different than it is in America ... everything you see is a feast to the eyes and senses, and approaching it as a chef, it's unbelievable to just to see the way that culture lives. And to have planted rice in a rice paddy, I felt like I was truly immersed in that culture. In some countries, we didn't do beyond what the cliché stuff was. I've always been intrigued by street food ... so to be able to put [a street cart] together was awesome. I felt like that was probably the episode I was portrayed most authentically and I was just having an awesome time. Nookie is the ultimate street cart guy to have on your team, so that added a whole new level of entertainment. As you may or may not have noticed, others were not as enthused about the whole thing, so good to be on that side of it.

How's everything going at G.E.B.?
It's going well, yeah, it's a great spot. The Graham Elliot team did an amazing job putting it together. We're six weeks in. We're getting across what we hoped to get across: It's just simple, solid food in an atmosphere perfect for the summer ... It's been awesome to work with them and Chef Elliot is a great man. It's always been a goal of mine to work for him as long as I was in Chicago, so it's nice to finally do so.

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