Local chef advances on new cooking reality show

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DENVER -- Chef Jenna Johansen is preparing for a multi-cultural feast. It’s only fitting, as she’s just off a whirlwind world tour, which you can see on a television near you.

“The premise of ‘Around the World in 80 Plates’ is it’s a mix of ‘Amazing Race’ and ‘Top Chef’,” Johansen said.

The show takes Johansen and the other chefs to global cities, where they learn then cook the local cuisine.

“It’s very different to do something with a television camera following you and cooking in another country,” said Johansen.

But she has the chops to fight off the competition. The Boulder native has been cooking since she was a teen.

“I opened a couple of restaurants in South Denver, Ventura Grill and Ocotillo,” she said. “I was the chef at the Great Northern Tavern for a little while, about a year, and up in Vail I used to own a restaurant called Dish and I was the chef there for about 5 years.”

She can’t tell us how she did on the show, but for now Johansen is keeping busy being on a team of all-star Colorado chefs.

“Denver Five is five chefs, and it changes from year to year,” she said. “They’re rising stars or people who have been established here in Denver.”

The five hold various foodie events across town all benefitting local charities.

“There’s a lot of really, really spectacular chefs that could be winning any of these awards,” she said.

But Johansen is glad her new found celebrity will bring attention to the growing Colorado food scene.

“What I would love to see happen in Denver is a few more people really recognize the talent that we have here, and the restaurants that we have here,” she said.

‘Around the World in 80 Plates’ airs Wednesday nights on Bravo. So far, Johansen has made the cut in the first three episodes.