A Taste Of "The Taste"

The new, highly-advertised culinary cooking challenge show with a twist has hit television. The Taste, ABC’s attempt at challenging The Voice and other reality singing/dancing competitions with a food-focused free-for-all, premiered Tuesday night with a 2-hour launch.

The hosts? Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Brian Malarkey. The four will each acquire four chefs to train under them, and will then make their own dishes for the mentors to judge blindly. From there, they may actually end up voting off their own team members unexpectedly. In this competition, it’s all about the taste, and not the personality.

The first two-hour block of auditions started slowly, until each of the hosts acquired their first chef. From there, it rapidly goes through each contestant (probably skipping a few) and recipe.

To start off, one contestant makes Pineapple Maitake, Ground Turkey, Sun-Dried Tomato, Mac and Cheese Stir-Fry, something Bourdain described as “a food crime.” The disaster lays into an opportunity, as Sarah’s Seared Scallops with Peach Habanero Salsa has her quickly have the option of either Ludo or Brian’s team (going for Ludo’s), while Brian got the home chef for Charlie Sheen, based on her Seared Scallops with Creamed Corn and Cilantro Chili Oil. One made Chicken Fried Watermelon with Pickled Watermelon Rind, a dish that everyone love and regretted not choosing. Jalapeno Kugel with Mushroom Sauce and Seared Ahi Tuna with Ginger Sweet Potato Puree fly over with no luck, but Renatta joins with Nigella based on her Chicken and Mashed Potatoes with Cabbage, Carrots, and Sauce. Bourdain finally joins the others with Indian Spiced Lamb with Mint Cilantro Sauce.

Once all four hosts had acquired at least one team member, the rest of the show flies through other contestants. There’s no rhyme or reason; they’ll fly through one contestant that has a chance, then spend time on one they universally hate, all while having peeks into interesting moments that only get a quick glance on the show, but deserve more.

Some of the recipes seemed nice, some seemed bland. The show didn’t go into the limits of what they could produce, beyond “it has to fit on the spoon.” All the contestants seemed to go to the same grocery store to acquire their wares, but a few redundancies, such as scallops and Chilean Seabass (more horrifyingly known as the Patagonian Toothfish), implies there’s a little more structure behind the scenes.

Another oddity? Multiple contestants mentioned quitting their jobs for the chance to try out for this show. How bad is your job that you have to leave it to enter a contest? Nobody ever says “I quit my job to fill out this survey for a chance to win a new computer”.

The show seems to be worth a return to, if for the simple fact we’ve not seen any of the actual contest. All the first episode features is the teams being formed.

Give it a shot; we just hope for more on the actual food.