Saturday, February 16, 2013

TV "Preview": The Taste: Tuesday at 8|7c on ABC

The Taste is an new spin on cooking shows. While the premise is similar to Hell's Kitchen, namely selecting a semi-amateur, but talented cook to win a competition, the similarities end there. Similar to The Voice, there is a team of judges that in the first rounds selected competitors to be on their team. The judges went by cooking style as well as sometimes the personality of the competitor when making offers to join their team. In at least one case, this may have lead to negative vibes between a competitor and the celebrity judge, whose team the contestant did not elect to join.

You can read more about the actual process of selecting a winner below and actually watch a whole episode here (, but first I want to tell you why I find this show so much better than Hell's Kitchen and other cooking shows. First of all, while the comments by Anthony Bourdain may be sarcastic, there is no yelling. Clearly, when the contestants create their dishes, there is a high stress level, but the tone of the show is not as egregiously rude as that other cooking show.
I also love the concept of having a mix between team and individual competitions, with some interesting mystery ingredients thrown in. I believe that the mystery ingredients challenge the contestants, but also leave enough space that each contestant can extend their comfort zone to their own liking since they have a choice of mystery ingredients.

Another plus for the show is that the judges include an interesting and eclectic mix of characters, such as Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Brian Malarkey. They have very different cooking style and personalities. This often leads to the judges fighting more with each other than letting the contestants become the target of nasty comments. This to me is a nice change because clearly you do not enter one of these shows to fail. So every contestant is doing their best and the last thing they need is to be put down on national TV for lacking cooking skills. After all, all contestant want to become famous chefs and I believe that most contestants acknowledge that they have room for improvement and are eager to learn from the judges.

Quite honestly, I have been a fan of Anthony Bourdain for a long time and while I enjoyed watching Nigella's cooking show, Anthony's style of cooking and his brutal honesty just make him, in my opinion, the best judge on this show. Having a team, whose members he selected and who he wants to see win the competition, also permit Anthony to show a side that is not all snarky. I find his critique of the prepared food honest and his criticism constructive. So far Nigella and Ludo lost contestants in the individual rounds, while the teams of Anthony (yeah!) and Brian remained unscathed. I suppose it is only a question of time until these two have to give up contestants as well. In any case, all contestants I believe are benefiting from the mentoring efforts of the judges during the team round and the sofa cooks at home can get inspiration for some new creations of their own.

Here is some more information on how the winners and contestants going home each show (I try to avoid the L word because these people made to a national TV show) are selected:

After the teams were formed, the next rounds are now elimination rounds. Each show will now feature a team competition and individual competition. In the initial part of each show, the team competition will select a winning team and the contestant whose dish was voted best will have immunity for the subsequent individual competition. In the individual competition, each contestant is on their own. Creating a dish to be presented to the judges that then will select the best and worst spoons. Why spoons you may ask? The food in this show is presented on spoons, so each contestant when deciding what to prepare for the judges must be aware that the judges will only see and taste what can fit on a spoon. Overloading the spoon with too complex a dish can be a detriment as can be a dish that is overall lacking in spices because the food on the spoon will seem more bland than if you presented a bowl full of it to judges.

In this final individual round, the judges award stars to the best competitors, while also deciding which contestant(s) goes home. But rather than just read this and imagine how the concept works, you can watch the most recent episode of The Taste here. This video should also help to get into the mood for the next episode this coming Tuesday 8/7c on ABC and become familiar with the interesting cast of characters (which includes both contestants and judges!).

Disclaimer: I was provided free access to episodes and clips from The Taste and may be eligible to win rewards in exchange for an honest review. This review was posted in conjunction Despite of all this, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by Influenster, ABC or any third party.

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