I may have an unhealthy addiction to cooking competition shows, but now I’m being enabled as Autumn, Alex, and myself all watch this new show. The Taste is like The Voice meets Masterchef, where the judges each have a team and the judging is done blind. Since lack of blind judging has been a major complaint on shows like Top Chef, I’m excited to see a show were personal bias is as close to eliminated as humanly possible.
We’re starting with the third episode, which is the first official episode. The first two were the frustrating and annoying audition rounds. Our four judges seemed determined to hold out for some culinary genius that never came, saying repeatedly that food was good but they passed. But! That part is over and now we’re on to the good stuff.
Autumn: Nigella; Bourdain a close second. They both are very much anti-pretentious–the arrogant professional chefs who did not make it onto the teams get quite a public shaming on this show. Nigella is a home cook and is patron saint of home cooks so it feels like rooting for the underdog.
Alex: For me it would be Malarkey. But to be honest some of that is because of the name. I wasn’t familiar with the other chefs aside from Bourdain before this show, and I’m not a fan of Bourdain. I do like Malarkey’s style though and the kind of food he is looking for from his team.
Tori: I’m totally Team Ludo. He seems to think this some incarnation of Hell’s Kitchen where he needs to berate his team into not failing. It’s a terrible strategy but I have an affinity for people on reality shows who try to play the game, even when it’s the wrong game. Hell, especially when it’s the wrong game. I also adore Bourdain and he’s always a favorite guest judge on Top Chef but I unfairly blame him for the level of snark in TC judging now: like they saw how popular he was and decided that was the way to go.
Favorite Individual Cheftestants:
Autumn: Lauren (Team Nigella), Uno (Team Bourdain). Lauren is a home cook and I personally worry about the range of her repetoire–this is something I identify with while watching her compete. Uno’s use of organ meats in her dish made her an obvious choice for Bourdain. I like cooks that can use “icky” ingredients successfully.
Alex: Khristianne Uy from Team Malarkey. Duck Fat seared Scallops? I don’t even like scallops and I want those in my mouth. Also she had to put up with Charlie Sheen, so obviously she can handle any of the crap these guys put her through. I also like Lauren Scott from Team Nigella, because she is young and yet is so passionate about food. I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with!
Tori: I love Khristianne (Team Malarkey). She seems to have a unique culinary point of view which is the judge way of saying I want to eat her food. I have an irrational love for Jeff because he reminds me of Ben Wyatt from Parks and Rec. I share the Lauren love, but I also love of the nerdier guys like Paul. I was totally ready rake Paul over the coals for calling Sarah a damsel in distress but then they cut to her holding a towel that was on fire, and then another towel catches fire on her station, and I was like, “Okay, Paul. You win this round.” Diane drives me nuts. I appreciate her desire to be a personality but she grates, which is too bad because her food might be awesome. It’s too early for me to pick an outright favorite though.
Overall Initial Thoughts and Impressions:
Autumn: I absolutely adore the attempt at blinding in this show. Having studied neuroscience I know how crucial this is to judging something fairly. I do have to say that the professional guest chef judging the teams’ dishes while standing in front of the contestants is not blinded. I understand why this was done for the sake of drama, but why sacrifice the show’s major strength–its testament to objectivity?
Alex: I didn’t dig the first two episodes, but after seeing the first episode of the teams working together I think my opinion of the show will be changed. I love cooking shows, and contest cooking shows, so I don’t see what I wouldn’t like. I also like the idea of the judges not knowing who prepared the dishes – it means less bias and more concentration on the food. I do feel that should continue to be the main focus of the show as it progresses.
Tori: I love the idea of blind tasting to foster fair judging based solely on the food. I also like the challenge of the cheftestants having to fit their flavor profile into “one bite” on a spoon. It means they really have to think about each element. I’m hoping that as the show goes on, teams band together and learn from mistakes, rather than it turning into senseless shouty drama.
Are you watching The Taste? What do you think so far? Who are your favorite mentors/cheftestants?