I’ve become a little jaded with the food shows on the Food Network . I ‘m bored with Rachel Ray , Adam Richman , Iron Chef America,and Giada de laurentis and I’m sick of Guy Fieri. Bizarre Foods ( with Andrew Zimmern ) is still interesting but another good show would be welcome . Thus , when my niece told me about ” The Taste ” , the new food show on ABC , I was intrigued.
In a format obviously borrowed from The Voice , spoonfuls of food prepared by Taste contestants are evaluated by a panel of judges who have no idea whose cooking they are tasting . Unlike all the other food shows , chefs are judged solely by the dish they have prepared. The show has promise but now, after having watched three episodes , I have to say I’m disappointed.
In my opinion , there are two problems with the show . The biggest drawback is the panel of judges : celebrity chefs Ludovic Lefebvre, Brian Malarkey , Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain . They spend much of the time picking fights with each other , interrupting each other , running down each others’ team members and being just plain nasty .The worst offenders , in this regard, are Brian Malarkey and Ludovic Lefebvre who I think genuinely dislike each other. The only word to describe their behavior is sophomoric . I’ve seen high schoolers with more dignity than Malarkey ; he’s silly and obnoxious . Ludo descends to Malarkey’s level when he responds to Malarkey’s taunts and besides , he comes across as arrogant in the manner in which he treats his team members . Their antics distract from the main purpose of the show . Anthony Bourdain is relatively restrained and Nigella seems out-of-place with this bunch .
I also question the judges bona fides as chefs. One of the contestants snarkily remarked , as he was preparing to leave the show , ( How can I be fairly judged by ) “ Suzy Homemaker and a guy who hasn’t cooked in twenty years ?” ( referring to Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain ). That comment is a little harsh but I agree that these celebrity chefs don’t have the credentials of , say , Tom Colicchio , the head judge on Top Chef or the Master Chef panel of Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.
The other negative of The Taste is the quality of the contestants. They do not seem to me to be all that talented . Few of them are restaurant chefs . They are in the food business but they are not chefs . In fairness to them , I will admit that the Master Chef contestants were not all experienced chefs either but they seemed to me to be far more talented than this lot. There is also too little attention paid to the food and the cooking , with the camera focusing on the chef’s faces and the judges and not on the preparation of the food .
I may watch subsequent episodes just to see who wins but I have to rate this show as a disappointment.
By contrast , the final episodes of Top Chef : Seattle are a delight .The four contestants who figured in the semifinals and the final can really cook and they have interesting backstories which make them very likable . I liked all of them ( Josh , Sheldon , Kirsten and Brooke), each for different reasons and I was sorry as first ,Josh and then Sheldon were eliminated. Even though I’ve watched less Top Chef than The Taste , I feel I know more about the Top Chef contestants . This could be because there are so many contestants in the preliminary rounds of The Taste but I think it is also because The Taste regrettably focuses more on the judges than on the contestants .Top Chef contestants are undeniably more experienced cooks , real chefs who understand ingredients . Brooke is a co-owner/chef of two restaurants , Kirsten is a chef de cuisine and Sheldon is an executive chef: resume’s that compare favorably with those of the judges on The Taste.
Of the two finalists , I’d like to see Brooke Williamson win . She has won more challenges than anyone else and has a personality that appeals to me. Of course this is no guarantee that she will win because Kirsten too is a fierce competitor. Anything can happen in the final to be aired Tuesday . I’ll be rooting for Brooke but may the best chef win . No matter who does , there are no losers .