It’s an interesting concept. Chefs, both professional and amateur, get one hour to cook a single bite that fits on a serving spoon. Then a panel of four renowned culinary minds tastes it and judges whether the person deserves to move on in the competition.
This is the initial premise of The Taste (Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC), which is basically The Voice, but for chefs. The problem is that, while we can hear the singers on The Voice and judge them for ourselves, we can’t do the same with food.
Sure, this is a problem with all cooking shows, but it seems especially relevant here since the entire premise of The Taste is that how the food tastes (aka the one thing the audience has no way of knowing) is all that matters.
The format of the show doesn’t help. It begins with blind auditions, just like The Voice, where the four judges must pick their teams of four chefs who will then move on to compete in head-to-head blind tastings (meaning a judge could accidentally vote to eliminate his or her own team member, a fact we’re reminded of about a dozen times in the premiere).
With only four chefs per team, the judges seem particularly picky in the early goings, which is also bad news for The Taste. The vast majority of chefs in the premiere don’t get picked, and most of the time the judges have instantaneous regrets about how dumb they were for not picking someone. Imagine if none of The Voice coaches turned around for 80 percent of the auditions.
The Taste tries to play up the fact that it has home cooks and professionals competing, and we’re supposed to be shocked and amazed when a home cook gets picked but a professional isn’t. The problem is the confusing nature of the audition. When you only have a single bite, it’s impossible to show off technique and plating, two key ingredients in any professional chef’s arsenal.
If you’ve seen Top Chef, Top Chef: Masters, Top Chef: Just Desserts, Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef, The Next Iron Chef, The Next Food Network Star, Chopped or countless other cooking competitions, then you have no need for one more.
The Taste also fails in terms of its judges. Culinary bad-boy Anthony Bourdain has become a parody of himself. Like Simon Cowell, his bark isn’t as strong as it once was. Nigella Lawson is a poor man’s Padma Lakshmi, Ludo Lefebvre is an incomprehensible Frenchman and Brian Malarkey finished fourth on season 3 of Top Chef.
The result is an unappetizing new reality competition that tries desperately to jump onto The Voice‘s bandwagon, but fails miserably. I’m not sure what the culinary equivalent of watching paint dry is (watching your souffle rise?), but The Taste is it.
Want to add The Taste to your very own watch-list? Download BuddyTV Guide for free for your phone.
(Image courtesy of ABC)