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Diatribe: “The Taste” Is A Spoonful Of Boring.


LUDO LEFEBVRE, NIGELLA LAWSON, BRIAN MALARKEY, ANTHONY BOURDAINI watch too much television and, admittedly, there are times when I find myself watching something because I’m too lazy to search for the remote control.  This, in part, explains why I know so much about House Hunters and other HGTV fare.  Last night, I spent two hours watching experts taste tiny spoonfuls of unusual foods.  I watched The Taste.

“You don’t HAVE to watch that” I was gently reminded but, because the remote control was out of reach at the other end of the sofa, I suffered on.  The premiere episode of this new reality competition on ABC included blind auditions of both professional and amateur cooks.  During these “auditions”, four judges who will later become team mentors tasted one spoonful of food from each contestant … before knowing who cooked it or what ingredients it contained.  After each spoonful, the judges would decide if they want the contestant on their team.  The Taste is, essentially, The Voice with food instead of singing.

For me, it was television torture.

In the past, I’ve enjoyed other food/kitchen-based programming.  There are probably a few episodes of Cupcake Wars on my DVR right now (the host is adorable) and I’ll watch anything that features Buddy Valasco because I find these shows mindlessly entertaining.  The Taste, however, focused more on the judges than on the contestants.  While most viewers have never heard of them, their personalities fit into the various categories that we’ve grown to expect …

  • The Bitchy One – Like Kara DioGuardi (American Idol) and Christina Aguilera (The Voice) before him, Brian Malarkey offered little to learn from but attitude.
  • The Guy With The Accent So Thick You Can’t Understand Him – Think of Bruno Toliono (Dancing With The Stars) or Florian Bellanger (Cupcake Wars) and you’ll be close to almost understanding Ludo Lefebvre.  He could be giving excellent advice but we’ll never know.
  • The Mother Hen – Nigella Lawson plays the role formerly performed by Sharon Osborne (America’s Got Talent), Georgina Chapman (Project Runway) and Jennifer Nettles (Duets).  She acts really sad when she sends a contestant home.
  • The Snooty British One The Taste’s Anthony Bourdain could have taken judging lessons from Simon Cowell (American Idol/X Factor), Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance) or Piers Morgan (America’s Got Talent).  It’s just a matter of time until he calls something “simply dred-fuhl”.

As much as I’d like to be a television critic (please send offers HERE), I can’t find anything nice to say about The Taste other than the fact that it follows the proven formula of successful competition programs before it.  Like its predecessors, it included the usual assortment of contestants (the old one, the heavy one, the single one, the lesbian, the poor one, etc.) but there’s not enough time in a spoonful to get to know any of them enough to care if they can cook.  The concept of keeping the contestants’ identities hidden barely works on The Voice but not at all in this instance.  There’s not even a host because there wouldn’t be anything for him/her to do.

Watching The Taste was like watching strangers eat appetizers that they didn’t like.  Yeah … it was that bad.

I’ve learned my lesson.  I’m buying a second remote control.


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From → Diatribes

  1. I love cooking shows but this just sounded “simply dred-fuhl”.
    Glad I missed it.


  2. i remember back in the day when i found cooking shows. there were several i liked and watched when i got the chance. now so many shows seem to involve competition, which doesn’t attract me at all.

    i like the barefoot contessa and watch it when i’m at mother’s and it’s on. we don’t get cable here at the house. we don’t miss it.

    well, _i_ don’t miss it. my husband would love to have any sports networks available. do you have a diatribe about the state of sports coverage on over-the-airwaves tv?


    • I used to watch Julia Child when I was a kid. I found programs like hers, and the Barefoot Contessa (and even Paula Dean for that matter) to be educational. I’ve never written about sports coverage but that’s a good idea!


      • Sunny permalink

        Did you learn anything about cooking that was special from Julia Childs?


        • I think the biggest lesson that anyone learned from her was that good cooking can’t be rushed. You have to take your time and let things simmer to get the best flavors. I’m sure you’ve seen Meryl Streep’s Oscar-nominated performance in Julie & Julia. It was a wonderful movie about the life of Child.


  3. Sunny permalink

    Diatribes I miss you on RR.
    You and I must watch the same shows. I got a new remote. Still having the same problem.
    I fall asleep watching them usually the last 5 minutes so I don’t know what happened.
    I like Person of Interest.
    The Taste sounds dreadful. I do like the recipe for Bicardi Rum Cake.
    So, when are you going to write for us again. Sunny


    • Hi! It’s great to see you commenting again. I’m taking a break from RR because, frankly, some of the folks in the RR community make my blood boil. I enjoy a thoughtful and intelligent debate but if I want to hear bickering I can open my office door. LOL Hope you’ll keep reading!


  4. I watched the premiere of The Taste & actually had
    a completely different opinion. I liked the fact that the judges
    could not see who prepared the food when they made their decisions.
    I find too often the judges pre-judge the contestants based on
    “who” they are rather than on what they cook. I further like the
    idea that the contestants who do make the team will be coached by
    their mentors at some point. It’s funny how 2 people can watch the
    same show & come away with completely different


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