Food Shows

The Taste is still a mess…

the taste ABCI had a difficult time trying to come up with what to say about The Taste this week. Like Rebecca said, I really feel like I should be head-over-heels in love with it, or at the very least have a serious crush on it. I just don’t.

Here’s the thing: I know that competition shows can sometimes take a bit to work out the kinks and figure out what they want to do. It seems like The Taste just has too much of that going on. It’s disappointing because they have had great ideas to run with: comfort food, sandwiches, wine pairings, and this week – offal. It should be a great hour of interesting television. It’s just that it’s not. It’s loud and confusing and frustrating.

This week they stayed true to form (unfortunately). What’s worse is that I have no real idea of what’s going on during the time people are cooking. They have exchanged the idea of watching dynamics develop between the cooks and each other, as well as the cooks and their respective mentors for literally five seconds of exchange between everyone and one line soundbites from everyone about everyone else.

Here’s what I see in each kitchen right now:

Tony’s Kitchen (Diane, Uno, Ninamarie):

Tony and his team seem to have had a rapport develop between all of them. Or at least, I kind of see it. It’s clear that they all at least get along with Tony, which is more than I can say for some other teams…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

As for the cooks themselves, they seem to have settled into a quasi-competitive-but-supportive pattern. Again, I’m making an assumption based on the few seconds I’ve seen of their interactions as they cook. Sure there’s the omnipresent “My dish should have clearly been sent up in the first challenge” bit. Although I believe those sentiments to be true each time someone says a version of that, it’s becoming as worn-out as the “I like you but I said no and I’m KICKING MYSELF” schtick that the mentors had throughout the audition process.

Malarkey’s Kitchen (Khristianne, Brian, Adam):

Malarkey is trying a little too hard with the trash-talking. His constant yelling across the kitchens is supremely annoying. Sometimes a little goes a long way, no?

I have absolutely no sense of the rapport between the cooks on Malarkey’s team, but if I had to guess, they at least seem like they get along well enough.

Ludo’s Kitchen (Gregg, Paul, Sarah):

All I have to say here is that of everyone (cooks and mentors combined), Ludo really lost the plot this week. He’s clearly out of his element and behaving very Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. He switches wildly from behaving like a mentor to behaving like a hardcore chef in a French restaurant. There’s nothing wrong with the latter attitude, since he IS a French chef. It’s just not the forum for it when he carries the title “mentor”…which does not conjure up visions of being beaten down in the kitchen.

Example: Ludo was the most attentive to Sarah, a home cook that he doesn’t seem to think has the skill for the show since he practically babies her through everything. I’m not sure she needs the hand-holding, mind you, though she does seem to lack confidence. This week was a bit cringe-worthy as it looked like he was almost hitting on her, culminating in a moment where it looked like he might kiss her.

On the other side of the pendulum, he’s particularly hard on Paul, who was so frustrated with Ludo during the first challenge that he rebelled by not taking the much-needed advice from guest judges Frederick Morin and David McMillan during the solo challenge. Only in a universe where you’re feeling attacked and have HAD IT can someone decide to ignore their advice. I’m still a little shocked.

As for Gregg, he knows that he has a target on his back regarding everyone around him, but his interaction with Ludo was a living example of extremes this week. He went from being hugged and picked up when his spoon won the first challenge AGAIN (which everyone was pissed about), all the way to being reamed at the final tasting simply for making an Asian dish when Ludo said “don’t make Asian…stick to French”. Ludo’s lambasting of him was so brutal that even the other mentors shifted in their chairs and looked very, very uncomfortable.

Nigella’s Kitchen (Lauren):

This is the only mentor/mentee relationship that got any airtime last night. And by airtime, I mean more than five seconds, which is still not a lot. Nigella and Lauren seem to have one of the strongest bonds, probably due to the fact that she’s the last one standing in that kitchen. It further showed in the final tasting when Nigella pulled Lauren out of the fire by the skin of her teeth since Ludo, Malarkey and Tony seemed set on sending her home. I felt a little bad for Lauren at the end of the night because her number is probably up next week.

In the end, they sent home three cooks instead of two. So Uno, Ninamarie and Adam were out.

Overall I think the main problem is just too little time spent with contestants, and even less time spent with contestants and their respective mentors. It’s important to note that I had to go reference last night’s recording so I could get the names of the cooks correct. Only a few of the cooks have had enough camera time to be memorable. If they get a second season, they really need to do some re-tooling for sure.

About Reese Marino

Foodie and book nerd, Reese Marino owns more cookbooks than you can shake a stick at. She counts Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown among her idols, and merely aspires to be "just a little bit like Julia Child". When she's not in the kitchen, you can find her roaming local bookstores or writing about her twin passions of food and books on her blog, Miss Bookish Girl. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, their cats and an overflowing library.