Despite a rather tepid first season, ABC’s cooking show The Taste is back for a second course. Will audiences bite this time?
For those who didn’t sample the show last year, The Taste brings together 16 chefs from across America, from talented amateurs to cocky professionals, who compete in themed cooking challenges for four celebrity chef judges.
Each dish made by the competitors is judged on a single bite of food – hence the show’s name – without the judges knowing who prepared what. The chef responsible for the worst bite of food is eliminated, and by the end of the season the ultimate winner goes home with $100,000 and a new car.
Last year’s competition was won by Khristianne Uy, Charlie Sheen’s personal chef at the time, but the show’s less-than-delicious ratings had many assuming it wouldn’t be back. Presumably ABC smells a potential winner, and decided to stir the pot once more.
Of course, judge Nigella Lawson’s personal drama has threatened to cast a shadow over the show, with the British domestic goddess becoming a tabloid target following her recent divorce from businessman Charles Saatchi, after a public tiff in which Saatchi was photographed grabbing Lawson’s throat. Then, during a fraud trial against the couple’s former personal assistants, Lawson admitted to cocaine use, although she says it was infrequent and that she’s been drug-free since her relationship to Saatchi ended.
(If you’re in the mood for a drinking game, take a shot every time Lawson says something about food that could be reinterpreted as being about cocaine: “I’m loving this!” “It utterly seduced me!” “I need a paramedic!” Trust me, you’ll be drunker than a brandy-soaked pudding in no time.)
In advance of Thursday night’s two-hour season premiere, here’s a quick look at the judges of The Taste, and the flavours they bring to the show.
No-nonsense, outspoken, globe-trotting chef, known for A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations, despite being a vocal critic of the commercialization of celebrity chefs. Has a drug use history that makes Nigella Lawson look like a grade schooler who sneaks Pixy Stix. Says stuff like, “This food was made by a person who’s never had sex.” Ouch!
New addition to the show, replacing Brian Malarkey. Born in Somalia, raised by adoptive parents in Sweden, lives in New York City’s Harlem. Extensively educated in the culinary arts. Cooked for Barack Obama’s first state dinner at the White House. Winner of 2010’s Top Chef Masters, beating out 21 competitors.
Born, raised and trained in France before making a name as a chef in the U.S. Popularized a series of pop-up restaurants in L.A. that became word-of-mouth legends. Only L.A.-based chef to receive the Mobil Travel Guide five-star award at two different restaurants. Tattooed, occasionally caustic, likes vulgar French hip-hop.
Buxom Brit equally well known for her sumptuous dishes as for being impossibly gorgeous, especially given she’s almost 54 years old. Oversees an empire of cookbooks and cooking shows, including Nigella Bites, Nigella Feasts and Nigellissima. Not formally educated in cooking techniques. We’d marry her in a heartbeat.