On The Taste, four brilliant culinary minds need four cooks to join their kitchen. The concept is that each contestant has an hour to create the perfect bite to serve the judges in a blind taste test.
The panelists know nothing about the person who has prepared this bite or even what ingredients were used. Before the chef behind that single bite is revealed, the judges must lock in their vote.
Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson and Brian Malarkey all bring with them their unique culinary point of view and personality:
Ludo is a classically-trained French chef who is a master and incredibly charming. Nigella is polite, poised and ever the champion of the home cook. Malarkey is a chef and restaurateur with a bold, high-energy personality. While Bourdain's reputation usually precedes him, here we see a very reserved version, which seems disappointingly out of character.
However, the judges have good chemistry and watching them is entertaining. There is some good natured ribbing, busting chops and a little flirtation between Ludo and Nigella, which is humorous and endearing.
The Taste is a rip-off though. It's Top Chef meets The Voice, but sadly, the gimmick falls flat here. On The Voice, the concept of blindly choosing someone based on only the talent of their voice works for both the judges and the audience because the viewer at home is as much a part of that sensory experience as the judges on set are.
On The Taste, the viewers obviously can't be a part of that one bite so this concept just doesn't work as well. The judges do very little to paint a picture of what their palate is experiencing. As they chew while trying to decipher the ingredients. there's no description beyond a few confused mumbles, a nod or a shake of the head.
The show has had a slow start with the two-hour opening episode dragging as backstories were told, making contestants likable and relatable only to have them cut time and again. The judges were painfully picky which made me wish for the ability to fast forward live television at times. These seemingly endless auditions lasted a tedious two episodes... so I entered Week Three already skeptical but with a glimmer of hope that perhaps with the judges teams finally chosen that the real competition would heat up.
Sadly, my hopes were quickly deflated. The first half of the competition featured a team event with each mentor's kitchen cooking as a unit, being told to each create a comfort food recipe, only to have their mentor take over and completely negate their idea.
The only exception being Bourdain, who guided his team and defined mentor. When it came time to choose which of the four dishes would be up for tasting by the guest judge, once more the mentors take over making the decision despite the opinions of the team. No dish is overly creative and mostly it's just a lot of mac and cheese. Read: boring.
Now let's bring on the individual challenges! Will the competitors finally get the opportunity to let their individuality shine? Yes. However, with 16 contestants, everyone is pretty lackluster. Very few people stand out and no one really makes much of an impression. There's no attachment to the competitors and you don't find yourself feeling investing or pulling for anyone.
In the end, the hottest thing about this competition was the girl who set paper towels on fire not once but THREE times while cooking. I was initially excited to dig into this show, but it isn't even close to what I hoped it would be and I won't be coming back for any more.