ABC's The Taste Judges/Mentors

ABC’s The Taste Judges/Mentors (photo credit

I initially ignored ABC’s newest reality competition show The Taste. It just seemed to be capitalizing on the strong showing of “The Voice.” Sure, I’m a huge fan of the show that prove that singing ability isn’t related to the ability to the way one looks. We’ve had enough great looking people who can’t sing make it to the top. But still, I wasn’t excited about The Taste.

I happened to catch an episode the other day and I realized that it’s not just the food version of “The Voice” and I’m hooked. I watched all of the episodes that have been aired on Hulu Plus and I’m now a fan. Don’t have Hulu Plus? You can watch full episodes at as well.

The Taste stars the worldwide traveling foodie, Anthony Bourdain who’s introduced on the show as an ex-chef, Nigella Lawson a foodie and blogger, Ludo Lefebvre a temperamental French Chef, and celebrity chef Brian Malarky who competed in season 3 of Top Chef. The four each mentor a team and act as judges and that’s where the fun of this new show comes. The four have no idea whose dishes they’re tasting which means they could be sending home someone on their own team.

The teams were chosen in a round of blind tasting pitting experienced chefs against home cooks. The judges didn’t find out who the cook was until after they decided whether or not the creator would be invited to join their team. Once the teams were formed, it was game on.

Team Malarky - ABC's The Taste (photo credit

Team Malarky – ABC’s The Taste (photo credit

The show focuses on the taste of the dish, not so much on presentation, which is a welcomed change in cooking competition shows. Gone are the fussy plates and extensive platting techniques and in its place a simple Asian spoon with one bite of the dish. That one bite make the difference on who stays and who’s time in the competition has come to the end.

Celebrity judges are mixed in and while they guide their teams in side-by-side team kitchens, it’s the perfect opportunity for some friendly sparring between the mentors. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that it’s friendly. Lefebvre appears to not get the US chef’s humor and is my least favorite mentor – he’s a bully in the kitchen and a bit of a jerk during deliberations. It’s explained off that he’s French, but to me rude is rude. Granted he’s egged on by Malarky quite often who couldn’t have a more appropriate name – he’s full of it.

But the surprising reason why I’m loving The Taste is Bourdain and Lawson. I’ve always found Bourdain rude and condescending in his previous TV ventures, but in this application and within this grouping, he actually shows a softer side that’s a pleasurable change from the grimy and gritty Bourdain I’m more accustomed to. And I’m loving Lawson. She’s a real woman who’s proud of her curves, her love of food, and she speaks her mind.

So who am I rooting for? Charlie Sheen’s personal chef is in the running and so far she’s my top pick.

The show works for me and I’m actually interested in seeing who wins. Check out The Taste at 8|7c Tuesdays on ABC

Check out the Recipes from The Taste

  • Renatta’s Dijon Chicken with Mashed Potatoes
  • Roast Beef with Bacon Aioli and Arugula Pistou
  • Lauren’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
  • Gregg’s Five Spice Short Ribs
  • Sarah’s Bourbon BBQ Shrimp and Grits
  • Lauren’s Chicken Stew
  • Uno’s Larb Gai “Lucky Chicken”
  • Gregg’s Thai Lobster Bisque
  • Jeff’s Miso-Cured Red Snapper