ABC’s The Taste sadly lacks flavor
ABC’s ‘The Taste’ is a new spin on a cooking competition show that could have used more time baking in the oven before being served.
While I don’t sit on The Food Network all night long like I used to years ago, I like a decent cooking competition show. I still catch Iron Chef whenever I can (read: these days, sadly, never), and I make time to watch FOX’s MasterChef when it returns. So, when I saw another cooking competition show coming to network television, I was excited at the thought that it might give me another fix weekly food porn.
ABC’s The Taste — which premieres tonight at 8PM — takes a different approach to shows like Iron Chef, MasterChef, Top Chef and Chopped. Each incoming contestant has one hour to prepare a gourmet meal that fits on a large spoon — and by large I mean it just barely fits in the judges’ mouths. The food doesn’t have to look good, it just has to “taste” good, hence the show’s title. The judges each get their own spoonful of the mini-meal, without knowing anything about the person who prepared it. After their tasting, they’re each required to decide whether they want the person who cooked that dish to be on their team … and I’m not entirely sure what that means, but more on that later. The contestant is then revealed to the judges, they reveal their yes/no vote, and we move on to another contestant. In the end, each judge needs to have a team of four, so they need to choose wisely.
It sounds like a neat premise, and the judges (who include Anthony Bourdain, for one) are a nice and mostly likable bunch. The problem is that, so far, this show looks to have needed more fleshing out before it should have been brought to air.
The first issue — which may be resolved in the on-air version of the episodes I screened — is that it’s not clear what the purpose or ultimate goal of the show is. Each judge works hard to cleverly form their team of four chefs, but we don’t know what those teams are supposed to be doing in the end. Do the teams work together to make one dish that’s later judged? And then who gets eliminated from each team? Do teams get cut down until one is left, and then it breaks out into individuals again? I just don’t know.
The other thing that bums be out about The Taste is the lack of, well, food. Too much time is spent on bringing in one contestant after another, and we barely see any dishes being created or get much opportunity to drool over the dishes being served. In a way we’re being just as cock-teased as the judges are with that small taste of what should be a larger meal. I want to see more food! I should be hungry after watching a show like this. I just felt frustrated.
Then there’s the weakest point of the show by far, and that’s the judging. The judges go about tasting the food and commenting to each other about it, then they make their hidden choices by pushing a button under the table they’re seated at. The contestant is brought up in some sort of elevator or transport tube, forced to stay inside it while the door opens to the judges. After a few minutes of them conversing with the judges, telling them what they do for a living and what the dish was that they just ate, the judges reveal their decisions … and they often regret them. Why the hell are they regretting their choice immediately following when they pushed the damned button? This happened several times! “I made a huge mistake.” What the WHAT? What this tells me is that at least this portion of the judging for the show is severely flawed. It’s one thing if they regretted their choice at another point later in the season — hell, later in the DAY — but minutes later? That should have been fixed before the show proceeded.
It could be that things get better as the season progresses, but so far this first couple of hours of The Taste is a flop.