Recently, I saw TV’s latest foodie talent show, ‘The Taste’ for the first time. A double whammy, in fact: not only did I see the original UK version, but yesterday I also saw how they do it in the USA.
Entertaining as it may be: I don’t think I will be watching much more of it. You don’t really learn anything about cooking or ingredients, but instead you do learn a lot about the massive, clashing egos of the contestants and the judges. Basically, watching The Taste means you lock yourself up in the presence of a truly obnoxious, egotistical crowd. Where the quality of the food seems to be of secondary importance.
Obviously, the American version is worse than the English one, because Americans are always so fake, so pumped up, so hyper and so arrogant. It was actually quite delightful to see how almost all of the contestants failed to make it through to the next round. And to hear the excuses they made… no, there was nothing wrong with their food, but the judges just did not ‘get it’, a sad cook mused after his deep-fried watermelon failed to impress.
The judges are as annoying as the contestants. Egomaniacal, exaggerated, cartoonesque. Ludovic, a heavily tattooed Frenchman with an accent that puts Pepe le Pew to shame and who clearly has been told by the producers to say ‘sacrebleu’, ‘bordel’ and ‘merde’ as often as possible. Nigella has been asked to crank up the estrogen levels, she just bats her false eyelashes and lets her boobs quiver, and that’s basically all she does. Anthony Bourdain is probably the only real judge out of the four, and judge he does, ruthlessly so… and almost always the aspiring cooks deserve the humiliation Anthony serves up in short, sharp verdict. The fourth judge in the USA is a certain Malarkey, and his bizarre name is really all that is worth noticing about him.
If you enjoy watching a show full of unpleasant, self-absorbed annoying twats, then The Taste is essential tv for you, especially if you like seeing crushed egos and dashed hopes. However, if you are genuinely interested in good food, or if you are one of those people for whom cooking is not a bloodsport but something that is done with love, then by all means stick to the Great British Bakeoff.