The Taste premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC. The show, basically The Voice with food, features a mashup of four celebrity chefs judging a host of chefs based on only one single bite of their food. As in The Voice, the four judges will not see the chefs before eating their food.
As in every prime-time competition, a show's life or death revolves around the celebrity judges and their "it" factor.
ABC's gone all out by choosing none other than Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, Top Chef: Miami alum Brian Malarkey, and Anthony Bourdain. So what can we expect from the first episode? Will Bourdain become the new Simon Cowell? Will Nigella and Ludo battle as furiously as Mariah Carey and Micki Minaj? And what about the chefs competing on the show?
We asked Laura Lafata, who owns La Diva Cucina,
a private catering company based in Miami that specializes in combining
team building exercises with cooking and cocktail preparation, for the
inside scoop on the show. Lafata is one of the 60 contestants
chosen to compete.
While Lafata has nearly 30
years experience in catering and bartending, she has no formal culinary
training, so she was surprised when the call came in. "I was actually given only three days notice that I was
being flown to Los Angeles for the taping."
Although Lafata would not tell us how far she advanced in the show, she did say that out of the original 60 contestants, only 16 actually move beyond the initial tasting. She did give us some insight into what the initial filming entailed.
"When I first got there, I was interviewed. They filmed us constantly. I looked around and saw that there was a lot of talent there and a lot of good looking people."
Lafata said that she and the other contestants never got to meet or talk with the judges before cooking for them, although she and the other hopefuls were given full tours of the kitchens that they were to work in beforehand. "We were given a list of ingredients in the pantry and a certain amount of money in which to shop for proteins and other components, so were were prepared when the cameras started rolling."
As she was cooking for the judges, Lafata said the cameramen were asking her questions like "what do you think of all these younger chefs". Four chefs cooked at the same time, while "extras" were used to scurry about the kitchen to make it look like there was more activity on set.
Each chef was tasked with creating six "bites" of food on Asian soup spoons, along with a sample plate to photograph.
Then, one by one, the chefs were put into a cubicle while the judges blind-tasted their food. "You can't see anything in that cubicle. But you can hear the judges decide your fate. They're tasting your food and talking about whether they want you for their team."
Lafata said that what she did see was the faces of all the rejected chefs. "As you're waiting your turn, you just see the faces of these poor bastards after they're shot down. Almost everyone didn't make it."
We asked Lafata to tell us one shocker that we'd never, expect to see on The Taste. "I think you're going to be surprised by who the evil one is."
Could this mean that Lawson is the real Simon Cowell and Anthony Bourdain will twirl in his seat ala Paula Abdul? Guess we'll have to tune in tonight to watch.