Hey there TrashTalkers! It’s a new year and with that comes a new season of The Taste! I myself am new to the show, so my apologies in advance if I miss what I am sure are critical references to prior seasons and moments.
The second season begins with an introduction of the esteemed mentors. Up first is Anthony Bourdain who makes shit delicious. We also have Nigella Lawson who is hungry for patterned umbrellas to become a thing, Ludo Lefebvre who is one of the best chefs of LA but nowhere else, and new mentor Marcus Samuelsson who has won six beard awards with nary a facial hair.
Voice over Vinny tells us newbies how The Taste works and apparently the premise is identical to The Voice but without the badass chair spin. A multitude of “professional” chefs and regular joes like us will have just one taste to hook a spot on a mentor’s coveted cooking squad of four, who will then go head to head for the chance to win $100,000 and the overwhelming honour of winning the Pepsi challenge.
It’s audition time! We see a flurry of grating, straining, and gyrating as the chef hopefuls prepare their four identical bites in just one hour, with the hope that a blind mouthful will send one of the mentors into tastebud heaven and place them on their team. The trick is that the mentors have no idea who made what, and even what is in the food, which seems like my worst nightmare. I have had enough weird unknown things in my mouth, who wants to take a big steaming bite of mystery meat that could actually be spam with caviar.
It’s time to meet the contestants! Up first we have a 32 year old with 16 years experience, which lets be real, you shouldn’t count your job at MickeyD’s when you were 16 as chef experience, but to each their own. We are treated to a montage of his cooking skills as his friends look on in pain, questioning why they agreed to be filmed for this. Dude starts the drug sob back story as he half-asses his way through a stair master workout in front of 70’s mirrored closet doors so he can check out his own gluts as he steps in time to Pat Benatar.
As he walks up to the judging table to present his quail eggs and bacon (bacon is just so hot right now) I am disappointed with the set for The Taste. When you take away the huge red chairs of The Voice, and have the mentors just chilling in some folding chairs, the whole ambience feels very home ec competition. The raised circle stage is nice enough I guess. Maybe by season 3 the budget will allow for big X’s or a large trap door to drop out failing contestants. Anything to spice it up. (See what I did there? First of many my friends. I have quite the talent.)
Anthony calls the dish hipster, which makes Ludo like it that much more, and the judges lock in their votes under the table with the sneaky tap of a “Yes” or “No” button. The chef brings out a full serving of his dish and it looks like animal vomit. Anthony is out, Ludo takes it a touch too serious and is out also, Nigella is interested, mainly because she wants to bone the gauged earring chef. But wait, Ludo is also interested in learning more about how to make food hipster without forcing it into skinny jeans.
Nigella and Ludo begin their spiel to try and get McD’s on their team, and Ludo takes it to a sexist level right off the bat, which somehow convinces McD’s to go with the scary dragon and join in the sexist fun.
Back from the commercial break we learn that Anthony got his big break washing dishes at 17, until at 44 he wrote an obnoxious book and now he lives the American dream, getting paid to stuff his fat face. The next mentor, Nigella, has not been a professional chef, but she was a journalist which is pretty much the same thing. Loving flavour is all you need to meet the requirements to judge food on a television show apparently.
Anthony proves how old-white-dude he is as he tells us Ludo is his “brother from another mother” and the chef of “the hottest” restaurant in town. Everyone calls Ludo an asshat but seem to be able to look the other way due to his ability to cook a mean hot pocket. I’m talking same temperature throughout the entire pocket talented. Marcus is our “chef of the world” according to the white mentors, mainly because he owns a Bob Marley inspired slap bracelet.
We meet our next chef with cleavage, who considers herself professional because she cooks four different types of mac and cheese daily for her picky ass kids. The poor mentors have to shove her pile of crap in their mouths and I feel uncomfortable with the sheer volume of fellatio photos that must be all over the internet of these chefs. It’s time to vote, and the men are out, but Nigella sees cleavage collaboration potential as she picks the first chef for her team.
The pace slows down with garden gnome Don, who fills his science lab beaker with homemade wine and adorably discusses his marriage with Diana whom he recently tragically lost. Don knows whats up and has a wine glass at all times, even walking out to judging unabashedly sipping on his own brew.
The first two mentors vote no, but when Ludo put Don’s dish in his mouth he tasted heaven, and the music lets us know it’s redemption time for this sad man, as Marcus is also interested in tasting Don. Marcus pulls out his six awards on his first sales pitch which seems weak. I wonder how many times he will play that card? We get it, we get it. (I mean I don’t really, but my chef award knowledge is subpar at best). Don chooses Marcus after reminiscing about his incredible sham wow sales pitch at a recent food expo.
Up next is Sevan, who lacks confidence. He uses just six minutes to cut up his food, and the judges take even less time cutting up his shitty cup of smushed garbage. With that Sevan is out, and the next few contestants lack a touching enough backstory to warrant a full intro. The mentors taste three dishes and meet three contestants, all make it onto a team, and green shirt even makes it onto team Happy Criers.
Next up we meet Shellie Kitchen, who figured it would be easier to become a chef than change her last name. She owns a food truck for the drunk and has totally secretly poisoned her husband’s coffee after one too many passive aggressive “You love the food truck more than me” comments. (Don’t worry, at this point she’s only bitter enough to add poison to the point to knock him out for a few hours). The first three mentors are not interested, but Anthony has a soft spot for stoners and knows a medicinal card hook up when he sees it.
Unemployed, hipster glasses is next, and she hopes to prove that being a vegan is more than just being obnoxious, as she lights her towel on fire. Stereotypical Indian parents sit in angry silence backstage, as their daughter does her best Indian parent’s impression and pouts that she just wants to cook and doesn’t want to become a doctor, silly parents.
Again the first three mentors are out, and Anthony makes a big to-do but is also out as sad Sally’s face drops. Dad is a little too stoked about her failure as he secretly measures his daughter for a lab coat while pretending to console her.
Next up is Heather HealthNut, who was probably born in her pearl earrings. Her laugh is almost as obnoxious as her use of “super cute” and knowledge of kale. Anthony knows right away that shitty ass cupcake is vegan, so he’s out. HH prances out to share her vegan gospel and Ludo is legit confused that what he just ate was vegan.
The mentors discuss the importance of adding cheesecake to your thighs after eating cheesecake, but Ludo disagrees. Making something delicious with fat is easy, making something moderately edible without it is talent in his books. HH is apparently the first vegan to ever make it on The Taste, and I’m sad for vegans everywhere that this squinty, squeaky, prepster is your ambassador.
Our next contestant wants to be on Nigella’s team, so she is cooking meatballs to try and seduce her. We find out Audrey’s mom was diagnosed with cancer and the two spent her final days in bed together watching Nigella (yeah, totes not creepy Audrey). Her mother’s last gift was even a Nigella book, so meeting Nigella today will be like seeing her mother again. No pressure though, just re-connecting with a dead mother via a spoonful of meatballs.
Ludo and Anthony don’t enjoy Audrey’s balls in their mouths, Nigella is also out and with the press of a discreet button, crushes Audrey’s seance dreams. Fear not, Marcus is interested, as he tells Audrey all the things she did that sucked.
Next up is Lee, who was a young executive chef but lost his love and passion, so now he begrudgingly waits tables and moans about his former glory days. Somewhere deep down he still has the passion, and felt going on a reality television gimmick cooking show was the best way to rekindle that passion. The mentors know they have a professional on their hands after their taste, but question why he is now waiting tables (answer – dude didn’t like working more than 15 hours a week).
Nigella wants him, Marcus and Ludo do too, Anthony even tells Lee he reminds him of himself as he says yes and we have the first four yeses of the episode, which apparently is also the first four yeses ever! I feel like The Voice has so many four yeses, but that could be due to the joy involved in the chair spin. The Taste just doesn’t have that same yes incentive.
Anthony throws the other mentors under the bus, Marcus tells Lee he would like pretty in his kitchen, and Ludo gets fired up about something (who knows what with that accent), and the music escalates as Nigella gets in on the begging. Everybody wants Lee and Lee wants … commercials. Well played producers, well played. The suspense is agonizing, but we come back to learn that Lee has chosen … Anthony! Everyone acts surprised but it’s clear Anthony is the Simon of The Taste. (Methinks Ludo is the Paula).
The kitchens are filling up, and cake designer Jay wants to bring his shimmer lip gloss to the table as he opts not to make cake (too easy) and instead makes a main dish his former fatty self would have loved. Apparently after having weight loss surgery Jay found the confidence to come out, and I wonder just how much money he has that his ex-wife was able to convince herself Jay and his pink polo were into the pussy.
As the mentors taste Jay’s dough, I begin to wonder if there is someone on staff who’s job it is to pre-taste the spoons to ensure none of the judges burn their mouths. Is there anything worse than not being able to taste after burning your mouth? If there isn’t someone with that job, I gladly volunteer my tongue for the job, hazard pay and all.
It seems Jay’s spoon was a good one, as the mentors begin with the flattery as soon as Jay walks onstage. Anthony, Ludo and Nigella are all interested, and Jay chooses Nigella and then does the classic friend fake out that even his friends aren’t willing to pretend to buy.
The next three contestants can do good impressions, but apparently can’t do good food as they are contestant-montaged through in 22 seconds, none to make a team. I guess thats the tricky part of a food tasting show, the viewers miss out on the failures. We can hear it when a contestant bombs a singing audition, but how best to portray a chef bomb? For your sake I will not volunteer my services for that role, or else season 3 would be accompanied with poop shots and video of the mentors gulping Pepto Bismol.
Our next contestant failed the audition process season 1, but has taken the time to properly learn how to use intravenous drugs for his latest conceptual dish, which is promptly spat out by Ludo as Nigella hastily looks for her barf bucket. Anthony is impressed with the stuffing of multiple food items into other food items, but less impressed with the fact that it tastes like ass. All four judges are out and Breaking Bald is going home unredeemed and fresh out of turduckens.
Dana is up next, and she is making tacos because she doesn’t like working with male chefs. The only judge who has a taco is not impressed by the taco, neither is Ludo, but Marcus wants to dance with somebody and Anthony is tired of talking sports so he asks Dana to join his kitchen to discuss the latest Real Housewives.
Dana asks Marcus and Anthony to sell themselves, but really it doesn’t matter because she picks Anthony after reading that he loves Cleveland, because she also loves Cleveland and apparently there are even more moronic ways to make decisions than I originally thought.
Shehu, our next hopeful, brings us to the projects, where he grew up and apparently learnt that wearing two kinds of camouflage is a good look, in particular if one is blue and shiny. Inside his graffiti kitchen, Shehu tells us how everything he does is for his daughter, which doesn’t appear to include safety as his small child pours pasta into a boiling pot on the stove as Shehu mugs for the camera.
As the mentors smack their lips and discuss the exquisite flavours their refined palates can taste, I am hoping that at least one contestant fucks with them and makes Chef Boyardee. Nigella is up first and she is interested, as is Marcus, while both Ludo and Anthony are out. Shehu picks Marcus and more successfully pulls of the “I didn’t make it” fake-out with his loved ones.
With that Anthony and Marcus have full teams, Nigella’s team fills up with a final contestant that clearly was too boring to merit even a multiple contestant montage. So it is just Ludo who still needs more contestants, as most contestant’s with a choice have steered clear of his crazy.
Louise is up next, and she is a food stylist, which seems like a really difficult job to make such tiny and edible clothes. Louise is the first hopeful to bring up the $100,000 prize money, which frankly is not even that much these days. After tax that’s like a Kia Sorento and a pack of hot dogs.
Louise gets the awkward “Oh gosh golly, we love you, but our teams are full” speech from the three judges, as Ludo scoffs at Louise’s food stylist title, but takes her on his team anyways.
Our next contestant is scared of Ludo, which is perfect since he is the only mentor with a spot left on his team. Luckily another contestant finds Ludo sexy and another likes his saucy approach. Ludo’s facial expressions make it clear he is not interested in any of these three dishes, and with a grimace filled montage we see Ludo dismiss several contestants, even telling one to stop cooking all together.
Dish after dish, contestant after awkward contestant, is denied entry into Ludo’s kitchen, as Ludo becomes drunk with power from the attention. The other mentors are tired of shoving food into their gullets and plead with Ludo to make a decision already so they can go drop the kids off at the pool.
But Ludo is waiting for something special, and Marina is certainly special. She chops blindfolded, drinks animal’s blood, and is willing to cook raccoon. But she is not without competition, as we meet star spangled Michele who is about to knock it out of the park, at least in terms of number of swear words uttered in ten seconds.
Who did Ludo pick y’all? Sweet adorbs Marina or kick-em-while-their-down Michele? Marina’s spoon was too big, Michele’s was too dry, and as it is in love and war, size matters. Marina is in.
With that all the teams are full and each mentor discusses just how awesome their teams are, as if they can really know from one bite of food. They close out with a shot and a preview of the drama to come this season, and it looks spicy, sweet, and a touch nutty.