×

The Taste

In TV terms, "The Taste" is a warmed-over dish, a fast-food version of "The Voice" whipped up for the culinary crowd.

With:
With: Ludo Lefebvre, Brian Malarkey, Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson.

In TV terms, “The Taste” is a warmed-over dish, a fast-food version of “The Voice” whipped up for the culinary crowd. Featuring four chefs/foodies blindly tasting concoctions served up by various contestants — some professional chefs, others aspiring amateurs — the show doubtless has some appeal for avid Food Network viewers, but as the two-hour premiere drags on, the concept offers little hint of possessing the appeal necessary to satisfy ABC’s more expansive appetite. Every hit deserves several knockoffs, but this one comes across as perilously bland.

The quartet of mentors — chefs Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey, British style maven Nigella Lawson, and bon vivant Anthony Bourdain — taste the dishes prepared by the candidates without seeing them or knowing a thing about who made them. The hopefuls then come in and discuss their creations, either to be pilloried or praised.

Although billed as “a cooking competition unlike any other,” the series resembles any number of cable contenders. And as ABC discovered with “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” while everyone might eat, the broadcast potential of those interested in analyzing cooking at this sort of granular level remains far less proven.

Perhaps eager to bridge that gap, “The Taste” does feature some aggressive product-placement, including $100,000 in cash and a Ford car to the victor, while the contestants conspicuously disembark a Southwest Airlines flight.

All these shows hinge in part on the hopes, dreams and disappointments of the participants (one of them includes Charlie Sheen’s personal chef, whose recipe, alas, does not include Tiger’s blood), along with the ability of the judges to articulate criticism. Bourdain, perhaps not surprisingly, excels in the latter regard, though no one here is as relentlessly pugnacious as Gordon Ramsay, whose in-your-face shtick has managed to make food all but secondary to his TV act.

Ultimately, such me-too exercises seldom yield the hoped-for results. And while “The Taste” certainly works hard to foster a sense of excitement and tickle the palate, this appetizer feels like just the latest half-baked competition idea that doesn’t deliver.

The Taste

ABC, Tues. Jan. 22, 8 p.m.

Production: Produced by Kinetic Content. Executive producers, Chris Coelen, Matilda Zoltowski, Emma Conway, Anthony Bourdain; Nigella Lawson; director, Brian Smith. 120 MIN.

Cast: With: Ludo Lefebvre, Brian Malarkey, Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson.

More TV

  • Anjelah Johnson'The Curse of La Llorona'

    HA Comedy Festival Sets Lineup, HBO Max Comedy Special

    The newly launched HA comedy festival backed by WarnerMedia and New Cadence Productions has set its dates, talent lineup and plans for a special to air on HBO Max. The festival, to be held Feb. 21-23 in San Antonio, Texas, is designed as a showcase for Latinx comedians. It’s part of a first-look development pact [...]

  • Alex Cross

    Alex Cross TV Series in the Works at Amazon (EXCLUSIVE)

    James Patterson’s Alex Cross could soon be coming to the small screen. Variety has learned exclusively that Amazon is currently developing an Alex Cross TV series, based on the novels starring the character written by Patterson. Throughout the book series, Cross works as a detective, FBI agent, and psychologist in Washington D.C. There is no [...]

  • Scott Z. Burns

    Apple TV Plus Nears Series Order for Scott Z. Burns Climate Change Anthology (EXCLUSIVE)

    Apple TV Plus is nearing a series order for “Extrapolations,” a new climate change anthology from Scott Z. Burns, the writer, director and producer known for “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Report,” Variety has learned exclusively. The streaming platform is developing the anthology with an eye toward a series order, amid a competitive bidding situation. [...]

  • 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Station 19' Boss

    How 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Station 19' Will Sync Up for Its 2020 Crossover

    Nearly a year after “Grey’s Anatomy” made television history by becoming the longest-running primetime medical drama, the ABC series is taking on a new challenge on Thursday, Jan. 23: becoming more immersed with its spinoff, “Station 19,” for a more unified two-hour weekly block. But while there are natural ties between the two dramas, trying [...]

  • Guinan Picard Whoopi Goldberg Patrick Stewart

    Patrick Stewart Invites Whoopi Goldberg to Join 'Star Trek: Picard' Season 2

    In an emotional moment on Wednesday’s episode of “The View,” Patrick Stewart invited Whoopi Goldberg to appear on the second season of CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Picard,” reprising her character of Guinan from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Goldberg — who quickly and gladly accepted — appeared to be totally surprised by Stewart’s offer, [...]

  • Allison Brightman CBS

    Allison Brightman Named CBS TV Studios' Head of Business Affairs and Operations

    Veteran CBS Television Studios business affairs executive Allison Brightman has been elevated to executive vice president of business affairs and operations at the studio. She succeeds Dan Kupetz, who is joining 20th Century Fox Television to lead its business affairs unit following the retirement of Fox’s Howard Kurtzman. “Allison’s skill sets are extraordinary,” said Deborah [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content