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The Taste’s dumb judges: maddeningly rejecting food they like

ABC’s The Taste aired its second–and, mercifully, final–audition episode last night, and it drove me even more insane than the first audition episode. And that’s because the four coach/judges/chefs/whatever–Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Brian Malarkey, and Ludo Lefebvre–had a maddening tendency to reject a contestant and then praise that person for his or her amazing food.

“I really liked eating it. I’m not going to invite you to my kitchen,” Nigella told one person. “It’s right in my classic happy zone. I fear I screwed up,” said Anthony Bourdain told the same person. Later, he told someone else, “For no damn good reason at all, I passed. Excellent dish, excellent.”

Seriously, what the hell is that? It’s stupid and beyond Bourdain and chefs of this caliber.

I can see that happening once, maybe twice, as it has on The Voice, but it was over and over and over again this week and last week. It totally makes me ignore everything that might be good about the show because I’m questioning their competence as food competition show judges and/or questioning the competence of the producers who are coaching the judges.

The chefs sometimes babbled something about a rejected person they liked just not being good for their team, but they generally did not or could not articulate what they want for their teams or why that person didn’t fit in. Most frequently, though, they said something such as, I don’t know why I rejected you and I wish I hadn’t and I screwed up but oh well.

Ultimately, this is probably a failure of the structure. I suspect that having just four people on each team meant the chefs might have feared accepting someone who was an A- in case an A+ showed up. They should have been allowed to assemble a larger team and then narrow to four in a subsequent stage, whether by blind tasting or just after talking with each of their chosen teammates.

I am thrilled that the auditions are over, because I’m looking forward to seeing how the coaching and blind judging works, and because I would never watch another minute of this insanity again. It’s so frustrating I can’t even begin to express it.

If you want to drive yourself toward madness, watch this:

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.


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