“The Taste” Semi-Finals Get Political

By Karen

With only one more week to go of Anthony Bourdain’s ABC cooking competition, somebody should sell souvenir T-shirts…

I Survived


The Taste

Last night was semi-finals, with the theme “Seduction.” Ingrid Hoffman was guest judge.

The show’s biggest waste has been guest judges. They’ve been ineffective human spackle on the logic hole created by having judges mentor and blind-taste.

This week’s prize for that challenge wasn’t immunity, but a massive cookware set.

Ludo reluctantly passed over Gregg’s spoon in favor of his new squeeze, Sarah the food blogger. And Sarah won.

We got another brief moment of Ludo and Sarah making goo-goo eyes. And after seeing how she stiffened and averted her gaze when Ludo kissed her cheek upon winning, you’ll never convince me those two aren’t an item.

Tony’s team was down to Diane, and while mentoring he coaxed her to remind us she once lived in a cardboard box under a bridge or something. Then he had a cut-away to swear Diane really, really wants to win.

Nigella worked alone with her Mississippi trailer girl, Lauren.

Malarkey still had Jeff and Khristianne.

(For the record, can anybody tell Khristianne’s gender? ABC’s website uses “she,” and I thought she’s female, but last night everybody was calling her “Christian.” Wouldn’t “-ianne” be a female name and pronounced like “Ariane?”)

Ludo still had Paul, Gregg, and Sarah. Swearing at and demeaning his team has been a winning formula.

While waiting for the big challenge to begin, Bourdain emphatically declared, “There’s nothing sexy about dessert,” to show he had no idea Diane was doing something uninspired with fruit and melted chocolate.

When judging began, Gregg and Sarah suddenly popped into the finals. Because nobody hated their spoons? When Khristianne became the first cook to get 3 gold stars (likes), she joined them.

Then the suspense got intense with only one slot left, and Lauren, Jeff, Paul, or Diane to fill it.

Lauren had prepared octopus, which she’s never tasted or cooked before, and it was good. So they sent her home and wiped out Nigella’s team.

Paul got sent home because Ludo hates him and has never given him the first break.

So it was between Jeff and Diane. Jeff had actually gotten one gold star; Diane none. And Diane had the pedestrian dessert.

If you think Diane went home, you’re wrong. They eliminated Jeff — and all doubt that politics isn’t a factor. Any IDIOT can see it is.

If Diane got the axe, both Bourdain and Nigella became spectators in the finals, watching Ludo and Malarkey duke it out with 2 cooks apiece.

Bourdain had to keep a dog in the fight, and no way was a little old down-home cook like Lauren, who stuck her neck out and succeeded, staying instead of Ludo’s new girlfriend Sarah.

Gracious, classy Nigella was the most likely judge to accept irrelevance in the finale. (Tony could have pulled it off, but as an exec producer and the show’s “big draw,” why should he?)

At the end, we got a glimpse of the coveted trophy, optimistically engraved “Season 1.”

Now, I love most of Anthony Bourdain’s work, and he’s often just brilliant. But if he never wastes another minute of his life producing crap like The Taste, the world will be a better place.

28 Responses to “The Taste” Semi-Finals Get Political

  1. Trishia says:

    ha! I love it. Couldn’t agree more. The Taste IS crap and Tony can defend it all he wants with his ‘It was the last thing you’d expect of me’ nonsense. I was thinking about the tantrum he had last year over Travel Channel inserting a commercial thinly disguised as AB endorsing a car, if I recall correctly, yet now he’s producing and starring in a show that included a commercial for Ford’s C-Max WITHIN the show. When one contestant gushed and demonstrated the hands-free mechanism, I threw up in my mouth.

    To me hating dessert is like hatings sunsets, the ocean or sex. It’s just not normal, yet week after week I have to listen to AB whine about how he hates desserts and they aren’t ‘sexy’. Yet king crab is? oookay

    As for Nigella on the couch telling Ludo she prefers that a man not take her in a gentle manner, good thing I wasn’t eating while I watched is all I can say.

    Speaking of throwing up, here’s a Q&A between Ottavia and Tony, mostly about her ‘hobby’.


  2. Carrie says:

    My DVR stopped recording “The Taste”. I realized two weeks later, this show has been missing from Saturday Morning Coffee Catch Up with The DVR Time. I live in LA and have to hear about Ludo’s “pop up” constantly, but … really … he’s such a Dbag (sorry), I’m just not interested.

  3. catsworking says:

    Trishia, somebody who slaps their name on an $18 chocolate bar has lost all right to kvetch about chocolate — EVER. What if Diane had melted HIS Good & Evil bars to make her dessert? Would that have changed his opinion, I wonder? I agree with you that his blanket condemnation of desserts was over the top, even for him. And he HAS enjoyed sweets at times. Like some chocolate torte in Vienna, I think it was. And maple bacon doughnuts in the Northwest (Seattle?).

    I laugh at Hellmann’s mayonnaise as a sponsor. Why, Kraft (whose mayo is far tastier, IMO) wouldn’t touch the show?

    Did some snooping yesterday and learned that Ludo is married to some chick who was on The Apprentice, which makes his demeanor toward Sarah even more contemptible. This week they showed him fighting with everybody but Bourdain. What a total douche that guy is, trying so hard to be the Gallic Gordon Ramsay. I regret that Paul didn’t make it into the finals and win. Then he could have popped Ludo one in the mouth and made TV gold.

    Trishia, thanks for that link. I think Ottavia’s a regular contributor on that site now. Until she gets seriously hurt and sidlined, I guess Tony has no choice but to go along because she could easily get him in a chokehold and snap his neck like a cheap chopstick. 😉

  4. adele says:

    I didn’t catch this week’s Taste until last night, and I admit it left me baffled. I wasn’t sad to see Paul go — he never seemed like a good cook to me, but how Jeff, who got one gold star could go home and Diane, who got none and whose spoon no one liked, could stay. defied credulity. That is; if one ever believed that judging was based solely on blind tasting. And I figured that once Lauren revealed her purity pledge, she was toast regardless of what she made.

    I noticed the trophy with Season 1 on it and just laughed, but I think The Taste could be back, since it only runs 8 episodes and could be a handy mid-season filler. It doesn’t bring out the best in any of its hosts, and it’s never given me one cooking idea. Top Chef,at least has caused me to check out a few ingredients.

    I didn’t have huge hopes for the “one spoon blind tasting concept,” but I really thought we’d see more actual cooking and looked forward to banter between Tony and Nigella. Oh well,one more week . . .

  5. catsworking says:

    Adele, so Lauren DID say something about being a virgin. My attention wandered at that point and I only caught part of it. Yup, you’re right. It was a fatal confession.

    Now, if she’d revealed she’d spent time living in a lean-to next to a landfill and had an involuntary dearth of male companionship while she got her life back on track (which will be forever known as “playing the Diane card”), she might have had a chance.

    But after all the dissing of desserts, to kick off Jeff in favor of Diane was the male judges’ patent admission that Nigella was the only one among them who could go into the finale without a player and not pout through the whole episode. And for Tony to be rendered moot was unthinkable.

    It will be interesting to see what they do with Nigella. Make her “guest judge” for the initial challenge? Have her just watch the proceedings sprawled on her couch in a negligee?

    Now that the whole thing has almost played out, I’m surprised nobody (particularly Tony) thought it through better. It was always possible for any judge to be wiped out with a few weeks to go (unless the judging was rigged). And mentoring WITH blind-tasting was utterly nonsensical.

    I’d like to see a show where they turn the tables and have a bunch of hot-shot celebrity chefs cook for judges who are ordinary people with no culinary axe to grind. And then watch the ensuing hilarity as the judges spit perfectly prepared offal into their napkins, rave over chocolate souffles, and send home the superstar who dares to smear their plate with pureed peas and call it decorative.

  6. Chinagirl says:

    Karen agree with your comments, sorry I posted my thoughts under the previouse blog. Trisha agree with everything you said. Read the interview you linked, vomit worthy, these two (AB and his wife) are now getting laughable!! ABC and the judges are an insult to every person who walks upright!!! No second season if there is justice in this world. Diane over Jeff proves the show is rigged and no “blind Tasteing”

  7. catsworking says:

    Chinagirl, no problems. A few comments about this week’s show were posted before I got to put my latest one up.

    As much as we have been complaining about the show, if Bourdain had to come back for the finale with no cook, it would have been worse. Now it’s down to the 3 male judges, although Ludo has the deck stacked in his favor and a 50% chance to win.

    Can’t say that I’m rooting for Diane because I don’t like her, but I’d rather see ANYBODY other than Ludo’s pair win. That dirtbag has poisoned them for me.

    If ABC renews this travesty and cancels The Neighbors, ABC will be dead to me from here forward.

  8. Chinagirl says:

    Karen, the entire show was rigged. Yes Ludo is married and with a child. His wife and child were introduced on an episode of NR. I’m thinking Gregg will win!! Ludo will be even more anoying if that happens.

  9. Chinagirl says:

    I agree, I don’t like Diane either but oh god, do you think Sara could win?????????? Ludo is not imnpressed with Gregg, so since the show is a fake in my eyes, couled she win???

  10. Trishia says:

    I think that girl, name escapes me, on Nigella’s team set a record for most number of times in one show she mentioned being a virgin. We get it, who cares. Can Ludo have any more earrings?? Bourdain looked ridic with his thankfully now-chucked earring and thumb rings; the huge diamond in one ear and apparently 3+ piercings in the other on Ludo make him look like a French rent boy.

  11. adele says:

    Karen, I love the idea of having celebrity chefs cook for average folks. That’s probably the one cooking competition idea that’s never been tried.

  12. Trishia says:

    Forgot to add it sunk to a series-low in the ratings this week. Happy dance. Will be interesting if the finale boosts the numbers.


  13. Chinagirl says:

    Yes Trishia I went to a TV Guide website and it showed the ratings for each episode and “The Taste” ratings went down each week. Karen love your idea too. Can you pitch it to ABC, it would be well worth the watch.
    On another note does anyone read the tweets from the judges, god Nigella’s tweets are silly, am getting a different view of this women. I think she has lost her mind being with AB and Ludo. Get a grip girl, you are acting like a silly school girl!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Zappa's Mom says:

    AB ate deep-fried Oreos.Hypocrite.

  15. catsworking says:

    Pitch my idea to ABC? Hell, I should pitch it to Bourdain himself. He’s a producer now. The match-up I would like to see is Tony cooking for Marilyn Hagerty. Could his skills possibly rise to the standards of the Grand Forks Olive Garden? It seems doubtful. But it would be fun to watch him try to impress her.

    It would be so satisfying to watch unfoodies clue professional chefs in on what most eaters on planet Earth DON’T consider haute cuisine.

    Trishia, thanks for the ratings. I am upset about Smash. I love that show, although this week I was so flummoxed by The Taste I went to bed with a book and completely forgot Smash was on next.

    “French rent boy.” Love it! I’ve never heard that expression. Ludo is a younger, Frencher Bourdain. But I hate him as much as Padma on Top Chef, and that’s saying something.

    Chinagirl, I do skim through all the Taste-related tweets. Have to say they are doing yeomen’s work trying to make it sound like fun. When it’s all over and isn’t renewed, I’m hoping for the truth to come out. I’m sure Bourdain will try to spare the contestants’ feelings, but he CAN’T really believe it was good TV.

    I predict Gregg or Jeff will win. Males have dominated so far, and it will continue.

    Funny, I don’t remember seeing Ludo on NR. But I did recently realize that 2 of the guest judges (from Montreal or Brooklyn?) were also on NR. Unless there’s something compelling for me about the chef (like Emeril reminds me of New England, or Ripert’s good looks and charm), that whole “celebrity” thing just doesn’t stick and I forget them as soon as I stop looking at them.

  16. Chinagirl says:

    The reason I remember it is because I thought Ludo was so uncharacteristicly calm, could be that he was having lunch with AB at his mother’s house and he (Ludo) was educating AB on French cheese!!! lol

  17. catsworking says:

    ZM, just imagine one of the cooks on The Taste serving up a deep-fried Oreo. I bet only Diane could get away with that.

    Paul from Ludo’s team who got sent home this week actually tried to serve fried butter, but it didn’t work and he quickly had to come up with something else. It would have been fun to watch Ludo burn his mouth on scorching-hot butter, though.

  18. adele says:

    Karen, if you have time, re-watch the Burgundy NR episode. It was in my top 20 since I’ve driven through Burgundy (and tasted enough wine that I shouldn’t have been driving) and loved it. Ludo is very different on that show; he’s from there,and he apprenticed with one of the greatest cooks in France. I grew to like him on NR.

    And I still don’t hate him as much as Malarkey on The Taste; I guess I tolerate assholian-ness better than I tolerate bland, and tattoos and piercings better than I tolerate rolled up pants and bowties.

    BTW, aren’t you seeing AB soon? I’m seeing him and Ripert in May. it will be interesting to see what they say about The Taste.

  19. Trishia says:

    I too prefer Ludo over Malarkey because at least Ludo has some talent. Malarkey basically has the perfect name. Ludo did seem normal on the Burgandy NR episode, we even got to meet his mama.

    OK hold onto your spanx ladies. And whatever you do, don’t eat before reading the links below. Apparently AB is now in the (I’m vomiting) sex/dating advice column biz, having just written this for Cosmo (Cosmo mag is still in print? Who knew). It’s all about what foods he finds sexy and how, if your date isn’t willing to eat everything, she’s clearly gonna be lousy in the sack. (Another back-handed slap at vegetarians and/or normal women who don’t want to eat pig rectum).


    And for added hilarity, see this Gawker piece about the Cosmo column. http://gawker.com/5989282/the-time-that-anthony-bourdain-wrote-a-sex-column-for-cosmo

    My fave parts are when she calls AB a ‘tanned leather belt’ (bwaaaahaha!) and some of the comments from readers at the bottom, who appear to agree with us on the Taste. My fave is “He is dead to me after doing The Taste.”

  20. catsworking says:

    Trishia, thanks for the link to his article. I had seen the Gawker piece earlier today and found the comments after it the best part. It would seem our boy has finally jumped the shark with The Taste. Or, to put it another way, I don’t think he’s winning himself new legions of fans.

    And I think he was shoveling so much bullshit in that Cosmo piece, he must have worn waders when he wrote it. Yeah, some guy goes on a date and the woman orders a filet mignon followed by a big honking steak and he finds it charming. On what planet?

    Joke’s going to be on him as Ottavia ages if her Italian genes ever kick in (not that I would ever wish that on her). She’ll blow up like a blimp overnight and watching her stuff a 6-lb. lobster in her maw won’t be so sexy.

    I’m all for trying new foods, but if I went out with a man who was obviously trying to impress by ordering something weird (which just about anyone but Bourdain would seem), I’d be disgusted. Ditto if he smoked, was middle-aged and covered with tats, and wore an earring (lucky for him, Ottavia wasn’t so picky). He wouldn’t have to dread lousy sex. There wouldn’t be any.

    And didn’t the judges make some crack this week about garlic NOT being “seductive” because of the breath thing? In fact, I think Tony said it. But in Cosmo he’s OK with sucking curry off your tonsils? Puleez.

    OK, you guys have convinced me. I have all of NR except “Making of Kerala,” so this weekend I’ll watch Burgundy again to see Ludo NOT acting like an asshole. Personally, I don’t believe he can pull it off.

    Malarkey has made no impression on me whatsoever, except that I noticed his dorky bowtie. When he speaks, I’m like a Charlie Brown character. All I hear is, “Wah, wah, wah, wah.”

    Adele, Bourdain comes to Richmond April 23.

  21. Zappa's Mom says:

    Hey Adele,I’m betting that AB says nothing about “The Taste” during his appearance with Eric Ripert.He’s probably embarrassed(rightly so)

  22. Chinagirl says:

    Trishia, great links, thanks. Just got back from dinner and it was hard to keep it down while reading. The comments were great in the Gawker piece. He talks out of both sides of his mouth. In the Cosmo article he said he was a type A and I think his wife is also a type A. They must spend a lot of time trying to be in control of each other Karen you are so right, eating 6lbs of lobster is not atractive anywhere.

  23. Trishia says:

    LOL Karen. Good catch on the garlic breath – another example of Bourdain saying whatever, whenever and often totally contradicting himself.

    I honestly don’t understand how Ottavia, unless her stomach is abnormally stretched or she’s skipping meals, can eat 2 steaks in one meal plus other foods. I’ve seen 300 lb men do this, but a small woman? And apparently she was doing this before she started with MMA. Not to mention what she’s doing to her health, but hey what do I care if she destroys her liver and kidneys lol. However, I agree with you that no normal man would find that attracitve – willing to try new things, yes, but shoveling in food like you haven’t eaten in 2 weeks, not so much, and if he’s paying, I’m sure he’d think you were a gold digger ordering 2 steaks.

    AB definitely looks better now than he did in younger years (circa that Gawker photo when he weighed about 80 lbs), but I still wouldn’t call him ‘hot’. He’s reasonably attractive until his true colors come out and he starts spewing crap like that Cosmo piece. Personally I wouldn’t want to add to his growing coffers by buying a ticket to one of his shows. What I would buy a ticket to is Woody Harrelson kicking the crap out of him. I figure it would take all of 4 minutes.

    Does Ottavia still read this blog? lol

  24. catsworking says:

    Trishia, I don’t know if Ottavia is still plugged in here, but possibly so. She watches Tony’s back for sure, and she knows I’m still sort of keeping an eye on him.

    Good point about women who eat like pigs on dates being taken for gold-diggers. How true!

    Ottavia tweets about seeing a nutritionist, and I think she has backed off from the 100% protein she was originally doing, but she’s still low-carb. As long as she’s wrestling like a maniac, she’ll keep the muscles, although there will be a point when the collagen starts to wane and she starts looking stringy. She’s posted pictures of her abs and they’re amazing. Not an ounce of belly fat.

    Last night I rewatched the Burgundy NR and you guys were totally right. That episode utterly charmed me (although I forgot it). Ludo was captivatingly cute. Even had I remembered, I NEVER would have connected the dots and realized that this was the same man. How did he turn in to such a snarling prick on The Taste?

    When I first discovered Bourdain, I was flipping channels and here was this lanky, gray-haired smoker wandering through some beautiful exotic place, shooting his mouth off. I thought he was attractive (still do, although he’s getting craggier by the minute), but it wasn’t until I realized he also wrote and I read A Cook’s Tour that I was hooked. For me, it’s always been more about Tony the writer than Tony the traveler or the ex-chef or the eater.

    Funny thing is, if I had met him in real life (as an ordinary person, not famous), smoking, tats, earring, and he’d spouted about vegans, fat people, and what he finds sexy in women (which you’ll notice dovetails his wife’s behavior–he’s no fool), I probably would have laughed with him and admired his audacity, but thought, “What a snooty asshole.”

    But I HAVE met him in real life — 3 times — and he’s always been nothing but charming and unassuming. So I have to believe most of the crap he dishes out is just playing to the crowd. And since he’s expected to be an unfinite source of sharp opinion, it’s inevitable he’s going to cross his wires sometimes, blurting out whatever he’s thinking at the moment.

    I boils down to a question of, What does Tony REALLY believe? I think we know on the important stuff. It’s the fluff topics that trip him up.

  25. trishia says:

    I don’t recall if I read KC first or saw him on TV first – I think I saw him on TV flipping and didn’t put the 2 together. I just knew travel channel had this lanky, sulking, always with a bad expression on his face travel host and I was totally turned off – I found him unattractive and a jerk, like since when does smirking and looking miserable equal good TV. I also thought he was gay lolol, and normally I love gay men, but he just seemed, I dont know – odd.

    Then I read KC, loved it, and from that started watching NR regularly and liked him more, though for me it’s more about the show and the way it was shot – it was always pretty to look at and I felt like I’d really been to those locales. It was such a cut above every other travel show. I have no doubt he’s not a snarky jerk in person, just like Chevy Chase and Steve Martin, from what I’ve read, are the opposite of jovial in person – they’re kind of stand-offish and boring. So I’m not really sure if I’m a ‘fan’ of AB or if I more “hate watch” his stuff.

    I don’t really care what he believes, except on the issue of healthy eating. With most Americans obese and unhealthy and the environment going to shit, it’s horribly irresponsible for him or anyone to knock vegetarians with insane hezbolah comparisons. But then he is an ex junkie who would still be smoking if he didnt have a child, so there you go.

    OH I forgot to mention I finally caught his Archer episode. Wow. I found it boring, unentertaining and thoroughly NOT funny. And this is coming from someone who LOVES south park and generally likes family guy. If all the epis are like this one….yikes. It was like 8th graders wrote the dialogue.

  26. catsworking says:

    Trishia, I’m a real sucker for a good quip, and Bourdain’s full of them. I also enjoy Steve Martin’s tweets, but I’ve also heard he’s not a barrel of fun in person.

    I get what you’re saying about Archer. There seems to be this whole new younger generation of “comedy” that those past a certain age don’t find funny in the least. I’ve been taken in plenty of times lately by movies sold as comedies that are anything but. And you see it in some comic strips. I think they’re mistaking irony for humor. Yes, sometimes irony is funny, but it’s usually more of a shake-your-head-and-mutter-“Whatever” reaction.

    On the other hand, I do enjoy the broad, biting satire of The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy.

    Bourdain’s graphic novel, Get Jiro!, was humorous in the ironic vein, and some readers got it and loved it. I was meh.

  27. Trishia says:

    Oh lord – Bourdain sums up The Taste:

    The only good part of this piece is when he says ‘men suck’. If anything having a daughter has made him even less of a misogynist, if he ever was one, so there’s that at least.

    Has anyone noticed how his writing style is a paragraph-long sentence followed by 2 or 3 words – I like it, it’s just that you don’t encounter that often. Here’s my attempt at summing up the Taste by channeling AB’s prose method:

    At long last, after weeks upon weeks of watching sweaty, teary pros and amateurs alike yell, cry, drop stuff, accidentally slice large chunks of flesh from their thumbs and flurry around a faux tv-set kitchen in a blur of subliminal food flashes, I am left with that same empty feeling I have when ordering an expensive appetizer that turns out to be 2 pieces of ravioli. Hungry. In a word – okay three – it sucked ass. I expected more from Bourdain. I probably shouldn’t have.

    Yes, I realize that it’s nearly impossible for any celebrity to turn down money no matter how cheesy or embarrassing the endeavor – or in AB’s case – no matter how much a younger, cooler version of himself lambasted the shenannigans he now shamelessly engages in as a ‘celebrity chef’. It’s depressing.

    No, I don’t expect miracles – from Bourdain or ‘reality’ competition shows. But with no food porn, no real emotion, no getting to know each contestant before they were whisked off in a flash, there was no one to root for and no reason to care. Unless you happen to be Anthony Bourdain’s accountant. May another season be as unlikely as Bourdain road tripping with Paula Deen. Actually, scratch that. For the right price, he just might. I’m glad Bourdain misses his team. I for one, do not. Not even a little.

  28. catsworking says:

    Trishia, that was absolutely BRILLIANT!! I tip my pen to you. You did a much better job than I have of summing up that whole debacle.

    I will be stunned if ABC picks it up for another season. Last night, every time someone said “Season 1,” or “You will be the first…” I chuckled. It could have been a drinking game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: