Waiting for the season finale of Anthony Bourdain’s cooking competition, The Taste to begin, I caught the first hour of the season premiere of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen on Fox.
Talk about contrasts. Ramsay had 20 contestants fly in to LAX, then immediately flew them to Vegas, where the winners of the first competition (the women’s team), held before a live audience of 2,500, were rewarded with meeting Celine Dion and seeing her show, while the men rode a bus through the desert back to Los Angeles.
Ramsay’s a jerk, but he makes The Taste seem quaintly low-budget.
But back to The Taste. Tony’s buddy and (Khristianne’s all-time idol), Chef José Andres, was guest judge.
Four contestants (and judges) were left: Diane (Tony), Sarah and Gregg (Ludo), and Khristianne (Malarkey). Nigella, having lost her entire team, became a roving mentor. The first competition required preparation of 3 different spoonfuls each, and would end in elimination of one cook.
Ludo devoted most of his mentoring to Sarah, tossing little snipes at Gregg. Remember, Gregg had been Ludo’s favorite spoon 3 weeks straight.
All I can say is, with friends like Ludo…
Tony gave Diane the benefit of his insight into Andres’ tastes, and agonized when it looked like Diane might be eliminated because Tony made her put tomato caviar on a prawn, which “stole” the prawn’s flavor, according to Andres.
Andres’ judging stood up to the pettiest kvetching you’ve ever heard on Top Chef. He complained of not enough “acid” on many spoons, and that a date Sarah served was “too big” for him to taste properly.
Gregg smelled victory when Andres pronounced his prawn perfectly cooked, and was stunned to be eliminated, but then he uttered the best put-down of the series…
“I’d rather lose doing it myself, than win having my hand held.”
Ludo pretended to be shocked, SHOCKED, that Gregg was gone, confirming my earlier diagnosis of Ludo’s schizophrenia.
So, Khristianne, Sarah, and Diane were charged again with creating 3 spoonfuls apiece.
Diane, superb sportswoman that she is, said, “I sure as heck don’t want to lose to a home cook.” (meaning Sarah)
And Tony said that viewers should want Diane to win “because she wants it so badly.”
In your dreams, Bourdain. In her TV debut, she wants us to think she’s a bitch. Bitches should never triumph.
As the final moments approached, I realized I didn’t give a rat’s ass who won.
Sarah cooked for Ludo’s sweet spot, and everyone declared all 3 of her spoons simple, yet well-executed.
So she came in third.
I don’t remember Diane’s spoons, but the comments weren’t all rosy, and she ended up “close, but no cigar.”
Khristianne, from the judges’ comments, thought she only had one good spoon out of 3. So she WON.
The actual judging was a blur, and I’m thinking it was deliberate to spare some judge from looking like an ass. But after 8 weeks of sitting through this train-wreck, I call a foul because viewers deserved to see which judges picked the winner.
Confetti fell as Khristianne received her trophy of 2 huge spoons on a pedestal. Tony congratulated Diane on winning — nothing.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Bourdain shared some final thoughts with Entertainment Weekly.