Hooked on “The Taste” in Season 2

By Karen

The Taste has seen 4 weeks of actual competition, and I’m hooked. Bourdain, you magnificent bastard. I tried to walk away, but you pulled me back in.

It was a golden TV moment last week when Jacquelyn, that pink-haired POS from Nigella’s team, delivered her coup de grâce by walking off the set — and the show — leaving Nigella teamless. Nice way to repay Nigella for eliminating the clearly more competent Crystal so Jacquelyn could live to cook messily another day.

So now Nigella’s reduced to eye candy. Wasn’t her team also first to wipe out last season?

That’s my one peeve: does Nigella always have to look like Morticia Addams in jewel tones — long-sleeved, low-cut, and tight? It’s inappropriate for cooking and made her attempts to whip her kooky crew into shape seem even more futile than they were.

Even that crazy Sophia Vergara wannabe who was eliminated the first week accused Nigella of doing it out of spite because “Sophia” wore higher heels. I wouldn’t be surprised, after seeing Nigella draped across the backstage sofa as if she’s waiting for someone to peel her a grape, while the men all sit up like adults.

Another must-see moment was when Tony out-maneuvered Ludo with a well-timed can of Spam to win a team challenge. But then Tony had to screw up by using pasta to “go green.” I like the increased focus on mentoring strategies.

You had to cheer when that annoying home cook/blogger Audrey got eliminated after her teammates accused her of not cooking “up to their level.” At least it spared us any more of her delusions of blogging fame.

Ludo’s natural dickishness is being used to best advantage to heighten the drama between him and Bourdain. And Marcus Samuelsson is playing the wildcard extremely well.

And who could forget the sad little cross-team romance between Ludo’s Cassandra and Tony’s Lee? Ludo couldn’t resist flirting with Cassandra (who returned the favor). But in the end, Ludo’s passionate defense of her tasteless falafel couldn’t save her, so now Lee cooks in Cassandra’s memory.

I think my favorite is Ludo’s Marina. You gotta love a woman who sticks to her Asian ways right in Ludo’s face, puréeing pork and boiling beef with mad abandon, and it works. After her, I’m betting on Bourdain’s Lee to place, and his Shellie to show.

All in all, the loosened format does seem to allow Bourdain’s diabolical side to shine, and we know that’s always a good thing.


The Bourdains have new digs, a $3M+ double condo in New York City off Fifth Avenue. For that kind of money, they could have bought the governor’s mansion in Virginia. The Real eStalker published some information about it.

Here’s how the place was configured by a former owner. The bedrooms’ layout is pretty strange, and the galley kitchen is tiny. But it looks like they’ve got lots of room for MMA thrown-downs.

And here’s the actual listing. Tony should prepare himself for lots of mail, now that his address is splashed all over the Net.

Last week, Bourdain turned up on The View, but who I’d really like to see on the sofa is Ottavia, perhaps demonstrating a choke hold on Barbara Walters.

Andy Greenwald at Grantland did an entertaining hour-long audio interview with Bourdain recently that I recommend.

Tony and Ottavia gave a great joint interview to SB nation, where Tony confirmed he’s really embracing jiu-jitsu, and also that’s he’s working on a prequel to his graphic novel, Get Jiro!

I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of Bourdain’s “bus stops,” as he likes to call his various endeavors, but Ottavia never fails to add her special flair when she’s included. She’s becoming quite a personality in her own right.

PS: Congratulations to Bourdain and his fellow producers. The Producers Guild recently gave Parts Unknown the Outstanding Producers Award.

7 Responses to Hooked on “The Taste” in Season 2

  1. dellachiara says:

    Okay, now I may have to check out The Taste again… I only watched one episode the first season (well, actually less than the whole episode!) and found it rather awful. I’m glad they seem to have tweaked it.

    Thanks for the great links to other articles and interviews. You’re my go-to when it comes to getting info on AB! 🙂

  2. catsworking says:

    Aw, dellachiara, how nice. I’ve slacked off on AB reporting because big national sites are getting all the scoops and interviews with him these days. But I was following him long before they were, I’ve read all his books and seen every show (except for 1 episode of Cook’s Tour that should surface within the next few months) and spent hundreds of hours reading every mention online over the years, so I definitely know when he covers new ground that’s worth noting. After all these years, it’s a hobby! 😉

    The tweaks to The Taste have been fairly subtle, but there’s definitely greater emphasis on people this year, the cooking, and the strategy. The weakest link continues to be cramming everything onto one spoonful, but I’m enjoying seeing more interaction between the judges and between the judges and cooks.

  3. MorganLF says:

    I too am enjoying the Taste this year. I prefer the new format and I really like Marcus Samuelsson. I’ve been following him for years. I love his food and his story is very interesting Ethiopian adopted as a child by a Swedish couple and raised in Sweden. He is known for upscale urban and Scandinavian.

    As for Tony’s new digs, much as that amount of money is …it’s nowhere near the top of the market. Howard Stern’s penthouse is valued at over $15 million!!!! That’s just so rude!!

  4. MorganLF says:

    PS: I luuve Bourdain In prime time/mainstream telly….Tony don’t forget who love ya when….

  5. catsworking says:

    Well, I’m bummed. Last night Tony had to kick off Shellie. It was one of those moments that seemed manufactured for TV. It looked like Tony and Nigella were scoring points fighting for Shellie’s creativity over the androgynous one’s repertoire of safe dishes. Then Ludo says something about gold stars, and cut to Shellie getting the boot. WTF? It’s all about the gold stars now?

    I never did quite get what Marina’s dish was. She was squirting egg yokes into hot water like she was making egg drop soup. Then I guess she fished them out and doused them in sugar?

    And after watching House Hunters International and seeing that a million bucks will buy you essentially a walk-in closet in Paris, I’m not surprised at what $3 mil will get you in NYC. That tiny kitchen is ridiculous. MY kitchen is bigger; and it’s eat-in. I can seat 6 in a pinch.

    His property taxes alone are a regular person’s princely house payment. I find it vicariously gratifying that he’s doing so well after all our devoted years of rooting for him.

  6. adele says:

    I’ve been having trouble with my router, so my lap top is confined to my “office,” which has been so cold that I haven’t felt like sitting back here, and trying to type on the iPhone is a pain. Chi-beria finally seems to be on a warming trend.

    I like The Taste way better this year, too, and find Marcus to be a fine addition. He’s a really talented guy and seems to take his mentoring role seriously. And the greater emphasis on food prep is a vast improvement.

    I love Nigella and actually make a few of her recipes but after watching her teams flame out quickly two seasons running, I have to question her ability to select and teach contestants, Interestingly, though, I read and article about The Taste Great Britain, and at the time, her team was leading in wins– and Tony & Ludo are in that show.

    I can’t imagine that the Bourdains aren’t going to update that kitchen, although Tony, being accustomed to small crowded restaurant kitchens, may not mind. $3mil would by at least twice as much in Chicago, but there’s always Paris. I’m shocked by how little a few million buys.

  7. catsworking says:

    Adele, sorry it took me so long to get back to you on this. I didn’t get notified I had comments.

    I wonder if the British cooks Nigella cooks are more on her wavelength? She really banged heads with her picks this season here. Remember the first one eliminated, that Sophia Vergara wannabe who claimed Nigella couldn’t stand her having higher heels than Nigella? And that Jacquelyn bitch must have REALLY hated to her to have walked off the set like that, leaving Nigella to take the heat alone if Pink-Hair’s soup lost the challenge.

    On the other hand, if she’s leading in the Brit version, it could be a sign that politics is at work. Nigella has taken such a beating in the press over there, Bourdain and Ludo may be throwing things her way. Call me cynical, but I don’t believe for a moment that ANY of those shows is 100% on the up and up.

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