Spooning with Nigella: a series of blogs on Channel 4's 'The Taste' coming soon from Food Urchin

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th January 2014

Imagine taking all your hopes, dreams and ambitions and piling it all up on a spoon, albeit a very large Chinese soup type spoon. Imagine then watching the backs of three rather famous people (well two in the UK) as they take your spoon and devour the contents in one fell swoop, like lizards consuming prey. Through a bulletproof window, you watch them cogitate, gesticulate and burp and then you are summoned into the room for the verdict. Imagine staring into three pairs of eyes. One pair beautiful and brown; one pair framed by doleful bags; one pair squinty. Imagine the beat of your heart pulsing, thundering through your chest as these eyes watch you and scrutinise. Imagine the agony as one by one; they reveal a red card labelled ‘No’. Your spoon, weighed down with all the expectation in the world, well, it just wasn’t good enough. It was a rubbish spoon and it’s enough to make you break down and cry. In a very brief nutshell, this is what The Taste, a new competitive cookery show that screened last night on Channel 4, is all about. Rather than go through the flimflam of watching professional chefs and ‘home cooks’ go through their paces in the kitchen a la MasterChef, the premise of this series is firmly fixed on the end result, a single spoonful of food that should turn the judges’ heads purely on flavour. The judges to impress are cupcake warrior Nigella Lawson, New Yoiker Anthony Bourdain and the indecipherable Ludo Lefebvre. Make them sing and bang, you are on their team. Make them blanch and wallop, you are out the door. As concepts go, it’s an interesting one, familiar to fans of The Voice yes but slightly different nevertheless. It certainly all looked rather sexy as the contestants paved the way, presenting their individual mouthfuls with some enticing and some very messy combinations. Combinations such as mackerel, beetroot, wasabi and samphire, alongside truffled chicken ballotine with a panko crust and mushroom sauce, all looked very lip smacking indeed. Whereas some efforts, as in the words of Ludo, really did amount to Sabotage! Yet as I watched, with each cook getting literally slammed through proceedings, I couldn’t help but feel a nagging in the back of my head. If all our attention was supposed to be on the food, why was there so much focus on the judges? Yes our trio is quite entertaining to watch, particularly the banter between the two boys (and they are boys, spitting and swearing at each other). Oyster slut Bourdain is especially refreshing with his brusque candour and wit. Ludo is slightly annoying, too bonkers and handsome for my liking in fact. And Mother Hen Nigella treads a fine line between strict madam and cooing mistress, as always. However, for a show that has set out a stall to promote uncomplicated yet delicious food, it has jumped off the blocks with far too much style over substance. I mean how much slow-motion does a food show need? Unless this is a food porn show, with lascivious spooning all over the shop. Hmm, maybe it is. To coin a phrase, hopefully over the next couple of episodes things will 'flesh out a bit' and there will be some more interaction and development regarding the 12 remaining competitors. I seriously can’t remember a single thing about any of them. So I will carry on watching for the time being. Although the whole spoon thing does continue to trouble me (I have definitely mentioned it enough). I mean how you are ever going to take the praise “I do like your spoon” seriously or without suggestion? Especially from Nigella.   Danny Kingston (Food Urchin) Danny is a food adventurer, enthusiastic allotmenteer, supper club host and writer of the entertaining and quirky epicurian blog, Food Urchin. He also writes for Great British Chefs and past credits also include writing for Delicious Magazine online and MSN Food and he is an absolute sucker for East End pie and mash (with loads of liquor and vinegar).      

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th January 2014

Spooning with Nigella: a series of blogs on Channel 4's 'The Taste' coming soon from Food Urchin