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The Taste

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The first episode of this new series was last night. The format of this show in 2 Preliminary Round episodes (and beyond) is a copy of how The Voice does it. A mix of home cooks and professionals was invited to come and prepare a taste of their their food on a one-bite spoon (quite a bit larger than a tablespoon). Each of 4 judges then votes yes or no after tasting it. The contestant then confronts the jury, talks and bit and hers what their votes were. They need at least one yes vote to stay alive. If they get 4 Nos they are out. Most contestants did get 4 Nos. Each judge verbally rationalized their decisions.

The judges are a distinguished group:
Anthony Bourdain - TV celebrity, world traveler and former chef
Brain Malarkey - chef noted for his seafood
Nigella Lawson - English food writer, journalist and broadcaster
Ludo Ludovic - noteworthy chef

Here are the contestants going though to the first regular episode in 2 weeks (after another Preliminary Round episode next week):

Anthony's Kitchen: Ninamarie Bojekian, 28, caterer, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey; Diane DiMeo, 45, chef consultant, Astoria, New York; Mia Morgenstern, 26, yoga instructor, San Francisco, California; TBA

Nigella's Kitchen: Renatta Lindsey, 32, program monitor, Houston, Texas; Lauren Scott, 23, administrative assistant, Laurel, Mississipi; TBA; TBA

Ludo's Kitchen: Shawn Davis, 43, executive chef, Los Angeles, California; Sarah Schiear, 27, food blogger, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Paul; TBA

Brian's Kitchen: Micah Kasman, 31, design director, San Francisco, California; Khristianne Uy, 30, private chef, West Hollywood, California; TBA; TBA

So happy Nigella Lawson is on this. :hearts:

Part 2 of the Preliminary round was completed with the selection of 2 chefs/cooks by Ludo Ludovic, 2 by Nigella Lawson, 2 by Brian Malarkey and 1 by Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain was very complimentary to all the competitors, but he only picked the last one. Brian went after 3 chefs/cooks for his team and all 3 elected to go with Ludo, which also picked them, for various reasons.

One interesting tidbit is that it was confirmed that the Yes/No buttons in front of the competitors are purely ornamental. The decisions have been made on taste alone before the competitor is brought out. Next week 's episode will be an elimination within each of the teams.

Here are the additions each team director made:
Anthony Bourdain - Uno Immanivong, 35, Mortgage Consultant, Dallas, TX

Nigella Lawson - Huda Mu'min, 31, Caterer, Washington, DC
                             Erika Monroe Williams, 42, Broadcaster, Paradise Valley, AZ

Brian Malarkey – Micah Kasman, 31 Design Director, San Francisco, CA
                             Khristianne Uy, 30, Private Chef, West Hollywood, CA
Ludo Ludovic -    PaulCaravelli, 30, Executive Chef, Libertyville, IL
                             Sarah Shiear,  27, Food Blogger, Fort Lauderdale, FL      

The first challenge had the theme of Comfort Food.  The 4 mentors worked with their teams in the Team Taste Test.  Each member of the team created one spoon based on the theme, and then each mentor selected one spoon representing the team to put forward for judging by the guest judge.

The guest judge this week was Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef and owner of Prune in New York City. Gabrielle selected one winner out of the four competing spoons in the Team Taste Test; the winning chef gained immunity in the Blind Taste Test, the second part of this week’s challenge.

The four spoons that were selected to compete belonged to: Ninamarie from Team Anthony, Lauren from Team Nigella, Sarah from Team Ludo, and Jeff from Team Malarkey. Gabrielle selected Lauren’s Chicken Stew as the winning dish of the Team Taste Test. Lauren won immunity, and Gabrielle joined Nigella’s winning kitchen to advise the chefs on their dishes for the Blind Taste Test to assist that team of chefs as they prepared for the Blind Taste Test for the mentors. In the Blind Taste Test, the mentors tasted each of the dishes without knowing who prepared the dish or what they are tasting. Each mentor then selected their best taste, followed by their worst taste to determine which chefs will be sent home this week.

The Blind Taste Test

The mentors sent home Micah from Team Malarkey and Renatta from Team Nigella.

The mentors awarded gold stars to the following recipes:

Khristianne from Team Malarkey: Uni Seafood Chowder

Sarah from Team Ludo: Bourbon BBQ Shrimp and Grits

Diane from Team Anthony: BiBimBap

It looks like the non-culinary competitors are getting weeded out by this process. There are only 5 of them (Lauren, Uno, Mia, Erika, Sarah) left.

Chef David Kinch and sommelier Andre Mack appeared as guest judges to determine the winner of the Team Taste Test, and then to assist the chefs of the winning team with their dishes for the Blind Taste Test judged by the four mentors.

The Team Taste Test

The four spoons that were selected to compete in The Team Taste Test belonged to: Uno from Team Anthony(Thai Beet Salad), Erika from Team Nigella (lamb w/ goat cheese), Gregg from Team Ludo (ribs), and Adam from Team Malarkey (Squab w/ wine reduction).

David and Andre selected Gregg’s Five Spice Short Ribs as the winning dish of the Team Taste Test. Gregg won immunity, and David and Andre joined Ludo’s winning kitchen to advise the chefs on their dishes for the Blind Taste Test.

The Blind Taste Test

4 wines were available for pairing with an appropriate dish:

Italian Barolo
California Chardonnnay
French Cotes de Rhone
German Riesling

The mentors sent home Sean from Team Ludo and Erika from Team Nigella. Huda and Sarah survived. Anthony Bourdain gloated that none of his team had been touched so far.

The mentors awarded gold stars to the following chef’s recipes:

Khristianne from Team Malarkey: Duck Two Ways (Khristianne earned two stars -- one from Ludo and one from Malarkey)

Ninamarie from Team Anthony: Lemon Cream Pork Shoulder (Ninamarie earned two stars -- one from Anthony and one from Nigella)


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