Last Thursday was the semi-finale on “The Taste”, one of mine and Duane’s favorite food competition shows. Last season I did a pretty good job of keeping up with the show and writing about each episode. This season I can’t say the same. The way last season ended I wasn’t sure whether there would be a season two or not, I was so happy when a friend told me otherwise. In case you are new to the show the premise is: There are four chef celebrity judges (Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Marcus Samuelsson) who choose a team consisting of four members. Each episode has two challenges, a team challenge where each team would present one dish that would be served to the guest judge, and a solo challenge where the mentors blind taste test the dishes.
In the team challenge all contestants make a dish that follows a specific theme (this week it is Good With Beer). The teams then choose which dish would best represent their team to go up against the others for the guest judge to taste. The guest judge chooses his or her favorite dish and that team receives the guest judges help during the solo round. While the team that served the worst dish would have a team member eliminated, chosen by their mentor. During the solo challenge the contestants continue with the theme and to prepare a dish that will be blind taste tested by the four mentors. The mentors then choose their favorite dish and their worst dish, but they have no idea who prepared what. The best receive gold stars, while the worst receive red stars and face elimination.
With two days before the season finale, I decided to write a little recap of season 2. This season of The Taste they switched some things up. For one, the episodes are longer, and I love that. Second, two contestants were eliminated after the solo challenge. This season the first elimination happens after the team challenge, with the mentor being the one who chooses which team member from his or her team that leaves. The second elimination round happens at the end of the solo challenge. In the end after each episode two contestants are eliminated. I have to say, I like that change as well.
So on to the show! This was a great season, and I didn’t think as predictable as last year. ( I felt like I knew who was going to win from the first episode.) There were a few laughs each episode ; i.e Lee and Cassandras “relationship”, team Hot Mess (Poor Nigella), dragon lady and her 8 pressure cookers, and Audrey and “her fans” just to name a few.
Going into the semi-finale the theme is “Good with Beer” and Jonathon Waxman is the guest judge for the team challenge. Team challenge being make a dish that goes well with beer. Ludo has 3 team members left; Jeff, Marina (aka Dragon Lady), and Louise who is a food photographer. Marcus is entering this round with 2 contestants on his team; Shehu (who you may remember from Chopped) and Sarah. I found Marcus’ team kind of boring and found no real connection with any of the team mates. Bourdain, who is left with only Lee was clueless in this challenge. I wish Bourdain kept Shellie last week, she was one of my favorites. And just like last year, Nigella (aka team hot mess) has an empty kitchen. Lee, Marina, and Sarah’s dishes were chosen for Waxman to taste. His favorite dish was Marina’s and Ludo’s team won the team challenge and received Waxman’s help in the solo challenge. His worst dish belonged to Sarah from Marcus’ team. Marcus then had to decide which one of his team members he was going to send home, he chose Shehu. Bourdain had promised Lee that if he made it into the next round he would get him floor seats to the Knicks game. Lucky Lee.
For the solo challenge the contestants were given an extra hour to prepare their dish, which followed the same theme as the team challenge. The dish not only needed to pair well with beer but it also had to be cooked with beer as well. Half way through their 2 hour time limit, the judges added another component to the challenge; they had to make something else that was complimentary to what they were already preparing. Lee who I guess wasn’t sure what complimentary meant yelled some obscenities in Jeff’s direction when he (Jeff) began to mock him. The guest judge did not find it funny while I found it quite comical. I’m still wondering what they bleeped out.
When the two hours were up, the judges tasted each contestants dish and were not blown away by any of them. Nigella and Marcus both chose Lee as their worst dish. Lee made a sloppy joe with avocado fries. As quoted by Bourdain, “You’re giving me a sloppy joe…really a sloppy joe.” My question is, if you are in a contest trying to wow these amazing chefs, why would you make a sloppy joe? The other worst dishes belonged to Marina (Bourdain’s worst) and Sarah (Ludo’s worst). On the other side of the spectrum; Marcus, Anthony, and Nigella all chose Jeff as their favorite dish. Jeff cooked a braised pulled pork that he cooked in a pressure cooker and cheddar biscuits. The last gold star which was given by Ludo went to Lee. Which I found crazy…and Ludo felt crazy when he found out he chose Lee…again. I guess Ludo just likes sloppy joes.
When it was all said and done, the judges ultimately decided on sending Sarah home (makes sense, how can you UNDER cook potatoes in 2 hours….just saying), making the finale a Ludo vs Anthony show down. The contestants competing this week are Jeff, Louise, Marina, and Lee. My prediction, I think Jeff will win; however I would really like to see Louise win, I always like to root for the under dog. Duane and I are very excited to see who the next winner of “The Taste” will be, don’t miss it Thursday on ABC!
Who are you rooting for?
Want a recap of last seasons finale? Check out http://www.muffinsandmeat.com/2013/03/23/the-taste-season-finale/