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The Great British Bake Off
Take two reality TV shows. Put them in a food processor and pulse until mashed together. Add a lingering shot of a goddess, a grating of a heated American, and a teaspoon of a French nut ball. Combine. Turn out onto a baking tray. Onto the tray, take 25 cooks of varying levels of talent. Put them all into a very hot oven and bake for 60 minutes until done. Serve on really big spoons.
This should be a recipe for perfection: an American with an ego as bloated as his vocabulary; the perfect French chef cliché; and Nigella Lawson, licking her lips seductively.
It really isn’t. But it is addictive.
You find yourself going back for more, even though it’s pretty awful. It is hardly original. The Voice has awesome spinning chairs, Bake Off has soggy bottoms. The Taste has neither. But they do have those large spoons. I need one of those for when I have a Ben and Jerry’s craving at two in the morning. I wonder if Nigella has a bunch for when she gets the munchies…
The Taste starts off with 25 cooks. As the trailer says, in dramatic trailer fashion, 25 must become 12. One by one they serve up varying concoctions for the judges. On the large spoons. Bourdain is the Nasty Judge, stating that one chef needs to ‘man the fuck up’. Yes, dear. We know you’re a man. We’ve seen your selfies. No need to pick on the little guy. Lefebvre is, as Queen Nigella purrs, ‘very, very French’. That means ‘absolute Diva with a love of cheese.’ He is so irritated by Bourdain’s very existence that you have to wonder how long it’ll be before Lefebvre shows us all just how French he is, and starts sharpening the guillotine.
But let’s be honest. Nigella Lawson is the real draw. And she is on top Food Porn form. The camera lingers over her as she takes a bite. Dammit, if the camera lingered any longer on her, The Taste would be moved to 11pm on Channel 5. She looks incredible. I’d happily watch an hour of her just sampling food, and hugging people. Yes, Mr French Cliché, carry on about how you hate figs. I’m just going to gaze adoringly at Nigella.
By the end of the first episode, each chef has their own team of four to mentor. Sorry, Bourdain. Your shitty shirtless pictures won’t help you. I’m firmly on Team Nigella. From Episode 2, each week has a theme. Comfort food was week 3, week 6 – next week’s episode – is chocolate. The aim is to create something that impresses.
If you want to watch The Taste for ideas of what to cook, I have some bad news for you. This stuff is on the gourmet scale. It’s not complicated, but it’s more for a special occasion than ‘lazy Saturday night with a film’. Nigella may have truffles – not the chocolate kind – lying around the house, but I certainly don’t. That said, it is quite impressive what people can come up with. And it’s still much more approachable than Masterchef.
One of the biggest criticisms of The Taste has been that it’s boring. You are watching people cook. You can’t taste the food. It’s hardly going to be The X Factor, where you can tell instantly if someone is good or not. It’s about the visuals, darlings. And you watch for the personalities. There are plenty of those on display. No soggy bottoms, unfortunately. Except for that kid who got cuddled by Nigella.
All in all, The Taste is a good show. It’s addictive. And there are worse ways to spend an hour than watching Nigella Lawson purring about food, with the two boobs on either side of her, trying not to kill each other.
I’m a big fan. Here’s to a second series.