The Taste review: Nigella Lawson returns with a spoonful of flamboyance
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Tuesday 07 January 2014
With Team Nigella already whipped into a state of expectant devotion by her court appearances, her show couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment. But The Taste, which began on Channel 4 tonight, is no ordinary Nigella Lawson cookery show and no ordinary competition, either. The contestants may come from the ranks of professional chefs or enthusiastic home cooks, but all will be judged, sight unseen, on the flavour of a single spoonful.
Our Nigella was joined on the judging panel by Anthony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre, two equally prestigious cooks who are not as well-known in the UK as they are in America. Bourdain is the punk-rock New York food writer who used to send busboys out to pick up his heroin from Alphabet City back in his early 80s cheffing days, and he hasn’t lost his edge yet. Ludo Lefebvre, however, is the show’s uncontested diva and in the opening episode he stomped and sulked his way through every professional chef stereotype. “He’s French,” explained Nigella. “He’s very French...He’s very, very French”. You can say that again, Nige.
The format is new to British viewers, but The Taste’s three mentors already know each other well, having appeared in the show’s original US version (which C4 promises to screen later this year). That explains their perfectly balanced banter, with its noticeably patriotic flavour. It was evident in Nigella’s championing of British home cooking, her gentle admonishment’s of Anthony’s Americanisms (“Prawn, we call it, in this country”) and in Ludo’s pantomimed astonishment that these rosbifs can actually cook: “I’m very, very impressed to be in Britain to eat good food like this. It is such a shock for me!”
This week the judges’ internal bickering took centre stage as they competed to secure the best four cooks for their own teams, but since the knives were out, and sharpened too, the contestants also came in for a skewering. Even baby of the group, 18-year-old Dale, was not spared when he dared insult the judges tastebuds with an over-sweet tomato, pear and ginger chutney. When Dale burst into tears, Ludo and Anthony looked on in contempt, while Nigella rushed to offer maternal comfort. Likely, it was Dale’s ploy all along to end up nestled in Nigella’s bosom. And who can blame him?
Tense, flamboyant, and blessed with two more judges who both equal Nigella in charisma, it’s already obvious The Taste will be delicious – and from just this single spoonful!
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 All Blacks Aaron Cruden misses New Zealand flight after drinking session, has brilliant excuse
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': TV reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Clothes store Joy angers mental health campaigners with Twitter exchange on bipolar disorders
- 5 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Downton Abbey series 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Downton Abbey series 5, episode 1, ITV, review: There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
New Tricks: Dennis Waterman to leave drama after a decade of crime-solving
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'