It's really hard to watch this show without judging it directly against the million other food competitions on TV or against The Voice, since it has co-opted its format nearly identically, minus the annoying spinning chairs and Christina Aguilera's tacky wardrobe. It's not really a bad show in any way, but we can't help but think of the pissing contest that The Voice has become, or of all those chef vs. chef team shows on Food Network, and worry that this will quickly devolve into something more grating.
In a weird editing choice, the premiere jumped right into introducing contestants and having them serve up their one-bite meals to impress the panel, before actually taking the time to introduce the judges. Like they just presumed that anyone sitting down to watch this knows who these people are, which probably isn't the case unless you've watched a lot of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters. While we'd like to think that Anthony Bourdain is a household name, he's not exactly Emeril on the chef-recognition chart, with Nigella Lawson probably the one person most non-foodies know by sight. So waiting until well into the show to explain who these "experts" are was an odd choice.
The panel is made up of: Anthony Bourdain, who is also sort of relegated to host/intro duty, like they didn't want to pay another person; the aforementioned lovely Nigella Lawson; Ludo Lefebrve, who is known for his French cuisine; and early Top Chef contestant Brian Malarkey. They each got a bite of food from the potential contestants without knowing anything about the person cooking, then they hit a little yes or no button (which looked like painted dollar-store tap lights) under the table. They were trying to make up their dream team of four. In future episodes, they will provide coaching to their teams, then those people will compete and they will do more blind tastings of these little amuse bouches. Then the contestant will come up into an echo-y closet, not allowed to approach the bench for fear of flu germs (or something?), and then the judges will reveal their decisions. Same Voice rules apply: if two or more judges want them on their teams, the contestant gets to pick.
There was a lot of talk about home cooks and true professional chefs. So much so that it was almost like watching the annoying Masterchef show. Can we please come up with a new and less derogatory term for home cooks? Domestic Cuisine Makers, perhaps? Most of the chefs were forgettable, while some had decent pedigrees, but it all really came down to how tasty they could make one bite of food, and if the mentors think they could take what the contestants made and mold it to win.
Again, the premiere wasn't terrible, if overly padded out. That's the inherent problem with two-hour episodes of almost any reality show. We weren't a super fan of the $12 set with its tacky buttons and ugly high school lockers in the basement of some random building in Los Angeles, or the weird attempt at sex appeal with the voiceless servers wearing outfits that the girls of Vanderpump Rules's SUR would find far too revealing. Still, we like Ludo and Tony enough to keep tuning in for a while, but we're worried that there's a faux-rivalry brewing between Brian and Ludo that could become quite tedious to watch.
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