January 23 2015 – Robert Fiumara
Up until now, reality cooking shows and chef competitions have been relegated to Western television. Lately, they’ve begun to branch out with versions appearing in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and France. Now, the Middle East is getting on in the action with their version of The Taste premiering on Arabic television later this year.
The Taste is a reality cooking show much like MasterChef. In it, cooking recruits who possess different skill levels compete in different challenges, each of which test their skill level. Professional and amateur chefs alike are able to compete on the show while the judges offer them guidance and suggestions during the course of the competition. To begin with, each judge is blindfolded and treated to a blind taste test of each competitor’s dishes. If the judge chooses to pass the dish, that chef is added to the judge’s team. If not, the competitor is eliminated. This process continues until there are twenty competitors left and are divided into four teams. A cash prize of $100,000 is at stake!
Many ingredients that the chef’s are given to work with are quiet unusual! They can include leftover vegetables, bones, and rare body parts like cow tongues or intestines. Each taste test is then given to each judge who tastes the sample blindly, not knowing which dish is a part of his own team. Each dish will be sampled within an hour of preparation and any difficulty in the kitchen during preparation could mean the difference between remaining in the competition and elimination. For the Middle-Eastern version of the show, the judges will include Egyptian chef Alaa El Shirbini and chef Anissa Helou. Chef Shirbini specializes in authentic Egyptian dishes while Chef Helou is a number on selling cookbook author, specializing in Mediterranean, Middle East, and North African cuisine. Bethany Kehdy, an author and Middle-Eastern chef will also judge as well as young chef Mona Mosly, a Saudi chef and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu.
While The Taste gives viewers something different to watch it also gives Chef’s a very real challenge by asking them to cook up dishes without prior knowledge of what will be demanded or the ingredients they will be using. With only one spoon available to each judge, flavor, texture, and temperature are extremely important. The Taste will air on Friday and Saturday evening at 9pm.
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