Television goes through fads and phases all the time. Only a few years ago we were all watching Big Brother and a whole swathe of other reality shows. Before that, we were in thrall to the detective dramas of the day. Nowadays, if someone isn’t sobbing their heart out in front of celebrity judges on a talent show, it ain’t worth watching. However, there has been one constant of TV schedules for as long as I can remember, and that is cooking shows.
So, taking the talent show format and artificially inseminating it with a cooking show, we have been given The Taste. It’s a bit like The Voice, only with less warbling and more spoons. The whole premise is that the budding chefs have to create one spoonful of food for the judges. The judges in question consist of the world’s sexiest crack fiend, Nigella Lawson, an unknown Anthony Bourdain, and a man who is so stereotypically French that he’s almost racist towards himself, Ludo Lefebvre. Together, they taste the spoons without knowing which chefs are responsible for their creation. This is supposedly an effort to evoke impartiality in the same manner as The Voice does, only without the need for swivel chairs and a terminal dose of Will.I.Am.
The main problem with the show is quite simply the amount of food that gets wasted. In order to create these tiny spoonfuls, the chefs are given vast array different foodstuffs, much of which isn’t used. In order to create a tiny cube of smoked salmon for their spoon, one contestant butchered a whole salmon to get the miniscule blob they required. A fish had to die for the privilege of getting a sliver of its flesh onto that spoon. But the wastage didn’t stop there. Oysters were mercilessly crushed for minute amounts of sauce. Chickens were debreasted and cut into lego-sized mouthfuls. Even the vegetables didn’t get off lightly as they were sliced into fine pieces for The Taste’s leaking, gastronomic machine. When a chef was evicted from the show, they had to walk past a gauntlet of freshly stacked fruit in order to reach the exit.
|Fuck your pretentious seabass, give me a kebab!|
Of course, this problem isn’t just limited to The Taste. In fact, The Taste probably wastes less than other cookery shows due to Nigella’s raging case of the munchies. But this leftover problem is endemic to the genre. Take the Iron Chef, an American show that makes The Taste look quaint in terms of extreme excess. The competing chefs are given a culinary playground as they are presented with a stack of ingredients that could feed a starving African family for 10 years, or John Goodman for 2 weeks. When you can measure your expendable harvest in galleons, you know you’ve taken things a tad too far. And that’s before the special ingredient is wheeled out, where a table big enough for The Hairy Bikers to have sex on is piled high with a chosen ingredient, such as an orchard’s worth of apples.
So what can we do our about our decadent Western cookery shows? We should expect our TV chefs to be a bit more economical. Perhaps we could force them to cook using leftover ingredients. Frankly, I like to see Jamie Oliver try and create a healthy, wholesome, 30 minute meal with some of last night’s leftover pizza, an egg that is past it’s sell by date, and a packet of instant noodles. Either that, or they could just send the leftovers to my house and I’ll make sure they are disposed of correctly.