Is it just us, or do there seem to be more TV cooking competitions these days than stars in the sky? The latest riff on the "Top Next Master Iron Star Chef" theme hails from none other than Anthony Bourdain, the self-styled bad boy of the culinary world.
ABC's new "The Taste," which will air Tuesday evenings, adds celebrity coaches and a blind elimination element to the usual food competition framework. Think of it as "The Voice" to "Top Chef's" "American Idol" -- without the silly chairs, but with an abundance of outsize personalities.
In addition to the always entertaining and outspoken Bourdain, the judging panel boasts three other familiar faces, including Brian Malarkey, who competed on "Top Chef" in Season 3 and now runs seven restaurants in Southern California and Arizona, including four named after types of fabric -- Herringbone, Gabardine, Burlap and Searsucker (yes, that's how it's spelled.)
You may recall Ludo Lefebvre's name -- and ego -- from Season 2 of "Top Chef Masters." The French-born, Los Angeles-based chef is known for LudoBites, his pop-up restaurant and cookbook of the same name.
Nigella Lawson has a "Nigella Bites" line as well that includes a Food Network show and companion cookbook, although any toothy similarities end there. We have yet to see the British food writer and television star throw any on-air tantrums.
The new series kicks off at 8 p.m. Jan. 22 with a two-hour episode that pits 16 chefs -- pros and talented home cooks, coached by the famous foursome -- against one another in a series of blind taste tests inspired by various culinary themes and challenges. Bourdain and his fellow judges/coaches will send losers packing, based on the taste of a single spoonful -- and without knowing whose dish was whose. Details: http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-taste.