PASADENA, Calif. — On the new ABC cooking competition show “The Taste,” celebrity chefs Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and restaurateur Brian Malarkey judge the merits of wannabe culinary masters, both pros and home cooks, on a single spoonful in blind taste tests a la “The Voice.” And as on “The Voice,” the chefs also take the contestants under their wings as mentors. But since the blind tests continue, the judges/coaches could accidentally eliminate their own team members. “It’s tricky,” said Lefevbre, famous for his “LudoBites” pop-up restaurant events in LA, when he recently sat down to lunch with reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour. “We don’t know whose food we’re eating.” Lefevbre, who has also appeared on “Top Chef Masters” and “The Iron Chef,” also said he wouldn’t be going easy on his contestants. “I am real chef,” he said in his lilting accent, promising that the contestants who signed up with him “get to suffer.” “The Taste” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Channel 5.
Q. What appealed to you about this show?
A. I love to meet people and I love to teach. And I think it’s very exciting to try and make somebody better. Especially the home cooks. You’ll see on the show, I have some home cooks on my team and I love to see that.
Q. Who’s your biggest competitor?
A. I don’t fight. Anthony is my idol, I love Anthony. Anthony knows everything about food. And he knows how to talk with his team. He’s very smart. Nigella, she was the first food porn. I was in love with her 10 years ago when she was on E!. She’s so sexy. She knows a lot about food. Malarkey, I didn’t know who he was.
Q. Were you surprised by any of the home cooks?
A. Yes. I ate some home chef stew, amazing. I ate some from [a professional] chef, disgusting.
Q. Were any of the contestants good enough that you would hire them?
A. Yes, there is somebody I want to hire. You’ll see on the show.
Q. Did you often have preconceived notions based on the bite? Thinking it was a home cook vs. pro or male vs. female?
A. Oh yeah, one day there was a lady and I thought [the cook] was a man for sure.
Q. How would you do on a show like this?
A. It’s so hard to balance everything on one spoon. Sometimes some of the dishes are so good but the contestants don’t put enough vegetable or meat.
Q. What should every aspiring chef have in their kitchen?
A. Some good fat in the fridge. Butter. I’m French.
Q. What would you make if you had to put your best foot forward?
A. Probably something very simple like good scrambled eggs with a lot of butter.
Interview has been edited and condensed.