Catch the new reality cooking competition, “The Taste,” on Tuesdays, (8-10 p.m. EST) on ABC. We’re excited to have some of the show’s participants – competitors and mentor-judges alike – share their stories with readers of the Whole Story blog. Learn more about “The Taste” on ABC’s website opens in a new tab. We’ve heard from contestant Sarah Ashley Schiear opens in a new tab. Now here’s mentor and judge, Chef Brian Malarkey.
One of my goals as a chef, and as a mentor on The Taste, is to take a look back and pass on some of what I have learned over the years – from my successes and, maybe even more importantly, from my mistakes!
To me, an important part of being a chef is to fill my mental toolbox with as much information as I can and pass on this information to young up-and-comers; to coach and hopefully inspire! To give advice so that they don’t make the same mistakes. To teach discipline, “comfort in chaos,” and to focus and make calculated moves so time is not wasted and efficiency is enhanced. To season! To see, hear, touch, feel and most importantly to taste. To adapt at a moment’s notice, to laugh and have fun! To eat and live life to its fullest.
But I must not forget to strike a balance between sharing examples and my personal preferences, while still being open-minded to new ideas and techniques. That’s what it means to be a mentor!
Being a mentor on The Taste is a bit of a different game. I’m not in my own kitchen working with my own team on a common goal of making the best food possible in order to please guests and build an incredible “social dining” experience. Nope! This is a competition! A game! And it’s a game against some of the best culinary icons in this country and across the pond.Take Chef Bourdain: he’s a decent chef (ouch!) and by far one of the greatest and most worldly culinary visionaries of our time, plus he eats at the best restaurants in the world on an average day.
And then there’s Nigella Lawson, the “other Queen of England.” She is the queen of approachable, full-flavored, “homey” food. Not to mention she’s a great teacher and a shining star.
Last but not least, and the one I fear the most, Ludo Lefebvre! The French mad man, a leader of some of the greatest kitchens of our time, a technical wizard, an award-winning chef and an arrogant peacock!
I have to guide my team against the teams of these three. I have to educate them on what the other mentors like and dislike. I have to teach them to mix it up and confuse the enemy or face possible elimination.
In this game I’m not changing my team’s style to fit my kitchen, I’m “mentoring” them to cook their style with a twist of Malarkey! I’m trying to get them to The Taste trophy, the prize money and, most importantly, bragging rights for me! The battles are intense and the talent is awesome. And it all comes down to just one simple thing… the taste.
What is your best piece of cooking advice?