'The Taste' makes Brian Malarkey turn a blind eye to cooking

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ABC launches a cooking competition Tuesday, Jan. 22, and on paper "The Taste" sounds very much like "The Voice."

Instead of talented singers, chosen sight unseen, now the contestants are chefs presenting food in blind taste tests.

"We are trying to find teams that we can mentor," Brian Malarkey, one of the four judges, tells Zap2it. The others are Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Ludo Lefebvre. "We are tasting food that we don't see how it is presented or who cooked it. It is super hard.

"Your taste buds will go crazy, and you are breaking it down," he continues. "It got me to focus on flavor again."

An example of a challenge on the show would be to cook "nose to tail -- exotic cuts of animal," Malarkey says. "It could be a fish cheek or a pig's tail."

"We help our team try to win a team challenge, then they have to compete against each other individually," Malarkey says. "We could kick off someone from our own team."

Of those four judges, Malarkey may be the least known, though he's propelling himself on the fast track to celebrity chef fame. He opened seven restaurants in 2 1/2 years, has a cookbook and has been on "Top Chef."

The father of three explains the derivation of his restaurants' names: Searsucker, Burlap, Herringbone, Gabardine and Gingham.

"It came about as an accident," he says. "When I was opening the first restaurant, I wanted a playful name. I wanted a name that made you kind of laugh, and some restaurant names I loved were Village Idiot, Closed for Business."

Malarkey, who specializes in seafood, describes his food as "just playful, relaxed, unpretentious, big-bowled food."

"We are just in it to have fun," he says of the show. "It is the same approach to life as I do to running a restaurant and just a facilitator to having a good time."
Photo/Video credit: ABC