The Taste will be returning with one less judge next season. While Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Ludo Lefebvre are set to come back for another bite, ABC has decided not renew Brian Malarkey’s contract for the cooking competition show, sources tell me. Not that The Taste will be slimming down to a trio. “They are looking to find a new judge to replace him,” an insider says. Said Malarkey in a statement to food blog Eater. “Being a part of ABC’s The Taste was a great experience, especially mentoring one of my chefs all the way to the finish line and taking home the win. I am of course disappointed to part ways and not return for Season 2, but onward and upward! I’m looking forward to pursuing future television projects and continuing to grow our restaurant group, which has had its most successful year to date. Austin has welcomed Searsucker with open arms and we’re excited to open a restaurant in Los Angeles at the end of this year”.
While struggling in the ratings over its eight-episode freshman season, The Taste was renewed by ABC on May 14 and actually has an open casting call in LA this weekend for possible Season 2 contestants. Though he has five restaurants in San Diego, others in Texas and Arizona and was a past Top Chef finalist, Malarkey had the least TV experience of the foursome — Bourdain is a veteran presence on cable; Lawson has on-air history in the UK; and Lefebvre was a contestant on Iron Chef America, a guest judge on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and fronts Sundance Channel’s Ludo Bites America. Malarkey is repped by WME.