The Taste Contestants on Taking Food to New Heights

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The Taste Contestants on Taking Food to New Heights
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The Taste Contestants on Taking Food to New Heights

Check out this slideshow to learn home cooking tips and tricks from The Taste's Shawn Davis and Erika Monroe Williams.

Image Credit: Sasha Shemirani/ABC

Amp Up Dishes with Butter, Cream and Cheese

"[With] cheese, cream and butter, you can't go wrong, period," says Davis. "They have the ability to transform a lot of dishes into something that's a little better than you'd expect the outcome to be." For instance, you can make a good risotto without cheese, but cheese really gives the extra richness to take it to the next level.

Image Credit: Sasha Shemirani/ABC

Explore the Wide World of Seafood

"[Seafood] definitely gives you a variety of play," says Davis. "There are so many varieties of seafood out there, you can just have fun."

Image Credit: Sasha Shemirani/ABC

Bread with Panko

"You can take anything, bread it in panko, fry it up and make it a crispy delicious delight," explains Monroe Williams. "I know Nigella [Lawson] loves panko and loves the crunch it gives a dish."

When Monroe Williams referred to panko as one of her "biggest vices," Lawson came right back, saying, "it's not a vice; it's one of your biggest virtues."

Image Credit: Sasha Shemirani/ABC

Make Texture Dynamic

"I've always tried to make every dish have a lot of different textures and layers and not just be one note," says Monroe Williams. "I like to have a little crunch in there."

Image Credit: Sasha Shemirani/ABC

Learn a Classic and Then Experiment with It

One of the best things a home cook can do is learn how to roast a chicken perfectly with crispy skin and moist meat throughout.

Once you have mastered the basics and classics, put a twist on them. "At least a few times a week, I'll take a classic recipe and try to put a modern spin on it," says Monroe Williams. "I'll throw a fried green tomato on something or add some sort of aioli. [I] figure out how to turn an everyday dish into something fun."

Image Credit: Sasha Shemirani/ABC

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Kitchen Daily had the opportunity to speak with Shawn Davis and Erika Monroe Williams, the two contestants sent packing on the last episode of ABC's latest culinary challenge, The Taste. The chefs were asked to make a dish (to be served in one single spoonful) that paired well with wine.

For Davis, who recently opened his Beverly Hills eatery, H.O.M.E. House of Music & Entertainment Restaurant, the biggest challenge of the competition was cooking simple food. "It is harder to cook simple food," says the professional chef. "I understand the competition [between] the home cook, the caterer and the professional. It really doesn't matter [which you are]." While he had professional experience, Davis received the boot from the show before many home cooks.

On the other hand, one of the home cooks, Monroe Williams, found it "really daunting [to cook] for people who had sophisticated palates" such as Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain who have enjoyed a lot of international cuisine.

Still, both Davis and Monroe Williams agree that seasoning is one of the most significant elements of the competition and in cooking in general. "You can see some of the chefs get criticized on the show for under-seasoning," says Monroe Williams. "You always want to make sure you season meat before you put it on the grill and season pasta water so you don't have a bland pasta. Salt can just add that little bit your dish needs to bring it to the next level."

Davis himself has experienced praise for his simply seasoned dishes at his restaurant, proving that a little salt goes a long way. "Sometimes people come in my restaurant and ask what i put on [a dish] and I say, 'salt and pepper,'" explains Davis. "Flavor is key."

Check out the slideshow above to learn cooking secrets from Davis and Monroe Williams, and tune into ABC's The Taste tonight at 8/7c.

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