The Taste Contestants Talk Home Cooking

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The Taste Contestants Talk Home Cooking

Check out this slideshow to learn home cooking tips and tricks from Renatta Lindsey and Micah Kasman.

Plating is Design

"Look at the plating as a design problem to figure out," advises Micah. "I really believe that visual moment that people see food is a preconception of how it's going to taste. Something may taste great, but if it doesn’t look good people may write it off before they even taste it."

"Whether you are a home cook or a professional chef, making your food look great at home is really important to give it nice quality," he continues. "You spent all that time cooking, why not make it visually great and get your family excited about it."

Buy Fresh Spices

"I used to buy spices pre-ground and pre-toasted and that works, but my favorite thing is getting fresh spices, toasting them myself, grinding them with a mortar and pestle and really having that extra freshness in whatever I'm cooking," says Micah. "I think it really adds a nice bold complexity to what's cooking, and it only takes a minute."

Taste Your Food

One of the biggest mistakes people make, according to Micah, is not tasting their food while they are preparing it. "Add more seasoning, add more spices and continually taste as you cook," he says. "Do it as a slow process so you understand how the flavors are changing and [how they] get to the point where it tastes great. People sometimes throw too much seasoning in [all] at once and it doesn’t give food a chance to absorb all the flavor."

Cook What You Love

"Cook what you love or cook with a passion," explains Renatta. "I don’t regret a moment because I cooked exactly what I wanted to cook. Cook with a passion [and], when its all said and done, whether you are winning or loosing, you did it the way you loved to do it."

Micah agrees. "I try to cook things that are true to what I like eating," he says.

Take Risks

"Never be afraid to take risks," recommends Micah. "Always follow your gut, do what you know and do it well. Take risks to get rewards in the end."

Renatta learned a similar lesson from her coach, Nigella Lawson, during her time on the show. "[Don't be] afraid to go out of the box," says Renatta. "Even though [Nigella] is a home cook, you can tell that she is familiar with a variety of foods."

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Kitchen Daily had the opportunity to speak with Renatta Lindsey and Micah Kasman, the first two contestants to head home from ABC's latest culinary challenge, The Taste. The fresh reality cooking show asks professional chefs and home cooks to prepare dishes to be eaten in one bite.

Like most cooking competitions, the short time span given to prepare a meal continues to be one of the greatest challenges for contestants on The Taste. "It was a pretty fast-paced, intense experience [especially] being a home cook," said Micah. Renatta adds, "When you are in your kitchen cooking and you are just doing what you love, you are not on a time schedule. When you are looking at that hour [on the show], you think you have all the time in the world, and you don't."

Even with the strict time limits, Renatta, accustomed to cooking large portions for many visitors to her home, found herself with tons of left-over food. "You were cooking portions of food that you didn't even have to cook," she says. "You cook these huge portions, then you have to place it on that little spoon."

That "little spoon" was also one of the biggest challenges for the contestants who try to conceptualize what they want the judges to taste first and plate it accordingly. "You look at that spoon, and you start to think a lot about that spoon," Renatta says.

Both Renatta and Micah admit that the competition was intense but Renatta explains that the competitiveness calmed down off-camera. "When you are on that camera, it is definitely about the competition, but once it's a wrap you can kind of release, let that go, and enjoy yourself," she says. "When I sit back and I watch the [other contestants on the show], I would say to myself, 'they are not like that at all,' but competitiveness brings a certain nature out of people."

Check out the slideshow above to learn some of Renatta and Micah's favorite cooking secrets and tricks, and tune into ABC's The Taste tonight at 8/7c.

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