To the surprise of basically no one who saw their shameless plug for the bacon coffin, Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow—best known as the Bacon Boys—are getting their own reality TV show. Through their company J&D Foods, Esch and Lefkow have given the world porcine products like Baconnaise, Bacon Salt, and, of course, Baconlube. The president of the production company developing their show told Variety that Esch and Lefkow “are what reality buyers are looking for. … Big characters, working in an interesting subculture who are completely authentic.”
Given that we have reached the point where it is now acceptable for critically lauded chefs to grub for ratings by parachuting into the jungle to participate in a sort of three-way circle jerk with foraged ingredients, it should follow that food TV’s next great hopes could be relative or complete unknowns with big personalities and little awareness of their limitations.
Maybe that’s why I find myself so fascinated with Taste Buds. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s by BFFs Johnny Diamond and Erich Zuver, who announce at the outset of the first (and so far only) episode, “Endless is the search for the perfect meal or the coolest bar, and we will stop at nothing in our quest for the delectable.”
What this entails, in the pilot, is a trip to the Savemor Discount Liquor in Novato, California, to find a bottle of Zin to drink with some lamb burgers they grill for lunch, which they consume while lounging on a wicker lawn couch on somebody’s outdoor deck. The three-minute-plus episode is like what would happen if Sideways and Entourage went into a dark room together, had a threesome with an Axe commercial, and sold the resulting photos to The Onion.
In other words, it’s fairly awful, and that’s exactly what makes it so enjoyable to watch. You could argue that known quantities like Rachael Ray or Guy Fieri are also perfectly awful and thus fun to watch, but what distinguishes Taste Buds is that its creators seem to be totally unaware that they’re starring in a parody of the vast majority of food TV. That and they seem to take their mission very, very seriously.
Food in this context is a means to an end (fame). If that’s a bit dispiriting, at least it lacks the Food Network’s relentlessly test-marketed slick aftertaste.
Image source: Dave Lefkow (left) and Justin Esch, J&D Foods / Facebook