Aftertaste

3 out of 5

Created by: Julie De Fina and Matthew Bate

covers season 1

Several times michelin-starred chef Easton West (Erik Thomson) is all of those things that reality TV and social media once loved – abrasive; crass; obsessive; eccentric – but have somewhat more recently come to see as elements of sexist and racist personalities, with even further deeper-seated issues rendering these behaviors as, ultimately, childish and abusive. So after one freakout too many, West becomes persona non grata in the chef elite, and fitfully slinks back to his smalltown Australian home in Adelaide Hills.

But it’s not like his attitude as an adult sprang up recently: his sister hates him; his dad hates him; and previous proteges who have made good in town see him as a relic. Only his niece, Diana (Natalie Abbott), trying to get her own unique pastry business going, is excited to have him around, latching on to Easton as a way to potentially catapult her skills into the limelight.

The odd-couple, let’s-learn-from-each-other pairing ensues, mostly as expected: family bonds are resewn; Diana and Easton each come to understand their own failings; a new family restaurant endeavor is formed and happy endings, and etcetera and etcetera. And yeah, that is pretty much what happens, although writers / co-creators Julie De Fina and Matthew Bate and additional writer Matthew Bate do a good job of doling out the life lessons at a believable pace, and also not allowing anyone to come by the stuff too easily: Easton remains a self-obsessed pig; Diana remains fairly standoffish and selfish; but they take bit-by-bit steps toward progress.

The predictability of the flow even extends to a lamented drug trip “now I understand everything” episode, however, our cast is incredibly game throughout – no one’s afraid to look particularly silly – and the production design and direction really does sell the “local” feel of Adelaide, even if the business model the duo settles on for their restaurant seems all kindsa hoity-toity unmaintainable. But it entertains, never getting too distracted by side squabbles, and kept to half-hour blips, the show keeps things moving and definitely manages some laugh out loud moments.