Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/taste-test-by-kelly-fiore-review/ (8/12/13)I have always been a huge fan of the Food Network, particularly the competition shows like Chopped and Iron Chef: America. When I saw this book on Netgalley, I just knew I had to read it.Imagine my surprise to discover that Nora was from North Carolina! She was raised around great food. Her father owned a barbecue (notice my correct spelling of the word, versus the incorrect spelling in the blurb!) restaurant, and Nora felt at home in a kitchen – making anything from barbecue to gourmet meals. Her dream in life was to leave small town America, and when she was accepted into the Taste Test teen cooking program she saw her chance.When Nora gets to the show, she’s thrown into a new world – sort of an “us vs. them” kind of thing. There are those there who have always had a life of privilege and who waste no time telling Nora exactly what kind of hillbilly hick she is (No Christian, barbecue is not “hillbilly food” as you so eloquently put it). There are also those who end up being Nora’s friends. But these end up the underdogs on the show reinforcing the “us vs. them” mentality (though of course, Nora, as MC, is a top contender).I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see much of the actual competition. We got judges notes and debriefings after the fact, but we almost never got to see the contestants decide what to cook and participate in the challenges. Instead, we got all of the drama of the reality show – and let me tell you, there was a lot.Someone was trying to sabotage the show.There was all kinds of chemistry between Nora and Christian – but he was a complete jackass most of the time.Nora’s roommate was having a fling with one of the judges.See what I mean? Everything ended up outshining Taste Test – and since the show gave the novel its name, it shouldn’t have!Overall, it was an enjoyable story. It just wasn’t quite the story I was hoping to read. It was more Big Brother and less Next Food Network Star than I would have liked.