‘Top Chef’ Contestant Opens Up About Not Being Able To Smell or Taste Thanks to Long-Haul COVID-19

Food is all about taste and smell. Without those senses it would be impossible to know if something is good. This is why good chefs often taste their food before they serve it or add it to a menu.

Imagine being in a cooking competition and not being able to taste or smell. It might be easy to wonder why you would enter a cooking competition if you didn’t have those senses, but for Jackson Kalb, there’s a very good reason.

Kalb was a contestant on the show “Top Chef.” When he entered the competition, he had his senses of taste and smell, but before the show started filming and the competition began, everything changed.

Kalb got Covid-19. A common symptom and side effect of the virus is the loss of sense of taste and smell. While not everyone who gets Covid experiences these side effects, many people do, and in some cases, the senses of taste and smell don’t come back right away. This is what happened to Kalb.

The 31-year-old chef competitor caught Covid just weeks before the show started production. He knew losing the senses of taste and smell would mean that he wouldn’t be at the top of his cooking game, but he wasn’t going to give up without at least trying.

Kalb told PEOPLE that losing these two senses was one of the “most stressful things” he has ever experienced in his life. He explained, “I could not think of a single thing that would make this advantageous.”

Kalb tried tasting different foods leading up to the show. He said he could feel a “tingling sensation on my tongue” if something was too salty, but that was about it. He had to rely on instinct alone to guess if something was good or not.

Kalb was honestly surprised when he didn’t get eliminated in the first round of competition. He explained, “It was mind-bending and weird, and I still don’t really know what anything tasted like that I put up, but I guess my instincts were better than I thought they were, just for seasoning purposes.”

Watch the video below to learn more about this unusual cooking experience and to see Kalb finally admit to his team that he couldn’t taste or smell.

Do you usually taste food before serving it?