Watch Sweet Genius

Sweet genius is a reality cooking competition show that's been running for three seasons, created by Amanda Hulsey for the Food Network. The competition pits four top pastry chefs against each other who must use their skills to create a dessert masterpiece from bizarre ingredients to earn ten thousand dollars in cash and the title of Sweet Genius. During the competition each contestant must display creativity and imagination in their dishes while working with the clock, and oftentimes the ingredients, against them. The show's host and judge is world renowned and award winning pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel, a self proclaimed Sweet Genius and owner of one of America's best couture cake bakeries. Ben Israel is jovial in his hosting duties and seems to derive real enjoyment from deploying the secret ingredients that make the competition more challenging.

The competing chefs have three rounds of elimination challenges to create desserts made of chocolate, candy, and cake on a time limit. Contestants are given forty and fifty minutes to finish in the first two rounds and an hour to complete the final one. The chefs must create a dish based on whatever Ben-Israel has provided them for inspiration. Usually the inspiration is absurd or whimsical and contestants have done everything from taken the inspiration literally to making vague claims about how their dish connects to the theme Ben-Israel presented. Theme pieces have ranged anywhere from rubber duckies to sword swallowers to musicians. They must also use ingredients that would be difficult to incorporate in a dessert. Mandatory and surprise ingredients have included dehydrated space food, beets, and chicken stock. Many of the ingredients are savory, which aren't generally used in a sweet dish.

Ben-Israel tries the dishes after each round and evaluates its strengths and weaknesses, offering constructive criticism. The competing chefs are given an opportunity to explain how they incorporated the inspiration theme and, sometimes, their mistakes. The final two contestants often tell Ben-Israel some personal anecdote about themselves as he eats their dishes. Whenever a contestant is eliminated Chef Ben-Israel informs them with a catchphrase using the title of the show. The winner receives congratulations from Ben-Israel as well as their prize money.

Thursday 10:00 PM et/pt on Food Network
3 Seasons, 34 Episodes - Currently Airing
September 22, 2011
Reality, Food, How To
6.7/10
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Sweet Genius Full Episode Guide

  • A matrimonial-themed test has the chefs scratching their heads.

  • The chefs must incorporate one blue ingredient and one yellow ingredient into a chocolate dessert.

  • The chefs rocket into the competition, creating space-themed chocolate desserts from Italian olives and a retro candy.

  • Chef Ron introduces the chefs to his first inspiration, and later, the chefs must incorporate a fruity cereal.

  • The chefs incorporate chewy fruit and meaty hors d'oeuvres into their chocolate desserts. In the candy test, as they seek to combine a Middle Eastern dip with a desert delight, the chefs must be inspired by a Native American talisman. The final two chefs try to make cake using a pairing of two mandatory ingredients.

  • The competitors use Parisian inspiration as they make chocolate desserts from chicken stock and a Southern candy treat. The three remaining chefs endeavor to make candy creations from fennel and a juicy fruit. In the final cakes test, a heavenly, twinkling inspiration and two assertive ingredients make for an intriguing final match-up.

  • It's time for mistletoe and merriment as Chef Ron has a few holiday surprises for the competitors!

  • The chefs are inspired by a stuntman in the first round and some squeaky birds in the second round. With $10,000 at stake, the last two chefs are given a fair attraction as an inspiration, but can they be fairly certain that Chef Ron will enjoy their meal?

  • Four chefs compete in three rounds to be crowned sweet genius.

  • Four chefs compete in three rounds to be crowned sweet genius.

  • Four pastry chefs receive inspiration from an erupting volcano for the first round, combine an oversized treat with a green mash in the second round, and receive inspiration from an enchanting figure for the final test.

  • Sweet Genius celebrates Halloween and creates some devilish treats.

  • In the third season opener, the chefs receive inspiration for their breakfast food and bland bread chocolate desserts from a few canines. In the final round a charming, chiming object gets the chefs' imaginations ticking.

  • In the first round, the chefs must create chocolate desserts made from an exotic fruit and a ballpark favorite. Then for the candy test, the chefs are stunned when they are given a seriously strong British staple as an ingredient with a silky weave as inspiration. It's a medieval duel for the ages in the final test, with the $10,000 prize going to the chef who turns the humble mandatory ingredients into a noble cake.

  • With an armored animal as inspiration and a breakfast cereal as mandatory ingredient, the chefs must find a way to make delectable chocolate desserts. Just three chefs advance to the candy test, where Chef Ron Ben-Israel challenges them to reflect on an awe-inspiring art. A retro hairstyle and savory ingredients are a lofty challenge in the final cake test.

  • The chefs must incorporate a soup and Italian side dish in their flickering chocolate desserts. In the second test, the chefs are presented with a cuddly inspiration and a sticky surprise which Chef Ron Ben-Israel hopes they can use to create lovable candy desserts. The two chefs who advance to the final test must come up with a fluid plan for creating water-inspired cakes from a strange Japanese candy and grape leaves.

  • The slithering inspiration gives the chefs a fright in the dessert round. In the candy test, the chefs are called upon to make a common vegetable into a playfully delicious dessert.

  • The inspiration for the chocolate desserts test is sure to get the chefs' minds spinning with genius ideas about how to make best use of the mandatory ingredients. The candy test combines magic inspiration with a chewy mandatory ingredient. Then, two chefs fight it out in the final test, but just one chef will manage to make a successful cake worthy of $10,000.

  • In one challenge, the pastry chefs must make candy desserts with salty ingredients.

  • A baby-themed chocolate test is the chefs' first challenge. The chefs who advance are given a kitschy keepsake as the inspiration and must balance tart and pungent mandatory ingredients. With one of the most iconic structures in the world as inspiration for the final pastry test, the chefs are surprised when Chef Ron Ben-Israel gives them three mandatory ingredients!

  • In the chocolate desserts test, the chefs must incorporate marshmallows and water chestnuts. In the candy test, the chefs must use rolled fruit snacks and shortbread cookies to honor their colorful, twisty inspiration. The last two chefs walk on eggshells trying to incorporate savory ingredients for their final cake test.

  • Flamingo-inspired chocolate desserts are the marching orders for the first test. In the candy round, will the childhood inspiration or the mandatory ingredients prove more puzzling? The last two chefs must use ingredients native to Southeast Asia to make a cake fit for a royal.

  • The chefs must find a way to make a pasta and spicy candy work in their chocolate desserts in the first test. Then, in the candy test, the chefs must figure out how the mystery ingredients can be folded into their origami-inspired desserts. For the final test, the chefs' cakes must honor Chef Ron Ben-Israel's very personal inspiration.

  • A master musician inspires creative choices in the first test, as the chefs churn out chocolate desserts with cheese and chili ingredients.

  • In the first test of genius, the chefs must stay on their toes when they see the live, lovely inspiration.

  • The chefs will either sink or swim trying to create chocolate desserts with a breakfast treat and a fall snack.

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