- 3 Seasons
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.