Sweet Genius: Magical, Edible, Terrifying.

I’m a bit of a Food Network junkie. (And an HGTV junkie. Really, if  NBC, CBS, HGTV, AMC and Food Network were the only channels on TV, I’d be okay. I’d also be okay if my favorite shows merged into a super channel known only as SHEPTOR…and given the way technology is changing, I may be able to create it one day. Thanks, Apple TV!) Rambling aside, I am easily sucked into most Food Network competition shows. I’m a particularly big fan of Chopped. The pace of the show, along with the crazy random ingredients used, makes everything very exciting. (The episode currently playing–because, yes, I’m watching Food Network while I blog about Food Network, the addiction is strong–involves a dramatic incident with boiling water. Seeing that in print makes it seem a little lame, but it’s actually cool and interesting, I swear).

There are other shows on Food Network that are fun for their sense of adventure (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) or for the sheer amount of information delivered in a thirty minute time span (Unwrapped, Best Thing I Ever Ate), and then there are those select, experimental few that just make you scratch your head and go…”uh, what?” The other night, I witnessed the most confusing Food Network show yet: Sweet Genius.

Sweet Genius follows the Chopped format (weird ingredients, 4 competitors, eliminated one-by-one in three rounds until a winner remains), but it focuses only on desserts, leaving out the appetizer and entree. On the surface, that sounds really awesome, right? Or, at least, it does to me, but I also love baking desserts. But, the competition format and ingredient selection is where the similarities to Chopped end and where things start getting weird.

Hosted by Ron Ben-Israel (famous cake maker and designer), Sweet Genius is…well, I’ll let the promo speak for me:

The promo neglects a few things: Ben-Israel has a sidekick: a disembodied voice (think GLaDOS for all you Portal fans out there) that explains things to the competitors…like the origins of the mystery ingredient for that round…all while a conveyor belt rolls out said ingredient to the competitors (the button Ben-Israel presses in the promo “triggers” the conveyor belt and the unnerving voice).

The promo does get one thing right. The themes are WEIRD. They’re as vague as “darkness” and as oddly specific as “an oyster with a pearl inside.” I agree with flamboyant glasses man (who was in the episode I saw and just freaked out the whole time): I have no clue what’s going on.

…But you should still check out Sweet Genius. So you can know what it’s about…

Ron Ben-Israel, Sweet Genius

...and be haunted by it forever.

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