Sweet Genius − Kosher Baker − The Competition
Paula Shoyer on The Food Network
When we first interviewed Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker and recent reality star of The Food Network's new show, Sweet Genius – Disco Genius episode – she was not able to reveal any details of the actual competition prior to the show being aired. The show was aired on October 27th and we watched Paula and three other contestants compete for the title of Sweet Genius and a $10,000 prize.
There were three elimination categories: Frozen Desserts, Baked Desserts, and Chocolate Desserts. Each category consisted of an inspiration item, and up to three mandatory items with several of them being introduced after the baking started. The chefs do not know what the item is until it appears on a conveyor belt, complete with blinking colored lights.
Would our gal make it to the finals? We spoke with Paula the morning after the show aired and the following are excerpts from our conversation.
When was the segment, Disco Genius, filmed?
We can't imagine how you were able to keep so calm when the pressure must have been tremendous. So what was it really like?
Were the stations stocked with the staples – flour, sugar, butter, eggs, etc. – or did you have to get every item yourself?
Did you have a master plan in your mind as to how you would face each challenge? The time limitation must eliminate many of your recipes.
The first challenge, creating a frozen dessert, used a Bonsai tree as inspiration and jelly beans as a mandatory ingredient. You appeared calm when another mandatory item, hot sauce, magically arrived on the conveyor belt. How did it affect your original recipe concept? We thought your creation was very original: Rosemary Lemon Sponge Cake layered with Raspberry Sorbet, Rosemary Ginger Ice Cream and Carmel sauce.
The Rosemary Lemon Sponge Cake is in my book. I wanted to make some kind of nut candy bark or white chocolate to put on top but never got to it because I was so busy with the frozen elements. There is a time constraint, 40 minutes for this category, and that includes doing everything. I was so busy I forgot to plate the ice cream. Everyone's frozen elements melted because of the lights and the time it took to present the plates, so Chef Ron Ben-Israel judged that round on flavor.
Note: Paula was not flustered when the hot sauce was introduced and just proceeded to make a caramel sauce and added the hot sauce to it. That's our gal!
How did you feel when the first elimination name was announced and it wasn't yours?
The second challenge was to create a baked dessert, which is your area of expertise. The inspiration was a Unicorn and the mandatory ingredient was an Ostrich egg. After baking started, they added two additional mandatory ingredients, Durian Fruit and curry powder. We thought that you were a "Sweet Genius" with your interpretation of the ingredients: An opened face Fruit (plums and raspberries ) Galette Tart shaped like the horn of a unicorn, with lemon curd and blueberry sauce.
We were very surprised that you were eliminated with this challenge and thought that you would proceed to the final challenge. How did you feel when Chef Ron Ben-Israel announced your name?
Note: We do agree that the unicorn invokes images.
Given what you now know, would you do anything differently the next time you are selected to appear on a reality cooking show and would you do it again?
Chef Mauricio won the Sweet Genius challenge. What do you think of his creations?
For us, Paula Shoyer is a Sweet Genius – she displayed creativity, responded well under pressure and was glamorous!
October 30, 2011