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"Sweet Genius" = Dr. Evil?

Am I crazy, or does this "Sweet Genius" character remind you of Dr. Evil?

Especially since the winner of his show gets Ten THOUUUUUUUUUSAND DOLLARS.


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  1. Definitely not a strained comparison. All he needs is a monocle and a cat...

    7 Replies
    1. re: inaplasticcup

      the tv commercial has him peering into the camera -- like when dr. evil was making his demands.

      his "supplicants" here in the photo made me think of dr. evil's table with scott, mini-me, frau and no.2. LOL

      1. re: inaplasticcup

        In the original Chopped concept, Ted was supposed to have a small dog that got to eat the chopped entries.

          1. re: soupkitten

            From an interview several years ago:

            "Funny story for you! When the idea of Chopped surfaced, it was originally meant to be taped at some guy’s mansion with him and his crazy Chihuahua. A stuffy fellow in a tuxedo was to host, and the losing chef’s dish was then fed to the dog! I am not kidding, I saw it! I think it is genius! Twisted, but genius! Turned out it was too much for Food Network!

            Continue reading on Examiner.com Exclusive interview with Food Network's Ted Allen: Behind the scenes of Chopped, Season Three! - National food network | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/food-network-..."

            1. re: paulj

              Too funny, though the show should then be called wolfed! or scarfed! as in, the losing dish got wolfed down by a dog.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                leading to the inevitable "so bad the dog wouldn't touch it" clips. . . which i could see myself giggling at, but in reality it might make some potential competitors think twice.

                1. re: soupkitten

                  HA! Good point. And I'll bet PETA wouldn't allow it, either.


      2. Thank you! He is totally creepy to me!

        1 Reply
        1. Based on those promos, I will never, ever watch this show. He looks like a complete and total a**hole.

          19 Replies
          1. re: acgold7

            Ron Ben-Israel is actually a very highly respected pastry chef and cake creator, who has been referred to by New York Magazine as the Manolo Blahnik of cake makers. He is a Visiting Master Pastry-Instructor at The French Culinary Institute in NYC, specializes in wedding and special occasion cakes, really edible art, cake couture if you will, and is a master with sugar paste flowers and I mean master. He has a beautiful shop in NYC, has written books and is involved in food charities in NYC. He's also an all around nice guy.

            As far as the FN trailer making him look like Dr. Evil, that's their problem, and I can't imagine why they'd want that particular look, nor why they scheduling another dessert show. It appears to me that the premise is Chopped, but for desserts.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              I can't decide if it's Chopped for desserts or Iron Chef for desserts.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I thought it was Dessert Iron Chef... but having watched it it's Chopped: Dessert. The idea is okay, but what's with that persona? It's going to drive me NUTS. Does he really have to try to describe every dish in single words? What's wrong with using full sentences and proper English?

                1. re: Kajikit


                  Chopped:Dessert hosted by Dr. Evil and the "voice" from Minute to Win It.

                  I didn't see the entire show (fell asleep), but I dont' think he has the presence to carry this off by himself. Even Iron Chef and Chopped have judges...


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    TDQ, that's the funniest description of this show I've heard yet :-)

                    It's more like a Chopped variant. The contestants don't get all the ingredients at once, they're kind of doled out at the worst possible moment, and each round has a "theme" that the contestants have to portray in their creations.

                    I was sure I wouldn't like this show, but having watched 2 episodes I have to say I've found it rather fun and amusing.

                  2. re: Kajikit

                    I didn't have problems with the single word descriptions. Given the context, 'crunchy' is just as understandable as 'this is crunchy'.

                    I don't know if I'll warm up to this as much as Chopped. I'm not that much of a dessert maker or consumer. Still I might learn something about how professionals think about dessert creativity and balance. It would be interesting the read the reactions of someone else in the business ( Jacques Torres?). Is this the way they think and talk about sweets, or is more is it a put on? So far it's better than cartoon based cakes. Looks like the set designers had some fun - more ICA like than Chopped.

                2. re: bushwickgirl

                  I'm sure everything you say is accurate. It neatly encapsulates why it's not a show for me. I'm sure a lot of people like this stuff. It just isn't my thing.

                  Isn't Manolo Blahnik the guy who makes really ugly, painful, obscenely overpriced shoes that are of no practical value whatsoever?

                  1. re: acgold7

                    Now that's a very personal opinion about the shoes, and not a common or popular one. I have more than a few a girlfriends who would die for Blahniks. Practical, maybe not, painful, most likely, overpriced, only for those who don't have it like that, ugly, never. But we were talking about cake.

                    Whether you watch the show or not is up to you, it's fine if it's not your thing. I just felt I needed to out Ron, he's a true professional and I found your a**hole remark a harsh and inaccurate slam.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      If you actually read what I wrote, anything critical about him was referring to the promo, and in fact I said I believed what you wrote about him being a very nice man. I did not slam him at all.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        Sorry, but that was not obvious to me. Maybe you should have worded it a bit more clearly.

                        On another note, what if this program turns out to be the best thing ever on FN; and you'll have missed it.

                  2. re: bushwickgirl

                    All of his credentials stay the same to all the people who know who he is. As for "all around nice guy" - try working for him, or learning from him. You won't think the same for long.

                    1. re: karenmusic

                      "All of his credentials stay the same to all the people who know who he is."

                      They do. But I think you meant "are the same", correct?

                      As far as the rest of your post, do you have personal experience to back that statement up? Certainly sounds so. I detect some unhappiness.

                      Working for someone who consistently produces the quality that he does while maintaining the reputation that he has wiil most likely will be extremely demanding. That doesn't make him less of a nice guy. I think it makes him a better person, professionally and spiritually, for staying true to what he does, and that works equally as well for his employees or students; he gives them his best, be it harsh or gentle; the demands for the most creativity and the highest work ethic trickle down. So if he's tough, cranky, overly demanding (from one's perspective) or a downright bitch, that has no bearing on his personality, just on the quality of expertise he demands.

                      I bet if you took him out for a nice glass of wine, he''d be a puppy.

                    2. re: bushwickgirl

                      With all due respect, Ron is not a Pastry chef. He makes beautiful cakes, yes, he teaches at FCI, yes but a pastry chef he is not!

                      1. re: edge610

                        FCI bills him as 'Visiting Master Pastry Chef-Instructor'
                        Is this a case of 'those who can't do, teach'? :)

                        1. re: paulj

                          Except he never went to Pastry School. Agree!

                          1. re: edge610

                            Is a degree from pastry school a requirement for being a pastry chef? Do apprenticeships, and success in the business count?

                            1. re: paulj

                              Is a degree from medical school required to be a doctor. The point i made was that to call yourself a Pastry Master means more than making cakes. You should be able to excel at all the techniques of pastry

                              1. re: edge610

                                back in the day, you didn't need a degree to be a doctor or lawyer.

                                i don't see why not having a degree precludes one from "excel[ling] at all the techniques of pastry."

                                surely he has "made more than cakes"?

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  People with higher intelligence do manage to bypass the traditional schooling or at least shorten it. Pair that with natural talent and those are the exceptions.

                  3. Just what FN needs yet ANOTHER cake show.

                    I will say this though the host does make a decent cake.

                    1. i've never heard of this genius, but i wondered how he let himself be F-networked. he seems to have some funny photo promos on the google images search.

                      1. 'Sweet Genius' makes 'The Chairman' (from Iron Chef America) seem like Ernest Hemingway by comparison. And if 'Sweet Genius' wore a black bodysuit, he'd be that _other_ Mike Myers SNL character -- Dieter -- from 'Sprockets'...

                        4 Replies
                            1. re: silence9

                              Dieter was the first thing that came to mind when I first saw Sweet Genius. But I think that Ron Ben-Israel is even more entertaining.

                              For my money, he's actually the best character I've seen on TV for decades. Seriously. I freaking love his character. I find it hilarious that so many here take him seriously. Not that he's not a serious pastry chef--his work is amazing. But his character on the TV show is basically performance art; it's just so, so great. Kind of like a real-life Willy Wonka game show, where Willy is a villain . . .

                              1. Another thread links to a NYTimes article about The Chew, and other trends in Food TV.
                                The comparison to Dr Evil is not an illusion
                                "“Ron is the Dr. Evil of the food world,” said Bob Tuschman, an executive who has worked at the Food Network for 13 years. “He’s authoritative, commanding and somewhat frightening.”

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: paulj

                                  That sounds like copy ploy to garner interest in the show. I can't think Bob Tuschman would be terrified of anyone.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    so i was NOT crazy that they are promoting him like this!!!

                                    ha! well, i guess i should not take any credit, as the little mini-Mao outfit that he wears is pretty obvious -- notwithstanding his professional credentials.

                                    as to another dessert show, <sigh>.

                                    i am looking forward to cooking channel with the new chinese cooking show.. in san francisco? i hope it is good.

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      here is the evidence, as well.

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        close enough… -- i guess we should invoke the "six degrees of separation:" concept. LOL
                                        (now…just imagine kevin bacon in a mao jacket, dr. evil jacket, or sweet genius jacket. pick one…any one…).

                                      2. re: alkapal

                                        She's been on the cooking channel for a while, just not in SF.

                                      3. re: paulj

                                        He definitely is "commanding" and "frightening" but has his moments. Last week during the premiere party for his Sweet Genius show he was walking around with a basket of croissants on his arm being perfectly nice to everyone he passed.

                                      4. watching this now.

                                        with how bad this show actually is, he might just be worse than Dr Evil

                                        14 Replies
                                        1. re: mattstolz

                                          I caught it too...

                                          Somehow this show managed to be both simultaneously weird and boring.

                                          Hitting the gold layer cake like orb... The phallic symbol conveyor belt.... bizarro ingredients...

                                          Somehow it makes Chopped look like Masterpiece Theater.

                                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                              "simultaneously weird and boring"

                                              yup that pretty much nailed it.

                                              1. re: mattstolz

                                                perfect description! It was Chopped for desserts but not really very interesting.

                                              2. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                Bad, so much of it really bad--what's up with the computerized voice that describes what coffee beans are? There could be some substance to the show, it could be interesting to see what chefs do with last minute, odd surprise ingredients and a theme but this was all shlock-y, like they were trying to see how cheesy they could make it. And, Ben-Israel--ow, what a way to be introduced, as a live person, to the American public. I would have loved their toning the Food-Network factor down and having Jacques Torres as a judge.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  That's why I'm calling it "Chopped for Desserts" PLUS the "Minute to Win It" voice. That's the same voice they use on that silly Guy Fieri "Minute to Win It" game show...

                                                  Ben-Israel seems to have a very tender heart and I'm inclined to like him--he's obviously very well-respected--but he needs a better vehicle than this mess of a show.


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    i actually haven't seen the show, but i looked him up when i saw the promo.

                                                    i wonder how the food network is able to twist the arm of a man with an established good rep to become a parody of himself. it can't just be the money.

                                                    i'm being serious. how can the network persuade someone? do they mislead them in the beginning about the "show's theme and their role in it" and then "evolve" the show as the production develops? are they promised more "creative control" and then that is tweaked or diminished or focus-grouped?

                                                    i genuinely am curious about how the pitch goes.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        You would be shocked at what ego and money can persuade people to do. I'll bet there was remarkably little arm-twisting and persuading going on.

                                                        1. re: acgold7

                                                          Ruhlman in The Reach of a Chef talks about the 'branded chef' - chefs (and wabes) building on their fame with exposure in multiple venues. We are well past the time when a chef was famous for heading or owning just one restaurant.


                                                            1. re: smartie

                                                              While I never heard of him before, he apparently has done multiple TV interviews and appearances. It's easy to find promo clips on Youtube. Having glanced at those, I don't think this new show will hurt his brand.

                                                              A new WSJ article on Ron and his show
                                                              From this it sounds as though he really is interesting in promoting creativity via this competition. I still wonder what real pastry chefs think of the show, not us armchair ones.

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            I'm sure they didn't have to twist his arm for anything. Anyone who's spent time with the man knows he calls himself the "Queen of Cakes" and makes jokes like, "I'm not the best pastry chef in the world... or am I?"

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              Could be he is a really good sport and perhaps thought the premise fun?
                                                              I do like it, but then I'm twisted that way. ; 0

                                                    1. Too much gimmick not enough real genius.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        AMEN! Who cares how someone could incorporate gummy worms? That's just making people jump through pointless hoops for the sake of perversity. Why not make them cook while running on a treadmill instead? Or use cement mixers?

                                                        This is just more of why cooking shows as competition are dopey.

                                                        1. re: rainey

                                                          Using a cement mixer - that's already been done.
                                                          On the Monster Kitchen pilot, one team
                                                          " We’d make a mold in the shape of a donut, mix up the donut batter in a cement mixer, bake it in an industrial powder-coating oven, then fry it in a dumpster."
                                                          They didn't get to the frying part, because the dumpster was leaking oil.

                                                      2. Recorded this show because of Ron Ben Israel's reputation, then 1 minute into the show realized it was yet ANOTHER competition/elimination type of show. Promptly deleted.

                                                          1. The show had/has potential, but it's far too self-aware. Iron Chef America falls prey to the same trap, on occasion, but it's still all about the cooking and the food. Sweet Genius is not.

                                                            1. I finally caught one of the episodes...yes, the whole conveyor belt/Dr. Evil thing is gimmicky, the underlying premise has echoes of Chopped, but I honestly I think I there's potential here.

                                                              The "inspiration" is clever. It forces one to think outside the box. The last inspiration in the show I watched was "cat", and one of the pastry chefs initially wanted to use spun sugar as a garnish (cat = playing with yarn). It didn't work out, he thought of something else, and Ron Ben-Israel remarked that he should have stuck with the spun sugar. The hard-boiled egg in the first test was a bit trickier; "pearl in oyster" was the inspiration, and although using hard-boiled eggs as a dessert component is exceedingly difficult, the cheftestants really gave it their all.

                                                              Personally, I'm thrilled FN is finally paying attention to pastry. But then again I'm a baker ;)

                                                              1. I can't believe I watched the whole show, no more Foodnetwork for me. Nothing entertaining

                                                                1. I've only seen the commericals but instantly recognized him as the person I would cast in my live action "Thunderbirds" remake as "The Hood".


                                                                  1. watched the show tonight.
                                                                    I like it, husband says, ''oh not another cooking show, honey you're not a pasty chef..."
                                                                    there was a French gentleman that appeared to be the front runner. what talent.
                                                                    I like RBI, think he's intriguing.

                                                                    1. alkapal, this is killin me. I had watched only a snippet of the show until just last night, when in a bout of insomnia, somehow the telly got turned on and there he was. I watched two episodes in disbelief, and halfway through the first one, it hit me who he reminded me of. I was relieved. It explained why I kept looking around for Mini-me.
                                                                      "Youuuuuuuuuuuu are not...................ssssssssssssssssssssssweeeet geeeeeeeeeenius."

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                        Too funny, mamachef. I've yet to finish an entire show. More evil than genius for my sensibilites but the challenges are so over the top I just can't get behind it. A friend of mine adores the show.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          I'm most interested in the judging step. His comments give me another way of looking at desserts, usually more nuanced than the dessert phase on Chopped. On Chopped the desserts are more rushed, and the judging complaints are little more than 'its not cooked through' or 'its not sweet enough to be a dessert' (Amanda). I'd love to hear from other pastry chefs as to whether Dr Evil's comments are typical of how professionals judge each other's work.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            The only dramatic judging I have ever witnessed was in Vegas and the tv contestant shows appear to hold much of the same drama. So Sweet Genius fits the bill but the pastry chefs I've had the pleasure to learn from are not tv-dramatic.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              I wasn't thinking so much about the drama, as the content. I've seen international pastry competitions on TV, but all they show is the judges tasting and looking, and then making notes. We don't know what they are thinking. It's like a wine tasting without hearing comments about fruitiness, notes of banana or papaya, or bouquet.

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                Oh I see. Well, I suppose that's my issue with the show SG. It's the drama, the crazy camera shots and angles that take away from any chance I have of enjoying the content.

                                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                                              it's easy to see the appeal of his show from the point of view of the dessert makers who compete or would like to compete on the show. his critiques have a lot of instructional content -- and reveal he has an exceptional palate that can resist being overwhelmed by sweetness. there's also an element of art and fantasy in his aesthetic which informs his judgment and differentiates it from the 'panel of judges' format.

                                                                              1. re: moto

                                                                                Personally I watch this show when I'm in the mood to see someone else suffer. Had a bad day, hate the world - watch the poor contestents on Sweet Genius and revel in their misery. Delight in the fact that you have not been subjected to that level of misfortune piled on top of yet more misfortune.

                                                                                Chopped is kinder to its contestents in my opinion. I watch that to giggle, Sweet Genius requires the full-on evil laughter.

                                                                        2. Wow, I just had the weirdest experience with this show: Watched one episode and was put off by the host's artificial tone, goofy chefs, silly challenges. Bored last night and watched a second episode and found myself completely enraptured: Once you suspend a bit of disbelief, the challenges are really compelling in their limited scope and Chef Ron's blunt and bemused commentary is just fascinating. For the first time with a FN host, I found myself wanting to drop everything and become his disciple. Could Chef Ron be the messiah?

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                                            I'll start wearing a purple robe if you will . . .

                                                                          2. The guy is a freak. Please take this show off the air. It's the worst Food network Show yet.