Ron Ben-Israel Talks Season Two of Sweet Genius

by in Shows, March 15th, 2012


As the host of Sweet Genius, the sugar-packed competition series in which four chefs bake their hearts out for a chance to earn $10,000, it is master pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel’s job to maintain a stoic and, at times, intimidating persona. In the second season of the show, viewers can expect much of the same from the Sweet Genius, though they also will get to know Ron the person and find out why he’s so enthusiastic about pastry. I caught up with Ron at his welcoming New York City bakery, and we chatted about the show over cake and tea.

Comparing the previous season to the upcoming one, Ron explained, “We featured a certain angle — a little bit of a Dr. Evil. The idea was that the chefs would be very scared — as they should be, because for $10,000, you better be scared — and we kept it. Some people loved it, and some people hated it. But a lot of what makes me funny, what makes me excited was not seen. In the second season, you definitely see what makes me passionate and what makes me upset.” New episodes will show that Ron is as quick to dismiss the contestants’ creations as he is to praise them. “When something was great, I really loved it. But when something was not so good, I told them if they were wasting their time,” he said.

Those moments of high achievement and unfortunate struggle will be featured in greater lengths this season and allow viewers to learn more about the chefs and their culinary histories and to form relationships with them, much like Ron does. “Emotionally, the show is really out there. I don’t know what it was, but I felt that I really connected with the chefs. They were very expressive with their feelings,” he said. “People who worked together were competing against each other. You had people who went to school together. There was a lot of camaraderie and help, but it is also a competition, and $10,000 is at stake based on one day’s work.” With such personal relationships being tested, it is no surprise that while on set, Ron found himself asking the question, “Who is going to cry today?”

Sharing a bit of insider information, Ron revealed that the second season of Sweet Genius will feature a change in the way the competition is played. No longer will chefs be forced to create icy treats in the daunting, clock-challenging Frozen round. Instead, competitors must fashion candy concoctions, in addition to chocolate and baked goods. “The reason we wanted to do candy,” he dished, “is because it’s a whole new world. Candy could be a lollipop, but it could be a candied fruit, it could be a bonbon, it could be anything. Make sugar made of chocolate, made of fruit, made of nuts.”

Whether the chefs are tasked with preparing candy, chocolate or baked pieces, Chef Ron noted that the inspiration to craft sugary creations is quite endless. He has found that to be true not only in the Sweet Genius arena, but in his professional baking career as well, which focuses primarily on multi-tier wedding cakes that are as extravagant and exquisitely decorated as they are moist and tasty.

Tune in to Food Network on Thursday, March 15 at 10pm/9c to catch the second season premiere of Sweet Genius.

To learn more about Ron Ben-Israel, visit his bakery’s website or find Sweet Genius on Facebook.

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Comments (42)

  1. valerie says:

    ooooh, that looks stunning. I'm craving for cake now, in addition, you tickled a little curiosity in me that wants to go for pastry classes. :)

  2. Tamtam23 says:

    Great show. I'm glad its back on. Ron is one of the most talented artists in the business. Go to his webiste and start dreaming about eating his creations morning, noon and night. Go Chef…

  3. Murch says:

    Chef Ron is the real deal, and his show is great. Adding another judge would just dilute what they're trying to accomplush with the show. My only critique is that $10,000 isn't enough money for people to appear on the show. The chefs who compete run the risk of losing thousands upon thousands of dollars in revenue and lost job opportunities if they do not win. Who wants to buy a cake from somone who lost on "Sweet Genius"? If you go on "Jeopardy" and lose, no one will think that you can't do your job, but if you're a baker and you lose on "Sweet Genius" it can be a very different story.

    • Brenda says:

      My thought about this is, they don't have to compete. I think they already have such a high degree of success, it wouldn't affect their careers that much. They might just of had an off-day- that day. Others maybe trying to achieve some kind of notoriety.

      • Murch says:

        The thing is, if you're already successful, why would you go on "Sweet Genius" or even "CHOPPED"? The risk/reward ratio is skewed too far to "risk." A contestant on "Wheel of Fortune" could win $10,000 dollars in a couple of spins. The end result is you get the new, inexperienced pastry chefs coming on the show and trying to make a name for themselves. The producers probably spend more than $10,000 on the ingredients and lighting for the show. It is really bad on "Cupcake Wars" where contestants must endure personal attacks ("last epsiode a judge said a contestant was "cowardly") along with scathing criticism. $10,000 dollars isn't worth all that.

        • Brenda says:

          Successful as in the jobs they are currently doing (according to their profile) at the beginning of the show. Others competing seem more inexperienced to me. I think the "Sweet Genius" title would only enhance their careers. Some of them not getting the title, crank-out some fabulous work. The good thing about Ron Ben-Israel is giving-out constructive criticism. Building up not tearing down…Yet able to show the problems within their dishes. I agree, all are trying to further their careers. Sounds like you have your ideas and I have mine, but that makes it interesting. I don't watch "Cupcake Wars" but no, personal attacks are very uncalled for. I've never heard of being cowardly over a cupcake. Who knew.

        • zzzz says:

          Sure you right, especially on Cupcake Wars. Alot of the people on the show talk about opening a storefront, but what kind of storefront can you open for 10,000 dollars? Yeah, that woman who lost in the second round of the rodeo cupcake wars was emotionally devastated. I felt bad for her.

          • Brenda says:

            They don't have to compete. Also, if money is an issue then I'm sure they would go to bat for themselves to "Up the Ante." After all they are adults and have made it thus far. Not sure about the emotionally devastated part. It's only a show for entertainment value. However, I understand feeling sorry for someone. No further comment.

    • drg says:

      Yes, $10,000 isn't much money these days. If you don't win it could come back to haunt you. Potential employers search the web for info on the people they're thinking about hiring. $10,000 isn't life-changing money. You can pay a few bills, maybe take a vacation. That's it. FN makes a lot of money from these shows.

  4. Candy says:

    Chef Ron Ben-Israel…your personality is peeking out this time, like the sunshine behind a cloud. Genius!

  5. S F C says:

    I love Ron's creations, I believe there are incredibly beautiful. I don't think he's evil; just honest if it's not good enough he will tell up front.

  6. Louise says:

    I was not a huge fan of the first season as I thought the host was a bit harsh and Sweet Genius not an enjoyable show to view. I prefer this new season now that Ron is more engaging making the show more fun and engaging to watch. Keep up the good work – I am hooked!

    • Nancy says:

      I AGREE!!! He is MUCH MORE FRIENDLIER!!! I think this season is more entertaining to watch!!! He seems not as stiff as he was last year!!! He has a personality and is kind of cute!!! IN A WAY!!! I like his show better than that jerk Guy!!! Diner Drive-Ins and Dives. He doesn't shut UP!!!

  7. Gina says:

    This guy is creepy and gross, and I can't even stand to see the previews to his show. He makes my skin crawl. I really hope the show doesn't ladst.

  8. Windy says:

    This is the first year I saw "Sweet Genius" . Was it on in the past? It's in reruns already after only a dozen shows or less. I love the show and I think Ron is marvelous,serious and fair, unlike that bunch on "Cake Walk" ! I think that cake he's holding is just about the most beautiful cake I've even seen , outside my daughter's wedding cake. The ONE thing I don't like is Ron sporting a beard. Makes him look old and tattered !

  9. Tracie says:

    I've hear such high praise of Chef Ron's abilities, but I haven't seen him on any shows performing his wonders (maybe I've just missed it somewhere). I have seen him on other shows though, but not making desserts. I'm requesting to see him showing his skill sometime. That would be so interesting. Thanks.

  10. romario wallace says:

    they look good

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