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Sweet Genius is a competition show on Food Network, in the style of Iron Chef and Chopped. Master pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel, an internationally recognized expert on pastries, is the host who presents a challenge to four dessert chefs. The competing chefs get three rounds -- Frozen, Baked and Chocolate (for season 1) or Chocolate, Candy, and Cake (season 2) -- to wow Ben-Israel and show they are truly sweet geniuses. To make the challenge more difficult, they are also presented with a "bewildering" inspiration and two to three unusual mandatory ingredients. The first mandatory ingredient and the inspiration come just before the round starts, Chopped-style. The 2nd (and 3rd in certain cases) ingredients are then introduced one at a time throughout the prep, forcing the chefs to adjust their dessert on the fly. If they win, they receive Chef Ron's recognition as a sweet genius and $10,000. If they fail... well, they are no sweet genius.

Tropes used in Sweet Genius include:

  • Berserk Button: Chef Ron has some dislikes and pet peeves that contestants in future seasons should take into account.
    • Too much blue food coloring. Chef Ron has stated that as there are no natural blue foods in existance, blue is just plain artificial, and too much blue food coloring can taste metallic.
    • American buttercream. It's made with powdered confectioners sugar, which does not dissipate, leaving an unpleasant texture in the cream.
    • Putting inedible things on the plates.
  • Brand X: Certain ingredients get this treatment, like "fruit flavored candies" for "Skittles."
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Chef Ron Ben-Israel is rather kooky and eccentric, but it does not take away from his pastry expertise and great palate.
    • Season 2 competitor Ashley Betito certainly counted as one, as she'd just up and go off on wild fantasies at any given time. This actually helped her by being inventive, and Chef Ron praised her imaginative approach to desserts.
  • Cooking Show
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Mostly averted due to the contestants' expertise in desserts, despite some of the ingredients they must use, like bone marrow.
  • Elimination Catchphrase: "In this round, you were no Sweet Genius."
  • Epic Fail: Some contestants tend to fall into this, whether it be because their confections did not cook/bake/froze properly, time got away from them, or just for sheer stupidity.
    • In a season 1 frozen dessert challenge, the inspiration was butterflies, presented as fake butterflies poised on a cage. A chef took his time during the round, and it cost him so badly that he only plated a bit of his ice cream, and decided to actually coat the whisk attachment of the mixer in cream and plate it to "represent the butterfly cage". Needless to say, Chef Ron declared his dish a disaster and eliminated him.
    • In another season 1 frozen dessert round, a contestant decided to bake a pie and just put it in the fridge for a couple of minutes, thinking this counted as "frozen". The real doozy comes with dealing with the inspiration, a bonsai tree. Not knowing how to use it as inspiration for his dish, he decides to just chop off parts of it and place them on top of his pie. Not only did Chef Ron declare his dish a disaster, he was quite upset at the chef's disrespect for the people who've worked on the bonsai tree for so long.
  • Everything's Better with Chocolate: The final round is chocolate for every episode in season 1. The first round for season 2.
  • Food Porn
  • Genius' Sweet Tooth: Ron Ben-Israel certainly acts as if this is the case, and some contestants agree that he is a genius in the pastry world.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: One of the ingredients in a chocolate round was bone marrow, and Ben-Israel liked both desserts created using it.
    • Also happens when chefs are given a mandatory ingredient that is either gross or is just not used for desserts, and they can make it work and make it delicious. One chef managed to make a dessert that Chef Ron declared flawless, and it had lobster in it.
  • Jerkass: The one chef who chopped off a bonsai tree used as inspiration to put the little branches on top of his dessert. Not taking into account how monumentally stupid this was, when Chef Ron calls him out on disrespecting the people who've put so many years of dedication to the bonsai tree, the guy sees absolutely nothing wrong with what he did and is completely indifferent about it.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: In a season 2 episode, Rubik's Cube was the inspiration for a candy test. One chef proceeded to make an exact replica of the cube using Isomalt and fruit-flavored candies. She finished the round with a completed Rubik's Cube, but on the transition to Ron's table, the cube falls, breaking the whole candy. Worse, Chef Ron says that Isomalt doesn't have natural acidity that sugar has, so the cube that he was able to taste ended up tasting very weird. He also said that isomalt does not melt like sugar does, thus making her dessert so hard and difficult to eat that it was pretty much inedible.
  • Reality Show
  • Schmuck Bait: Prepared ingredients in the pantry, such as pastry dough. Use them at your own peril, as it instantly earns you a demerit for taking the easy way out.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Happened a few times in the final rounds.
  • The Voice: Was certainly the case for providing information about food and inspiration in season 1. For Season 2, this was removed in favor of Ron providing information about the mandatory ingredient and the inspiration, as well as doing commentary.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: A season 2 episode has an albino python as inspiration for the chocolate test. Two chefs were terrified of it, and while one hid it well, the other one was extremely nervous throughout the whole round and later stated that her phobia of snakes came from having been bitten by a rattlesnake before.
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