Breaking Molds and Bending Chocolate
Make It Ooze
Chocolate Hanging By A Thread
Give Me Some Sugar
The Best In Class is…
Most culinary chefs will tell you chocolate is notoriously difficult to work with. Chefs around the world have slipped up using this tricky ingredient, which makes seeing these grand structures made of chocolate all the more impressive. Those in the UK may remember Choccywoccydoodah, before it went out of business in 2019, but their cakes were magnificent (albeit very expensive!)
School of Chocolate then is Netflix’s latest reality series, taking 8 talented pastry and chocolate professionals and throwing them into a pressure-cooker competition.
There’s $50,000 on the line for the winner, and the chance to teach an International masterclass at a Pastry Academy in Las Vegas. There’s also a third surprise too, but I’ll keep that a secret until you reach the finale!
Each episode is essentially broken up into two tasks, although there are a few episodes that end on cliffhangers – especially when a centerpiece collapses or tumbles.
The first challenge is all to do with pastry, and the professionals work individually to come up with the best pieces. Instead of being eliminated, the person who finishes last gets a one on one session with the host and narrator, Amaury Guichon. To put it simply, this guy is a chocolate genius. The aim here is not to knock people out but instead to help hone their skills and come back stronger the next week. It’s a nice idea but it does lose some of that initial drama that’s built up with elimination-rounds.
The top 2 from the pastry competition (most of the time anyway) are then made team leaders for an extravagant chocolate showpiece challenge.
The set-up is simple but with no eliminations, much of the drama here stems from tension between competitors, which does feel a little contrived from time to time – especially when you see how often these guys cry across the season. I have absolutely nothing getting emotional but here it just feels a bit contrived, especially as these guys aren’t going home.
The other problem comes from the chosen winners on some challenges. Now, I’m no expert with chocolate but choosing a few centerpieces that aren’t actually finished, or happen to be broken in pieces, leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth.
Having said that, the feedback that Amaury gives is helpful, insightful and incredibly intelligent. There’s some real thought put into this to never put down any of the students – that’s left for the competitors to do amongst themselves!
School Of Chocolate is a fun watch though but the lack of eliminations loses the edge other powerhouse shows like The Great British Bake-Off handle so well. Seeing the big centerpieces and different dishes is ultimately what will keep you watching, but there’s certainly a few flaws along the way. Did the right person win at the end? Well, you’ll have to be the judge of that!
Verdict - 7.5/10