Zumbo’s Just Desserts is like the Great British Baking Show but on acid. The Netflix show, set in Australia, uses Zumbo’s fanciful desserts as inspiration for baking challenges. Presumably, Zumbo is some sort of household name in the land down under. Since there are so many baking and cooking shows on TV it’s hard to be shocked by something innovative. The Great British Baking Show, Holiday Baking Challenge, Top Chef, Food Network Star and Chopped have all settled their own corner on the market. But, Zumbo’s Just Desserts has managed to craft something unique and different. The recipe for a Zumbo’s Just Desserts episode is as follows:
- 1 cup Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory
- 20 lbs of dry ice for dramatic effect
- A pinch of obscure Australian references
- Two heaping spoonful’s of slow motion photography
- Stir counterclockwise (Cause, Australia) till well mixed!
Zumbo embraces all things quirky and whimsical. The participant’s professions seem to embody this commitment to all things odd. Here are some of the amateur baker’s professions:
- Brogen (a stay at home mum)
- Michael (Brickie)
- Ashley (airline crewing)
- Wendy (art lover)
- Daniel (Bouncer)
- Peter (Car Salesman)
- Kate (No-nonsense Mum)
- Patricia (Eternal Optimist)
The bakers are a ragtag group of dessert-enthusiasts who say things like “I like the feel of flour on my skin” or seem slightly unhinged.
The show culminates with the Zumbo Test. The test, while tragically named, is perfectly designed. The bottom two contestants are given a dessert, created by Zumbo, to recreate. The dessert is presented under a dome veiled by dry ice clouds. The presentation is overly dramatic because the moment is dramatic. The bottom two contestants have to sweat under the lights for four hours while trying to imitate Zumbo’s masterpiece. The rest of the contestants get to sit for four hours and silently judge their competitors skills. It is deliciously satisfying to watch amateurs mimic the techniques of master Pastry chefs. The glorious catastrophe of watching regular people attempts gels, sablees, salted caramel curd, mirror glaze, and 1,000 other techniques is exactly what Zumbo’s Just Desserts is about.
In the end, the contestants made two mirror glazed raisins that looked like deflated examples of Zumbo’s creation. The end results are pitiful creations made with good intentions and inexperience.
Overall, Zumbo’s personality is bland, but what he lacks in personality he makes up in creativity, pizzazz and showmanship. Similarly, his contestants are amateur bakers, but what they lack in skills they make up in quirky personalities and determination.
It’s the best.