Sweet Genius premiered on Food Network this fall, putting Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel in the forefront as the host of this whimsical pastry show. The premise of this show to test the inventive ability and imagination of America‘s Up and Coming Pastry Chefs. Each round the chefs are given an inspiration, surprise ingredients, and a certain amount of time to create a dessert. The rounds consist of making a frozen, baked, and chocolate dessert with the oddest ingredients like cheese puffs, black garlic which pushes the chefs to think widely outside their comfort zone. The winners from each challenge advance to the next round, the winning chef receives a $10,000 cash prize and crowned Sweet Genius.
I was given the opportunity to speak to America’s Sweet Genius and Wedding Cake Extraordinaire, Ron Ben-Israel, check out my behind the scenes interview with him.
Urban Foodie: How did you get into baking and who was your inspiration?
Ron Ben-Israel: My mother as well as family and friends introduced to many desserts in Europe. I developed my first love then.
UF: Did you always to become a pastry chef?
RBI: I attended an art school for drawing and sculpting actually, which later turned into dance. I practiced modern dance for about 15 years but it wasn’t until I traveled to Toronto, Canada where I fell in love with a Chocolatier who introduced me to it. Since then it was no turning back, which at the time I decided to hang up my shoes and retire at the age of 30 to pursue my new found passion full-time.
UF: How did your pastry career begin?
RBI: It began by me interning at several different bake shops, learning from the bottom up. I later met Betty Van Norstrand, known as the “Queen of Decorating”, who specialized in cake decorating and sugar art. She took me under her wing and became my mentor in which I owe many credits to. I was always fascinated by her art and she told me to find my own way of doing things.
SOHO Wedding Cake Boutique
UF: You’re wedding cake boutique is referred as the Manolo Blanc of Wedding Cakes. What do you think makes your boutique stand out from so many others?
RBI: Well at the time I started out, I was the “new kid on the block”. I was rebellious to the standardized techniques of how all cakes were being designed. Techniques such as basket weaves and icing festoons were done to excess,while I wanted to decorate with confectionery lace that matches the bridal dress.
UF: What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
RBI: Every day and every week is an achievement for me. We’re always so busy.
UF: When are you the busiest throughout the year?
RBI: We work 365 days a year, our busiest wedding season is September through November and April through July. We also do event as well as special occasion cakes that keeps us busy during the meanwhile.
UF: I love your show, it’s very inventive and whimsical, what do you think sets your show apart from shows such as Chopped or Iron Chef?
RBI: Sweet Genius is strictly pastry, no panels of judges, and very inspiring to other pastry chefs.
UF: What do you hope your viewers get out this show?
RBI: I think the premise of this show, is simply for the pastry chefs be inspired to make and do whatever comes from their imagination.
UF: Ron, with my strong pastry background you have inspired me to possibly jump back into the kitchen. If I were to consider being on the show or any other pastry chefs that might be interested, how would we sign up?
RBI: Be inspired, that would be great! Go to sweetgeniuscasting.com
UF: Thank you for time Ron, its been a pleasure!
It was a pleasure speaking with Ron, he is great guy and down-to-earth as well. He was the middle of making a cake for 550 guests with very specific flowers, as he makes most the cakes his self .
Photo Credits: Ron Ben-Israel Cakes
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