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Dessert Masters judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon (Photo: TVNZ)
Dessert Masters judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon (Photo: TVNZ)

Pop CultureDecember 12, 2023

The Olympics of pudding: Masterchef’s Dessert Masters hits the sweet spot

Dessert Masters judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon (Photo: TVNZ)
Dessert Masters judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon (Photo: TVNZ)

Tara Ward watches new reality show Masterchef: Dessert Masters and discovers a true feast for the eyes. 

What’s all this then?

Masterchef: Dessert Masters is the new spinoff of Masterchef Australia, the reality TV behemoth that sees amateur chefs try to cook their way to gastronomical glory. But rather than whipping up a winning roast pork belly or fried eggplant, Dessert Masters is all about the most important meal of the day: dessert. 

Ten of Australia’s best pastry chefs, chocolatiers and baking experts will compete to win the Dessert Masters trophy and $100,000 prize, with their efforts judged by former Masterchef Australia judge Melissa Leong and renowned French pastry chef Amaury Guichon. He’s the star of Netflix series School of Chocolate, and is famous for his incredible (and kind of rude?) edible sculptures. 

What’s good

Although Dessert Masters is a new series, there’s a welcoming air of familiarity about it. The show is set in the Masterchef kitchen and reality TV fans will already know several of the contestants, including previous Masterchef Australia contestants Reynold Poernomo and Jess Liemantara. There’s also award-winning chef Anna Polyviou, who appeared on I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here Australia last season, as well as Adriano Zumbo, who like judge Guichon, has his own baking show on Netflix.

The chefs competing in Dessert Masters (Photo: TVNZ)

These chefs are already extremely successful in their industry, and they’re here to showcase their talent in the Dessert Masters kitchen. Expectations are high and reputations are on the line, which is reflected in the difficulty of the challenges. Chefs will be asked to make dishes inspired by nature, dishes that aren’t what they seem, dishes that are designed to be smashed. Dessert Masters is about making food that isn’t just delicious to eat, but an interactive experience to be savoured and celebrated. 

So, welcome to the Olympics for pudding. The stakes for the first challenge are huge, with the winner earning the only immunity pin of the season that will protect them from elimination until the semifinal. Despite their experience and skills, it’s refreshing to see these chefs go through the same nerves and self-doubt as any amateur Masterchef competitor, and there’s plenty of tension to keep us watching. Zumbo decides to make a dessert he’s never made before – absolute scenes – while Chef Morgan watches his entire dish accidentally go up in flames with only 10 minutes left in the challenge.  

But it’s when the dishes are served that Dessert Masters really becomes a feast for the eyes. There’s never been a prettier show to watch while you’re sitting at home having toast for tea for the third night this week. Every dessert is a work of art, a sumptuous creation of colour, texture and delicate beauty. 

These geniuses turn salads into desserts, they make yoghurt mousse out of sheep milk, and even the French chef drops an impressed “ooh la la” at the sight of one particularly “sexy cake”. While I didn’t understand most of the things they made (a bird’s nest out of mooncake skins?! a blackberry sugar tuile with lemon myrtle oil?!), it seems that if you say something in a French accent, it always sounds much classier. 

Dessert Masters judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon (Photo: TVNZ)

Dessert Masters is a serious competition, but there’s no shortage of good vibes as the chefs celebrate each other’s successes and commiserate over their mistakes. There’s a lot of respect in this kitchen and no villain to be found, which makes Dessert Masters one of the more wholesome reality shows out there. There’s still the mad Masterchef scramble in the pantry at the start of each challenge, but with only one task in each episode, the show feels well paced. Plus, there’s much more of a focus on the food itself, rather than the background stories of each of the chefs, which avoids the show dragging on. 

Verdict: Yum / watch it. Dessert Masters is deliciously more niche than Masterchef, but slicker than Bake Off. It celebrates the creativity and ingenuity of Australia’s best dessert chefs, and it’s an easy, family friendly watch. Just don’t watch it on an empty stomach. 

Masterchef: Dessert Masters screens Monday to Wednesday at 7.30pm on TVNZ2 and streams on TVNZ+. 

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