Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bravo aims to take the cake with new 'Top Chef: Just Desserts'

If it's anything like the original, Bravo's new 'Top Chef: Just Desserts' will be more tart than sweet - and that's a good thing. If it's anything like the original, Bravo's new 'Top Chef: Just Desserts' will be more tart than sweet - and that's a good thing.

Life is about to get sweeter for "Top Chef" fans.

Bravo announced a new series Monday that will take the "Top Chef" formula and turn it into a competition for the spun-sugar and pastry flour set.

The spin-off, "Top Chef: Just Desserts," will premiere in 2010 with the same basic structure of the hit on which it's based. An undisclosed number of contestants will live together and compete in various challenges under the supervision of judges and a host, complete with quickfire challenges and eliminations.

The sweet tooths who will fill the host and judge roles have yet to be announced.

Casting calls for the dessert themed show get underway Monday October 26 in Chicago, Bravo announced, in most of the same locations where "Top Chef" season 7 hopefuls can attempt to impress with their culinary resumes and best TV personalities, since they don't actually cook at the tryouts.

New Yorkers who harbor dreams of sauteing, basting or baking their way to reality TV fame, on either the dessert-themed spin-off or the original, will have their chance at Craftsteak on Sunday November 8.

"Just Desserts" arrives amidst plenty of competition, including TLC's "Cake Boss," which has its season premiere Monday night at 10 p.m., and the Food Network's "Ace of Cakes."

The Bravo show was inspired in part by the difficulty that desserts have posed for "Top Chef" cooks, Frances Berwick, Bravo's vice president and general manager told Variety.

"Their Achilles heel is usually the desserts," Berwick said of the "Top Chef" contestants. "As this has gone on, we've been thinking that it would be fun to do a 'Top Chef' with experienced pastry chefs. We've had a few pastry chefs on 'Top Chef,' but they haven't gone too far. It's just a different skill."

With "Top Chef: Just Desserts" and the recently renewed "Top Chef Masters," which puts established chefs head-to-head in cook-off competitions for charity, the network hopes "Top Chef" will become a year-round presence.

"There is a phenomenon going on right now, where people are very interested in the cooking space," Berwick told Variety. "I have to believe this is recession-related. People are enjoying the experience of cooking at home, because it's cheaper than going out. We're building off that phenomenon."

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