Sunday, September 28, 2014

Delicious duels in 'Donut Showdown'

(Sept. 18, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Plucky pastry chefs clash in the weekly half-hour program “Donut Showdown,” a reality tilt where the creativity in conjuring up visually appealing and delectable desserts is highlighted.

Three chefs, who may also be business owners from North America, are pitted against each other for a $10,000 cash prize per episode. The contestants put their diverse cooking influences to the test, and must come up with a uniquely flavored batch of donuts from provided “mystery ingredients” after 45 minutes.

One contestant whose donut creation doesn’t impress the trio of dessert expert judges gets the boot, leaving the two remaining donut-makers to come up with three new creations—based on a given theme—for the last tough round.

Donut Showdown’s contestants usually are an eclectic group of personalities; each contestant is helped by a coworker/assistant during the preparation/baking process. Sometimes,

contestants get to trash-talk during the “interview” bits interspersed with the contest proper—it doesn’t really affect their ultimate standing, but they do make them somewhat interesting, even entertaining subjects.

One episode tested two competitors, who must make pastries with the theme “Bollywood” in mind. A young chef, who previously lived in India, created colorful, flavorful, vegan-friendly delights inspired by his familiarity with the culture, and his time in the country. His older competitor, the smug but focused type, created donuts inspired by his perception of Bollywood, hence the caramel popcorn toppings, and similarly playful designs. He wanted them to be “sexy, like a character in a Bollywood film.”

It was a tight competition, but the older, more experienced guy won, after a lively deliberation—some judges liked one’s presentation over the other’s, and so on. The winner was lauded for his imagination, which enabled him to whip up more mouthwatering confections.

Other episodes are just as consistently playful, steadily focusing on the awe-inspiring talents of cooking geniuses and their near-countless takes on the tasty treat.

(Back-to-back episodes of “Donut Showdown” air Sundays, 9 p.m. on 2nd Avenue.)

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