Netflix is not new to the cooking competition party; this is where a lot of the platform’s less polarizing content resides. What makes the forage-focused Crazy Delicious stand out among the competition surplus is the level where these self-taught aspiring chefs deliver round after round. The stakes are high: Whoever is able to please the ominous Food Gods walks away with the culinary Holy Grail, The Golden Apple. Imagine every delectably described book delicacy brought to life and served in new and imaginative ways, ripe for picking over—that’s Crazy Delicious.
The formatting of this competition show is on-brand with other series in the genre. Three eager contestants enter a culinary utopia, surrounded by a garden where almost everything is edible. They’re introduced to comedian Jayde Adams, who has a refreshing presence as host; where most cooking show hosts are incredibly upbeat and saccharine, Adams’ down-to-earth, tongue-in-cheek rapport with the contestants brings additional levity to a whimsical environment. American audiences may have to trudge through dry British humor to find the gems, but they are worth searching for.
Adams, who maintains delicious commentary and moral support for the amateur chefs (while tasting around the garden), is joined by the Food Gods. Perched above the chaos below, they hand down judgments to the contestants, triggering honors-kid anxiety to the admitted perfectionists in the group. The Food Gods are made up of culinary heavy hitters: Carla Hall, soul food chef extraordinaire; British chef Heston Blumenthal, whose restaurant, Dinner With Heston, has been dubbed one of the World’s Best Restaurants; and Michelin star chef Niklas Ekstedt. The three make formidable but empathetic judges, taking their time to respond to contestants, which wears on the waiting chefs and the watching audience in turn. Their critiques allow for growth in the following rounds. What’s also refreshing is the frequency at which the judges interact with the contestants—one judge comes down each round, asks questions of each chef, tastes their concoctions, and gives sage advice (that is not always followed).
In three rounds, the contestants must “go forth and forage” in the enchanted garden to find items to bring the challenge to delightful fruition. The first challenge, aptly titled “The Magic Ingredient,” directs the competitors to take a specific ingredient decided upon by the Food Gods and prominently incorporate it into a dish (a food show staple setup). The winner of this round is blessed with an extra 10 minutes in the second round, so the stakes are high as the risks of elimination increase. Unfortunately, the show hits a few snags in the moves between rounds, as the pacing tends to falter—despite the gorgeous setting, you could find your attention drifting away.
Round two, designated “The Reinvention,” requires the contestants to take casual dining staples—pizza, burgers—and conceptualize them in a new and innovative way. The contestants either take feedback from the first round and apply it generously, or their egos ramp up and the audience is left cringing at the mistakes and/or time wasted. After completing this round, only two hopefuls make their way to “The Final Feast.” The feasts chosen fit this eccentric setting, and the results are grandiose (like a jerk-marinated grilled watermelon). There are only four hours to bring the feast to realization, and once that’s over, the judges declare a victor, who walks away with the Golden Apple.
Of course, there are a few missing ingredients: In addition to the pacing issues, the show’s music doesn’t feel majestic enough to truly complement Crazy Delicious’ enchanted garden setting. But the diverse group of contestants adds freshness to the cooking competition landscape, as does the series’ magical setting and inventive culinary offerings. Cooking shows are abundant, but Crazy Delicious is the pick of the bunch.