A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zumbo's Just Desserts is an imagination-fueled Australian baking competition show hosted by pâtissier Adriano Zumbo and British cook and author Rachel Khoo. Amateur bakers compete in fantastical baking challenges for the ultimate prize of $100,000 and the opportunity to have one of their desserts featured in Zumbo's stores. The show will be an education in common and obscure baking terms and concepts (aerate, temper, crèmeux, etc.) for youngsters, with positive messages about dedication, handling pressure, and learning from setbacks. As judges, Zumbo and Khoo offer constructive feedback to the contestants, who then apply the advice in their next creations, modeling the important life skill of accepting and incorporating feedback. Contestants are generally kind and supportive of one another.
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What's the story?
In ZUMBO'S JUST DESSERTS, amateur bakers from all over Australia come together to compete for a grand prize of $100,000 and having one of their desserts featured in host Adriano Zumbo's stores. There are two timed rounds in each episode. The Sweet Sensations tasks have bakers create their own dessert based on a theme like a romance-inspired or a cake kids will love. The two bakers who present the worst desserts then compete against one another in a scored elimination round called the Zumbo Test. In this round, they must attempt to recreate one of Zumbo's complex desserts. The baker with the lowest score is sent home. The dessert preparation in both rounds is broken up by confessionals – cutaways to individual contestants who provide reflections on the action. The final episodes of each season shake up this format and bring in special guests to cheer on the bakers as they strive for the grand prize.
Is it any good?
The fantasy setting, drool-worthy desserts, and gripping suspense of this Aussie baking competition will win over fans of the genre. Zumbo's Just Desserts is set in a cavernous, technicolored hall with a Willy Wonka aesthetic called the dessert factory and it intends to wow. The Harry Potter score provides a soundtrack to slowed down sequences of billowing steam, creamy liquid chocolate being poured and tempered, and ingredients being gently folded into batters, adding to the magic and drama. While the Sweet Sensations tasks play to the baker's strengths, the Zumbo test is a mighty challenge full of tension and emotion. After a theatrical, dry-ice fueled reveal, bakers gasp at the impossibly constructed dessert. The two unlucky contestants toil through the test, and viewers will agonize right along with them. The judges provide detailed feedback and it's a joy to watch the bakers who don't get eliminated grow their talent over time. The judges' personalities are, admittedly, a bit lackluster, but the show is otherwise so satisfying that many viewers won't much care. The refreshing absence of nastiness between contestants means even younger kids can watch, so it's a great pick for the whole family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the contestants on Zumbo's Just Desserts handle the pressure of creating a dessert in a set amount of time. How, and what, do they prioritize (taste, creativity, presentation, etc.)? What are the different ways they deal with mistakes? What do you do when you make a mistake?
Talk about the ways the contestants show support for one another? Does it surprise you that they are supportive of one another even though they are competing against one another? Why or why not? How do you show support when you are competing?
What makes this show different from other baking competition shows you have seen? If you were to design your own cooking show, what would you include?
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