Review: Sugar High

I have said it more than once.  I’m tired of dessert oriented shows.  I know that a lot of people dig them but for a savory guy they just don’t cut the mustard.  As humorous and charming as Adam Gertler is I really can’t get into Kid in a Candy Store.  I love Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats but it’s spin-off Unique Sweets bores me.  The same for Top Chef  and Top Chef: Just Desserts.  And don’t get me started on Cupcake Wars (worst show on TV).

Sugar High DuffThe one dessert show that I did like was Ace of Cakes which wrapped production last winter.  Let’s face it, Ace was the best and everything that’s come out since is trying to capture the magic at Charmed City Cakes.  But I didn’t dig Ace because of the mind-boggling cake sculptures, although they were cool, I liked it because of the staff at the bakery.  They were very interesting and funny people, devoid of onscreen drama.  Especially the adorable Katherine Hill. Purrrrr.

When a friend at the Network hipped me that Duff had a new show coming out I approached it with mixed feelings.  I, like most Food Network viewers, like Duff a lot.  He is one of the most recognizable stars in the food TV universe and one of the most likeable as well.  But at the same time it was sure to be just another dessert show.  Duff is great but it was his interaction with his staff that made Ace so much fun.

Imagine my surprise when I watched the premiere.  Duff makes an extremely good food/travel host.  It was still Duff, but there is a polish and professionalism to his voice-over narrative that makes him exceedingly approachable.  It isn’t silly nor over the top.  All of the voice-over work is so good it makes me wonder why he hasn’t made a career out of documentaries and commercials.  The voice was Duff, but then again it was someone new.

Then came the interaction with each featured vendor.  There was the old Duff. The joking, the crazy laugh, the quirky sense of humor; it was all there.  So now we have the best of both worlds.  The new, mature host Duff and the old, playful, cake blower-upper Duff.  What a terrific blend.

But what about the content?  It’s still just dessert right, glorified bowls of sugar?  Not for me it wasn’t.  The producers have done a great job of lining up vendors with personalities that compliment the host’s.  It made me care about desserts.  In fact, I’m adding Venice Beach’s Schulzies Bread Pudding to my “must do” list on my next trip to LA.

108 bread puddings?  Are you kidding me?  To me bread pudding is the perfect dessert food.  It can taste like whatever your favorite desserts is.  It’s easy as all get out to make, makes use of left-over ingredients (gotta watch that food cost) and it has tradition.  It has all of the things people look for in a great dessert – complexity of flavor, contrasting textures and luxury that can only come from sugar and saturated fat.  If you ever see me on a reality cooking competition you can bet my dessert course will be breading pudding.  Or Key lime pie.

Okay, back on topic.  I cannot believe how enjoyable I found the show.  Would I like it better if it were Ribeye High?  Probably, I never get tired of seeing a perfectly cooked medium-rare piece of meat,  That being said, I’ll be tuning back in to Sugar High and for me that’s high praise, especially for a dessert show.

Sugar High airs Fridays at at 10:30pm/9:30c on the Food Network.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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