'Sweet Genius' Ron Ben-Israel: 'The public can love me and hate me but cannot ignore me'
He had a great business on the top floor of an old building in SoHo, taught class at the French Culinary Institute and made occasional guest appearances on TV.
Then the Food Network put him in "Sweet Genius," in which pastry chefs must create fab desserts out of unusual ingredients. Now the former modern dancer from Israel is stopped on the street and asked for his autograph
"It seems like forever," he tells Zap2it. "It has only been 13 months."
"It became such a part of my life, but it is relatively new," Ben-Israel says. "I did not know much about TV except going on to make cakes or sugar techniques.
"Being in the forefront, the public can love me and hate me but cannot ignore me now," he continues.
Ben-Israel is the sole arbiter of who wins, but he collaborates with the show's producers on challenges.
In the Thursday, Jan. 3, episode, "Electrifying Genius," the chefs must make a dessert related to the electric guitar; the main ingredient is fruit cereal. In the second challenge, they have to use a strawberry drink and a yellow pepper.
That anyone can create anything but stomachaches with such ingredients is a marvel.
"In every show there are some people I like," Ben-Israel says. "I actually ask them for recipes, so there is always something. It is never only one component, and the cake and the frosting and the filling and the shape. I take notes, and sometimes I end up having two great people, and I have to decide which one will get the title, and it is hard. I want to give it to both. And sometimes, I want to send everybody home, and they really upset me -- not coming up with anything exciting."