The judges, host, and Golden Apple of Netflix's Crazy Delicious.

Crazy Delicious

Dept. of Heavenly Delights


I really can’t help myself. Reality television, especially cooking competitions, lure me in like a moth to a flame. The Great British Bake Off, Masterchef, Top Chef, along with their many spinoffs, have become very much a staple in my pop culture diet. They’re not quite an addiction. They’re more of a fascination. One that began, for me at least, in the early 2000s with Iron Chef.

The idea of cooking being a stadium sport, with drama, suspense, even live commentary, was something only the Japanese could dream up. Needless to say it blew my mind. This was nothing like the tepid stylings of British and American cooking shows. This was entertainment. One part skill, one part theatre, it felt like someone had taken the idea of a cooking contest and fused it with the WWE.

Iron Chef would start a trend. Where speed, theatrics, and a having a high concept were just as important as the cooking. It would pave the way for shows like Chopped, and it’s three-round format, which would become the template for almost all future shows.

For over a decade, every network, in every part of the world, has pretty much followed the same set-up. Whether it’s a 10 minute short on Quibi, or one of two dozen shows on The Food Network, you will likely see: “a larger-than-life host, a specifically defined challenge, bombastic music, a set time limit, a panel of judges, and a cast of contestants whose back-story and biographical detail serves to heighten the stakes and fan the [program’s] already heated dramatic flame.” It’s safe. It works. So that’s all we’re going to get.

These days, I tune into every new cooking competition that I come across on television in search of what’s next.

Which brings me to Crazy Delicious. A zany a co-production between Netflix and the UK’s Channel 4 that feels, at times, like the consequence of a pitch meeting gone haywire. It is living proof at just how difficult it can be to create something different. That you can’t just add a bit of flash to current cooking show conventions and hope to wow audiences.

The series, which first aired in the UK in January and recently dropped on Netflix, is set in an edible Eden where contestants quite literally “forage” for their ingredients, picking tomatoes off vines, and finding eggs in nests. It is a veritable wonderland of delights that’s overseen by the decidedly droll Jayde Adams. The judges, Heston Blumenthal, Niklas Ekstedt, and Carla Hall, whom the series proclaims as “Food Gods,” are perpetually clad in white and find themselves perched in a judging enclave above the trees.


Every episode of Crazy Delicious centres around three new contestants, who face off in – you guessed it – three distinct challenges. The first is based on a hero ingredient, like a mushroom or a strawberry. In the second, they’ll need to reinvent a “classic,” like pizza or the hot dog. And the third is simply called the showstopper. The winner takes home £10,000 a “Golden Apple.” (Where Americans are all about the money, the English always seem perfectly happy doing this for pride and self worth.)

There’s thunder and lightning. All of the contestants go on and on about wanting to “please the Gods.” And everyone looks like they’re having a good laugh.

I should say that I’m not the biggest fan these self-contained contests. Somehow, the stakes don’t feel as critical when everything is done and dusted in 45 minutes. There are no carry over contestants. Which means that there is very little by way of emotional investment on our part. But that’s not why Crazy Delicious fell short for me.

This is a series that leans hard into its Willy Wonka concept in the hopes that it’ll be enough to distract us from the fact that it’s just more of the same – that it’s just another basic cooking competition with a bunch of fantastical flourishes.

Which is a shame. Because Crazy Delicious really doesn’t need it. The contestants here are all food bloggers or Instagram influencers. And the series feels like an attempt to show us that these individuals can do more than just style a plate. And boy, can they. These are all incredibly passionate and talented individuals, with a real gift for food and cooking. But even more than that, they seem to really understand ingredients and how to use them, abuse them, and bend them at will.


In fact, throughout these six episodes, you will see some truly weird and wonderful culinary creations. That’s what makes Crazy Delicious exciting. The idea that these home chefs can still wow the likes of Heston, and Carla, and Niklas. There is genuine skill at work here. It doesn’t need any of that whiz. It certainly could use a lot less bang. This is a series that is so caught up in being quirkier, and wackier, and sillier, that it sometimes forgets to keep its focus on the cooking.

I don’t want to be too hard on Crazy Delicious. Everyone involved seems to be having a blast. And it is a lot of fun. It is, unfortunately, just far too overproduced. And not always in the right places.

I keep looking for the next big thing in cooking competitions. Crazy Delicious just isn’t it.

Crazy Delicious
Netflix, Season 1, 6 episodes
Host: Jayde Adams
Cast: Heston Blumenthal, Niklas Ekstedt, and Carla Hall

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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