02nd Dec2021

‘School Of Chocolate: Season One’ Review

by Rhys Payne

In my limited experience, I have found that the best way to learn to do something is by receiving help from someone who is in the field that you are also looking to get into. If you don’t know how to play a certain sport, for example, no one knows the game better than someone who has been playing for years and they can help you with things such as strategy and the general rules. Having that almost “insider” knowledge always helps you to learn more accurately and quickly – which reduces the painstaking process of you not understanding what is happening. On shows such as BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing (which if you haven’t been watching has had some of the highest quality dancers on the show that I can remember) both parts of the pair get judged on separate elements of dance. It is the professional’s responsibility to come up with new and exciting dances, that they must then teach to the celebrities. The celebrities then have to perform the number to the best of their abilities, where both the structure of the dance and the performance are both taken into account. This means that one person in the pair is learning and the other is developing and so many people wonder how these professionals push themselves in their careers, when training to become a high school teacher (of any subject) you spend the majority of your course working alongside an already qualified teacher who helps and coaches you to become the best teacher you can be! They give you constant feedback about your lessons, help you with understanding the class dynamics and can offer you any tips of the trade that they have picked up over the years. In the end, it is just the trainee teacher that is assessed regarding the effectiveness of their teaching and, if they pass, will hopefully end up doing the same training regime to the next generation of teachers! This cycle is so important for so many industries, including the teaching one, as it not only allows teachers to stay up to date but also allows for a greater influx of new recruits.

The brand new Netflix show School Of Chocolate is unlike any competition show I have seen before, in that in focussed on building up its guests and building on the cycle I talked about earlier.

Instead of competition and being better than one another, School Of Chocolate centres around the idea of everyone who’s taking part developing new skills, techniques etc. The show invites eight professionals to study the realm of chocolate under the tutelage of world-famous chocolate expert Amaury Guichon. These are already professionals and so you would expect them to want to show off how talented they are and prove they are better than their peers but this is not the case. The thing about the catering industry is that there is always something else to learn about, whether that is a different art form (e.g. chocolate, baking, fine dining etc) or using different techniques or new recipes etc., there is always an opportunity to broaden your knowledge. These professionals come onto the show to really fine-tune their chocolate skills so that they can hopefully use some of the techniques they have learnt back in their own kitchens. The show is structured in a way that makes it appear to be almost a masterclass rather than a competition show.

Each “challenge” is referred to as an exercise with the head chef calling each section “classes” so that the focus stays on the idea of education rather than competition. In every episode chef Amaury demonstrates a new skills (with the other chefs making constant notes and following his display) and each of the chefs then has to create something that is inspired by a central theme but uses the ideas that Amaury has shown them. Surprisingly, there are no eliminations on this show instead the top student of each episode is selected. Additionally, there are moments when chef Amaury Guichon discusses how he is not simply judging the final product but the process and skills involved which shows he also holds education above everything else in this show! Instead of kicking people off the show, the worst-performing contestants have a sit-down talk with the head judge where he informs them that instead of doing the next challenge they will be working on a different exercise to further hone their skills. The overall winner of the series is then gifted $50,000 cash to develop a business but also the opportunity to deliver an intentional masterclass in a chefs shop in Las Vegas. This builds on the idea of the education cycle that I discussed earlier as he trains people up who then train up the next generation!

School Of Chocolate also maintains a constant air of professionalism throughout, with fairly limited manufactured drama. The chefs are constantly in pristine chef whites and the tabletops are made of the most magnificent marble. Amaury Guichon is clearly a very knowledgeable and prestigious chef, who starts off very serious but as the series progresses he appears to become more and more relaxed and even cracks a few jokes by the end of the season. Amaury has an army of assistants throughout the show that help to drive the programme by cleaning up after chef and helping some of the contestants when they require more ingredients. Every episode contains the chocolate master showcasing a wonderful creation he has made, such as a fully edible hanging chandelier, a chocolate pencil that you can actually write with and, my personal favourite, an edible candle/candlestick that contained cookies and milk on the inside! Every one of his design are incredibly detailed and amazing to look at and the fact they are edible truly is the icing on the cake/chocolate!

The final episode in School Of Chocolate has the two overall best performing bakers captain two teams that compete against one another to see who will get the win. The teams are made up of the other chefs but one by one each member is eliminated leaving just the top two left in each team. This was an unusual final competition but did allow each baker to show their organisational skills, chocolate skills and teamwork skills to decide who the overall winner would be.

Overall, School Of Chocolate is a very unique competition TV show that focuses more on the development of the contestants rather than how great they are, to begin with. The unique structure and finale format allow this show to stand out in the horde of baking competition shows while still maintaining the professional vibe of the industry.

**** 4.5/5

School Of Chocolate: Season One is available to watch on Netflix now


Comments are closed.