"Pastry chefs are so precise and so exacting [that] it really does come out in their personalities," host and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons says. "And they're artists, so with that comes a lot of drama. ... I mean, there's a lot of strategy and sabotage, and what's amazing is that desserts sort of lend themselves to that because they're so delicate and so fragile that you kind of have to guard them with your life or else it all could be lost."
The spinoff will follow the same Quickfire and Elimination Challenge format as the original, but will specifically focus on ingredients used to create desserts — with the obligatory twists thrown into the mix. While Simmons serves as the Padma Lakshmi of the series, renowned pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini will take on the Tom Colicchio role of head judge.
"[Johnny] doesn't have as many years in the kitchen as Tom Colicchio, but Johnny is sort of a wunderkind," Simmons says. "And he happens to be super attractive and very stylish."
Another difference Simmons notices between Just Desserts and Top Chef proper is the element of tension and extreme pressure.
"Recipes for pastry are down to the microgram. There's no fixing it if you make a mistake. Once you put it in the oven to bake, it's done. And if your measurements are not exact, it will not work," she says. "So they added such an extraordinary level of tension to the challenges that we've never seen before on Top Chef."
But don't expect a show just about cupcakes and pies, Simmons says.
"It is about sugar and butter and jams and jellies and fruits and chocolate and caramel and butterscotch and height and sculpture and artistry," she says. "Every challenge is so diverse. And it's just sort of like a wonderland. It was endless."
Just Desserts premieres Wednesday at 11/10c on Bravo. It moves to its regular Wednesday timeslot at 10/9c on Sept. 22.