Joel McHale and Yolanda Gampp on Getting Salty in ‘Crime Scene Kitchen’ Season 2 With Savory Dish Twist

In Fox’s “Crime Scene Kitchen,” it’s not (entirely) about who wins or loses the most-delicious-baked-good portion, it’s about how you play the baking-detective game.

For the second season, which premieres Monday at 9 p.m., host Joel McHale and judge Yolanda Gampp said the competition becomes even harder, as it includes both self-taught and classically trained bakers who come at deciphering the mystery baked goods in very different ways. This season also throws savory recipes into the mix in an attempt to trip up contestants who saw only sweet treats featured in Season 1.

“The new bakers all saw the show, and I will say a lot of them swore they could do it,” McHale, who also hosted the first season of “Crime Scene Kitchen” back in 2021, told Variety. “It’s just like anything you see while you’re watching it at home, you’re like, ‘I can do that, I can figure that out.’ And then because we opened up the competition a little bit, so now it can be sweet and savory, we put in another variable that did stump a lot of them. Because some of them were classically trained, they knew their stuff very well. But some of the non-classically trained ones thought out of the box a little bit. I would say the advantages are almost equal, in a weird way.”

On Monday’s premiere, you’ll be introduced to the six teams of self-taught bakers, with the classically trained crew coming in next week’s episode. Further along in the season, the two groups will be combined. And without giving anything away — until the Confectionator 3000 does, that is — McHale assures that some wild choices will be made this season, along with some surprisingly accurate guesses.

“I find it hilarious when they have no clue what it is and they make something completely off the wall,” McHale said. “And I’m like, it’s gonna be tasty! And then it’s always scary when they get it dead on. It added a very nice rub to it — with no pun intended, because I love a good barbecue rub — and I think they get a little more in the crime scenes and it’s a bit more streamlined.”

Cake decorating extraordinaire Gampp, who is a self-taught baker and social media star, is back judging “Crime Scene Kitchen” alongside celebrity chef Curtis Stone, who has a professional education in sweets. Gampp says she and Stone were mindful of their differences when assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each group.

“Self-taught bakers tend to be really scrappy,” Gampp said. “You’ve learned the ropes yourself, you’ll try anything, obviously. That’s why you’re self taught because you’re willing to learn from disappointment and your mistakes. So in that respect, I think that’s a better advantage in a competition, because you’re perhaps better under pressure. The advantage of being classically trained is you have all this back knowledge of a lot of different types of pastry and baking. No matter what those clues tell you, you probably have some knowledge and background or practice in all the avenues of bakery and patisserie. And you can see how it plays in their minds, too, because if I was on the show as a self-taught baker, I would think these classically trained backers are going to have an advantage. But baking has a lot of rules, it’s not like cooking where you can be as free — so the classically trained might stop themselves from thinking through what the clues could actually be and go more classic each time.”

Those are the mental components of judging “Crime Scene Kitchen,” but what about the physical aspects?

“Here’s what worked in Season 2: not eating breakfast,” McHale said. “I knew that on a big day, especially in the beginning, there’s going to be six different dishes coming out a couple times. I’d be like, just drink coffee, because you’re gonna eat like a king or in a couple hours. I gained over 9 lbs., just like I did the year before. I really did. And I never got lunch. I just kind of would go, alright you’re just gonna be eating, it’s the sacrifice you’re making for television, which is really God’s work.”

Gampp was just grateful that savory recipes helped break up the sugar intake with a little salt.

“From a judge’s perspective, it’s great because it was less of a sugar crash,” Gampp said. “The days we had something savory we’re like, at least we won’t be a sugar cube today. I think there’s a lot of room for savory baking, I love savory. I won’t give away what savory we do, but I love that there’s different flavor profiles this time.”

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