Joel McHale’s latest series, “Crime Scene Kitchen,” combines the culinary ingredients that make cooking shows so popular with the whodunit parts of the recipe for “CSI.” What’s being served up by FOX – starting at 9 p.m. May 26 – is a show where bakers must determine what type of dessert was made based on a few crumbs, flour trails and some elusive clues.
Contestants must then recreate the recipe for celebrity judges Curtis Stone and Yolanda Gampp who determine which player has come closest to recreating the scene of the cooking crime. Some get very close while others aren’t even in the same restaurant.
The team of two chefs who come closest to duplicating the dessert will take home the $100,000 prize.
McHale says, “There’s not many clues. You’re going to be blown away by how close people get to guessing what they find. And then, you’ll be blown away by some of the absolute wrong turns that people take.
“You’ll also see that these bakers, some of them are very well trained; they have formal training, and then, some of them are self‑taught. And you will be so surprised at how far the self‑taughts get and how not that far some of the trained ones get.”
McHale, who is best known for starring on the comedy “Community,” comes to the new completion series with plenty of experience. He knows how to keep a game show rolling after hosting “Card Sharks.” When it comes to culinary skills, McHale jokes he was able to help the celebrity judges with their cooking skills during the taping of the shows.
“But serious, I do cook a lot. I cook a lot of meat and a lot of fish, but the world of baking is so complicated and incredible. It’s, like, magic. It’s like science. And to watch and listen to Yolanda and Curtis talk about this stuff, the precision is out of this world,” McHale says. “I was so thrilled to see it all happening before my eyes.
“A lot of why I’m there is to tell jokes, and to comment and, kind of, be an every‑man as I try these cakes and desserts that are, for the most part, wonderful.”
The show has the contestants trying to recreate desserts. The decision was made to go that direction instead of having them try to determine a main course or appetizer because desserts are very specific. Executive producer Conrad Green explains that if you are making a dish like an apple pie, the clues can lead to a definite correct answer, as opposed to a lot of more savory dishes where everything’s a bit more ambiguous.
Green adds, “And also, desserts are just delicious. Everyone likes desserts, and they look great. And you can really see when things go wrong with a dessert in a way you, sometimes, can’t with other dishes”
When asked if he had attempted any of the dishes he saw being made during the filming of the episodes, McHale was quick to say, “(expletive deleted) no.!”
One reason McHale has not had too many opportunities to work on his cooking skills is that he is very busy with his job as an actor, comedian and television host. Along with “Crime Scene Kitchen” and “Card Sharks,” McHale also co-hosts the podcast “The Darkest Timeline,” alongside his fellow “Community” co-star, Ken Jeong.
Along with “Community,” McHale’s acting jobs have included “Happily,” “Becky,” “Stargirl,” “Twilight Zone”; and voicing “Johnny Cage” in “Mortal Kombats Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge.”
It was his work on “The Soup” that brought McHale his first real attention. He wrapped the 12th and final season of “The Soup” in 2015.
Whether he’s taking on a character or asking as the host for a group of contestants trying to piece together a dessert, McHale loves the work.
“When I started off on ‘The Soup,’ I’ve really enjoyed that format. And then, when I got to do ‘Community,’ you know, it was these dreams come true. Sure, I never saw my family, but I like doing standup and acting, and then, yelling at bakers,” McHale says. “It’s fun. I’ve never really chosen.
“I really like it all, and I’m glad people like Dwayne Johnson and Ellen DeGeneres and Jamie Foxx kind of blew the lid off of the thing that said an actor couldn’t host a game show, and vice versa.”
The fact McHale keeps working as an actor eventually leads to the question of whether there’s a chance a “Community” movie could be made. McHale would have said a year ago there was no chance. But, he’s now convinced the odds are much higher of such a project.
McHale has plenty to keep him busy no matter whether there is more community or not. The first episode of “Crime Scene Kitchen” will be broadcast following the season finale of “The Masked Singer” that’s scheduled to air at 8 p.m. May 26 on FOX.