‘Crime Scene Kitchen’ Host Joel McHale on Finale’s Wild Rule Twist, Unplanned ‘Community’ Nod

Plus: What he hopes to see in a potential second season of the Fox competition

Crime Scene Kitchen Community Joel McHale

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Fox’s “Crime Scene Kitchen.”)

“Crime Scene Kitchen” host Joel McHale spent the first seven episodes of the Fox baking-detective competition reminding teams over and over and over that they needed to follow the clues left behind in the Crime Scene Kitchen set to try to re-create exactly which dish they think was baked there.

But on Wednesday’s Season 1 finale, McHale and his fellow “Crime Scene Kitchen” judges chef Curtis Stone and cake artist Yolanda Gampp dropped the show’s premise for the finalists’ last challenge, telling the three remaining teams they could bake whatever kind of birthday cake they wanted to for Gampp for their “showpiece” round, as long as they followed the “flavors” found in the crime scene. Contestants Natalie Collins-Fish and Luis Flores succeeded in this game-changing challenge, winning the $100,000 grand prize.

“We went back on everything we said. We were like, ‘Do what we say, until we say, do what you want.’ And that was not until the end,” McHale told TheWrap. “I don’t know what to compare it to other than if you’re in the World Series, and the pitcher is gassed out and they’re like, ‘Well, we don’t have any other pitchers, so just f—ing go for it.’ The rules became no rules for the finale, which I think was kind of cool. They definitely said, ‘Go nuts and do your thing.’ Who knows, if we get a second season, it might be the exact opposite. We might have one where the first episode we’re like, ‘Go nuts, let’s see what you can do.’ And then by the end of it, ‘If you don’t get the arrangement of sprinkles exactly right, you’re out.’”

While verbally policing the 12 teams of dessert detectives’ investigations of the crime scene kitchen was a big part of McHale’s hosting duties, another equally important part was making nonstop baking puns. However, McHale told TheWrap that he himself cannot stand wordplay, much like his “Community” alter ego Jeff Winger.

In fact, we brought up one specific scene from the NBC sitcom in which Jeff’s friend Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is very upset that her Greendale study group doesn’t want to indulge her baking obsession any longer, and Jeff says she’s having a “nervous breakdown” over some burnet pies. When Pierce (Chevy Chase) interjects to say “more like nervous bakedown,” Jeff says he had already thought of it, but didn’t say it “on purpose.”

Crime Scene Kitchen

If you are not following this deep cut we’ve thrown out, don’t worry. McHale didn’t remember it specifically either. But he appreciates the fact he didn’t end up saying the phrase on Season 1 of “Crime Scene Kitchen,” as not using it is actually a nod to Jeff Winger. (You can watch the scene in question here.)

“Oh, wow, good memory. To pull that out is very impressive. You win the day,” McHale said. “The entire run of [‘Crime Scene Kitchen’] was a nervous bakedown because all the bakers were guessing at what they were making and everyone was nervous and everyone wants to win $100,000. Oh, that’s really funny. Oh my gosh, good one. You definitely can say I have betrayed Jeff Winger in that– or, I guess no, I guess I just kept it going forward by not saying it! But I will say, everyone is like, ‘Aren’t you just kind of like Jeff Winger?’ I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, we sound and look alike, but I’m not a womanizing jerk who can’t settle down.’ But I will say, we are very similar in that we both hate wordplay. I can’t stand puns. But that’s really great.

If there is a second season of Fox’s “Crime Scene Kitchen,” we’re sure McHale will be tasked with even more baking puns (sorry, Joel) — but what else does he see coming in potential future episodes? For starters, the host thinks that the teams coming in next time would have a better understanding of exactly what is required of them.

“You could tell early on people were just ignoring the clues… It it took about three weeks before people were like, ‘Oh, you’ve got to follow the clues and make the thing that’s the closest to that as possible,’” McHale said.

The “Crime Scene Kitchen” host added: “I think you make a ‘Survivor’ comparison. We’re not ‘Survivor,’ obviously. ‘Survivor’ changed television forever 21 years ago. But I think more along the lines of, the first season is down. And I think bakers that watch it will go, ‘Oh, OK, you have to make this. You have to follow the clues.’ And people who watch it, they’ve dialed in to what the rules were.”

If he gets a Season 2, McHale is also hoping for a “Crime Scene Kitchen” spinoff that airs back to back with the original.

“I would like to see a dessert version and a savory version on the same night,” he said. “You go ‘Crime Scene Kitchen, and then ‘Crime Scene Kitchen: Savory.’ And I definitely need a voiceover artist to get a real deep vocal fry on that ‘Savory.’ But I think next year, if we get a season, I think we double down on what we’re doing. And there’s a zillion more desserts and obviously a lot of talented bakers. It opened a world up to me of, holy crap, I didn’t even know half of this stuff was possible. And I think exploring that would be really cool.”

Readers can find our interview with the “Crime Scene Kitchen” Season 1 winners Natalie Collins-Fish and Luis Flores right here.


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