Sunny Anderson on hosting new Food Network competition ‘Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey After Dark’

Host Sunny Anderson, as seen on Chocolate Meltdown at Hershey Park, Season 1.
Host Sunny Anderson
Photo: Food Network

What do you get when you lock skilled pastry chefs in at Hersheypark in the middle of the night and have them compete to create incredible chocolate masterpieces? This isn’t a riddle — you get Food Network’s latest show “Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey After Dark.”

The new competition show puts the chefs to the test by combining elements of the famed Hersheypark’s amusement attractions and using the inspiration to make chocolate creations. Hosted by Sunny Anderson, the four-episode series is the latest addition to Food Network’s lineup of Halloween-themed programming.

We’ve got contestants in the middle of the night when the park is closed and they get to act like grown kids, take rides and find different treats to use and run back into Chocolate World and have them compete,” said Anderson. “It’s a really cool thing, you get to play in an amusement park overnight and make huge chocolate structures, which is what they do for a living, and, boom, you win money.”

In each episode of “Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey After Dark,” three pastry chefs get locked inside the amusement park and must solve clues and brave the thrilling rides in order to use Hershey candies for their creations before the night ends. The chefs have help from just one assistant while putting together their creations in Hersey’s Chocolate World, the brand’s largest candy store, as they race against the clock.

Judges Ralph Attanasia (Food Network’s “Buddy vs. Duff”) and Maneet Chauhan (Winner, “Tournament of Champions”) then determine who is the winner of the night’s competition. The winner goes home with a year’s supply of Hershey candy, a Hersheypark vacation and $10,000.

“It was eerie – they had it lit, it’s Halloween time and the whole idea is to run through the park and find clues, so I was running through the park watching contestants find clues, but not everything is well lit,” said Anderson. “It’s all fun and games but with $10,000 on the line and bragging rights, which is priceless, to compete like this is incredible.”

Judge Ralph Attanasia, host Sunny Anderson, and judges Jim St. John, Maneet Chauhan.Photo: Food Network

The series was shot in October 2020. Anderson says that Hersheypark already had strict COVID-19 protocols in place, but filming and competing at night made it all that much safer for everyone involved with the show. 

“At Chocolate World, it was like being a kid in the candy store. We were not just outside running, we had Chocolate World all to ourselves,” said Anderson. “Working in the wee hours of the night was really fun, chocolate makes us feel like kids.”

Throughout the series, competitors will take inspiration from Hersheypark’s favorite attractions. The chefs have to defy the odds against the weather, dizzying rides and kitchen mishaps. There are moments where viewers will be on the edges of their seats with chefs adjust plans on the fly, plus the potential for losing all of their progress on the chefs’ chocolately showcases while they race against the clock.

“Viewers can expect bigger-than-life pieces of art made out of mostly food, it’s really cool to see these are edible,” said Anderson. “I love the suspense of putting things together. Chocolate is temperamental and brittle. If things are completely bitter, it’s not today. They fall down. It’s fun to watch, and even as I was there on the edge of my seat. Can the clock click down fast enough before things fall apart? It’s fun but stressful.”

“Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey After Dark” premieres on Food Network at 10 p.m. ET on Sept. 27.