Meet the bakers for Channel 4’s Bake Off
James R | On 22, Aug 2017
Bake Off is back – but not quite as we know it. Channel 4’s new incarnation of the BBC’s baking show will officially kick off on Tuesday 29th August – one week today. And, while hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding and judge Prue Leith (joining Paul Hollywood) will be new to the tent, the rest of the show appears to be business as usual, with 12 amateur bakers from across the UK competing over 10 weeks, whisking, kneading, icing and beating their way through classic cakes, perfect patisseries, Italian delights, sticky caramel constructions and elaborate layered puddings.
Episode 1 will be Cake Week, and see the bakers take on a fruity signature challenge, before Prue sets her first technical – a children’s tea party favourite – and the trickiest showstopper yet: an “illusion” cake.
1 tent. 30 new challenges. 3 new faces. But what about those dozen bakers? Here’s the line-up of contenders in this year’s Bake Off tent – all of whom like cake so much that none of them are eating it in their photos.
Kate (Aged 29) – Merseyside
Kate lives in Merseyside and works as a Health and Safety Inspector. When she’s not making Liverpool a safer place, you will find her indulging in her many hobbies: blacksmithing and furniture restoration as well as yoga and outdoor pursuits. History fan Kate also utilises old-fashioned techniques for baking, such as using smoked flour for sour dough bread, and recreating recipes such as a Dockers Wedding Cake. Kate is predominately self-taught, and started to bake about two years ago when she started growing her own vegetables, and became more interested where food came from using local produce.
Peter (Aged 52) – Essex
IT Programme Manager Peter lives in Essex, with his wife Tito and two children Temi & Toni. Born in Brixton, South London, Peter moved to Nigeria with his parents when he was seven years old. There, he continued his education and eventually moved back to the UK when he was 24. Peter started baking eight years ago after feeling unwell, which he put down to eating shop bought bread. He started making his own and has never looked back. Peter prides himself on making the picture perfect macaron based on a Pierre Hermes recipe. Health conscious Peter has a variety of hobbies such as running on the beach, badminton, spinning, chess and science.
Julia (Aged 21) – West Sussex
Originally from Kemerovo, Siberia, Julia met her British husband Matt on holiday in Turkey when she was 17. Julia taught herself to bake from a young age, however: any time she wanted to bake, she would have to save up money from her after school job to buy the ingredients. After moving to the UK, Julia dreamed of applying for The Great British Bake Off and so she spent three years practising and studying British bakes in particular, so she would have the knowledge and skills she needed.
Chris (Aged 50) – Bristol
Chris is originally from Sussex, but now lives in Bristol, with his wife Catherine, where he works as a software developer. Chris admits he is obsessed with the science behind baking and is constantly developing healthy but unusual flavour combinations. As a cancer survivor, he is passionate about helping and inspiring other patients touched by the disease. His other hobbies include sailing, travelling, writing and visiting bakeries.
Flo (Aged 71) – Merseyside
Flo was raised alongside her eleven siblings in the industrial town of Huyton, Liverpool. After meeting her late husband Richard at the age of 21 whilst working at the sausage factory, Flo started to bake delicious treats for their three young children. When her husband died two years ago, her son Stephen encouraged Flo to start baking again to help her deal with the grief and she likes to help her son out by baking for his restaurant. Today, when she’s not singing karaoke or having a boogie with her friends, Flo prides herself on being a homely, traditional baker and loves nothing more than baking for her family to keep them happy, healthy and together. Flo is retired and at 71, she is the show’s eldest amateur baker to take part in the series to date.
Steven (Aged 34) – Hertfordshire
Steven comes from a family of strong baking women, and describes baking as being in his blood after his mum, Judi, taught him the basics 25 years ago. When he finally had a kitchen of his own, Steven started to take it more seriously and now cooks and bakes everything he eats and even lost 5 stone in the process. Steven has a background in marketing and a passionate love of travel, however it’s baking that consumes all areas of Steven’s life; preferring cookbooks to novels, he is more likely to be found on the tube digesting new recipes than dipping into the morning newspapers. Steven likes to update classic recipes from his mum’s old cookbooks with modern ingredients to satisfy the 21st century palate.
Chuen-Yan (Aged 46) – North London
Yan lives in North London with her wife, Marian, cat Kacey and her sourdough starter called ‘Muvver’. Yan was born in Hong Kong and moved to the UK when she was two, with her parents and brother Ken, she also has another brother, Yee, and sister, Ying. Yan eventually trained as a Biomedical Scientist and now works for The Francis Crick Institute as a Laboratory Research Scientist. Growing up in a Chinese household meant Yan’s family would steam, rather than bake, and used their oven as storage space. Yan began to take baking more seriously ten years ago when she found herself in between 24 hour shifts, working as a molecular biologist for the NHS.
James (Aged 46) – Essex
James lives in Essex with his wife Ann, two sons Oliver & Ethan and their three chickens: Sparkles, Superman and Jeff. James describes himself as a bald, baking banker from Brentwood with a bad back. His friends say he looks more like a bank robber than a banker. Always keen to embark on a challenge, James also trained as a port diver for the Royal Navy Reserves, where it was his job to keep the ports clear during the cold war. When he’s not banking in Canary Wharf, James loves to spend his free time in the fresh air at his allotment, growing fruit and vegetables to incorporate into his bakes. James’ main baking influence is his father, Brian, who first taught him to bake over 40 years ago.
Sophie (Aged 33) – Surrey
Sophie grew up in Suffolk and now lives in Surrey with her boyfriend, David and cat Loki. After graduating with a Masters in Psychology at The University of Toulouse, Sophie went on to join the British Army as an Officer in the Royal Artillery. After leaving the Army mess behind her, Sophie finally had her own kitchen. After volunteering to make a friend’s birthday cake, Sophie discovered she had a natural talent for baking and more recently, a passion for patisserie. When she is not baking, Sophie enjoys track cycling, rowing, teaching Military boot camps and is also training to be a stuntwoman.
Tom (Aged 29) – Edinburgh
Architect Tom lives in Edinburgh, with his partner David. Baking has always been a huge part of family life for Tom and his siblings, who were taught to bake by his mother June, a Home Economics teacher. The family cherishes recipe books passed down by grandparents from both sides of the family. As a true Scot, Tom can often be found making fresh shortbread to welcome friends and family into his home. When he’s not baking, Tom loves the great outdoors. He enjoys rugby, triathlons, marathons, skiing, horse riding, fresh water swimming and hiking as well as writing and photography.
Stacey (Aged 42) – Hertfordshire
Ex school teacher Stacey lives with her husband James and their 3 young sons in Hertfordshire. Stacey has fond memories of helping her grandmother, Phyllis, make bread and butter pudding when she was a little girl, but it was during university days where she really started to bake seriously. Stacey likes to incorporate her Jewish heritage into her baking, with a traditional homemade Challah with every Friday night dinner. As a self-confessed perfectionist, absolutely nothing leaves Stacey’s kitchen unless she is totally satisfied with it.
Liam (Aged 19) – North London
Student Liam was born in Hackney, North London, and is fondly known as the ‘Cake Boy’ amongst his university friends. Having only baked for 4 years, Liam already has a vast baking repertoire under his belt. Liam strongly believes that baking is a universal language that can bring people together from all walks of life. One of Liam’s main ambitions is to make baking acceptable amongst his peers and the younger generation. This ambition begins at home where Liam regularly bakes with his young nephews to install that positive attitude in them.