Today I have awoken to find the papers full of excitement over the details of this year’s Great British Bake Off contestants. As I pass the baton on to this year’s fresh batch of recruits, I find myself reminiscing over the events of the past year.
This time last year I was having my turn at being thrown into the fold, rushing to the shops to buy every paper, checking twitter every 15 seconds with my phone nearly over-heating from the constant notifications. I had, rather stupidly, not booked the day off work so had to field a barrage of phone calls, newspaper, radio and TV requests from my desk whilst getting odd looks from my non-bakeoff watching colleague! The attention suddenly piled upon me was both lovely and overwhelming all at the same time. I kept repeating (and still do) “I only bake cakes”!
The weeks that followed have changed me forever in many ways, most of them for the good! The great British public love the show with such a devotion that they will want to tell you everything they are thinking about it, whether that be good or not! Having reporters waiting outside your house and people phoning up my work will always confuse me. Why would anyone really care what I have to say to the world?! Still, I settled into my newfound role with probably a bit too much ease!
The love I have received due to my connection with GBBO has been a life-affirming thing. I have had the chance to meet some fantastic people, from the British Women’s Olympic Canoe Team to some of my baking Idols. Having Eric Lanyard know who I am made me squeal a little with excitement! I have met people who truly love baking and find myself time and time again being amazed by the skill the UKs bakers, be they amateur or professional, exhibit time and time again.
Before I started my journey on the TV I had planned to try my hand at a Pastry & Patisserie course offered at NCN, one of my local Nottingham colleges. When I discovered I would never be able to apply to the Bake Off if I had a professional qualification I figured it was worth a gamble before applying to college. Little did I know at that time that I would end up on the bloody telly!
Once my time in the tent, and on the TV, was over I took myself off to the open day and joined a long line of 16 year olds (all accompanied by their mums) and signed up for the part time NVQ Level 3 course. I would be lying if I said I didn’t use my recent bake off outing in my application form!
My work had been gracious enough to allow me to take off every Tuesday so I could attend. I had to purchase a set of chef whites to wear that made me feel like I was playing dress up and brought a new set of shiny knives. My first session in October 2014 was a foray into a very different world to the one I had been used too. My day job in a cushy office had not prepared me for the hustle and bustle of a busy training kitchen! I found myself a place to work, in the back, in the corner and set to work week after week. Trying to get my baking skills to, even slightly, match those of Nancy, Luis, Richard, Chetna, Kate, Martha, Diana, Norman, Iain, Enwezor & Claire.
Now, only 8 months later, my course is over and I can now call myself a trained chef. Crazy huh?! My certificate is currently on my sideboard and shall soon be framed and hung in my loo. How do I feel the course went? Well, how about I let you decide for yourself? I’ve posted a series of photos below which contain nearly all the things I have had to make for the qualification. I think my skills have improved and, if nothing else, I have been introduced to the wonders of Bavarios Crème. That was worth the price of admission alone!
As life constantly shows me, as one door closes, another opens so as I tip my cap to the new class of 2015 I sit happily with the knowledge, experience and most importantly the friends I have made over the past 12 months. As for my next step? I’ve always found the fun is in the journey, not the destination!
Enjoy the ride you crazy fools. It’s the greatest journey around!
*The Chocolate number at the top was one of my final assessments. Not too shabby, even if I do say so myself.
If anyone would like any of the recipes from any of the above, just give me a shout below.