Fans of The Great British Bake Off take note – Canada’s version of the hit baking series, The Great Canadian Baking Show, is here and it is just as sweet as the original. Ahead of the show’s premiere on Nov. 1 (CBC), the show’s hosts, Dan Lev yand British-Canadian actress Julia Chan(Saving Hope), dropped by the Chatelaine Kitchen to spill some juicy secrets from the set. Read on to find out what you can expect to see in the Canadian baking tent.
The Canadian version boasts the best group of bakers yet. Julia and Dan both agree that the Canadian version of the hit series has the most positive and skilled group of bakers yet. Dan, 34, confessed, “The bakers were lovely people who were just there to have a good time, to test their skills, and to learn something,” he said, adding, “I do feel like the Canadian cast is arguably the best cast of bakers I’ve ever seen, out of all the franchises!”
Unlike other reality shows that are often rooted in negativity and strategy, The Great Canadian Baking Show aims to foster a supportive environment. Julia, 34, pointed out that the show’s positivity is timely, “We’re living in a bit of a tricky time right now and the [show] came at just the right moment, you know. It’s such a relief to watch.” She continued, “The main goal is just to get that bake done, as good as you can get it. Each competition isn’t against your fellow baker. You’re not competing for a big money prize, you’re just there because you love it.”
The winner of the competition show gets a fancy cake plate, which isn’t quite the same as The Great British Bake Off ’s winning prize of $100,000. But that doesn’t seem to bother any of the Canadian competitors, Dan pointed out, “They’re competing for a cake plate. You’re attracting a different kind of person; a kind of person who’s in it for the experience, not the fame or money. All these people should be put on pedestals just for how good they are as people and as bakers.”
Julia added: “All of these bakers are home bakers, they’re doing it for fun. The show is really such a hopeful spin on the reality-format of competition shows.”
Julia used to make sponge cakes with her mother but hilariously confessed that she would garnish them with woodsy materials she’d foraged. Dan confessed he’s never been much of a baker, “I’m not skilled with anything with my hands, be it origami or baking. It’s too precise. I panic when there’s lists and numbers, so I’m better as a consumer.”
As the Canuck spinoff of the smash U.K. hit The Great British Bake Off creeps closer, CBC has rolled out The Great Canadian Baking Show’s slate of celebrity judges and hosts.
Vancouver pastry chef Bruno Feldeisen and Quebec-born, Australia-based pastry chef Rochelle Adonis will judge the amateur bakers, while actors Daniel Levy (Schitt’s Creek) and Julia Chan (Saving Hope) have the hosting duties.
Levy was a big fan of the U.K. show and said he “actively pursued” a role in the Canadian version.
“The key to the series is the bakers — you’re rooting for them,” he said.
“It’s not about people tearing each other down, it’s about people wanting each other to succeed — because at the end of the day, you’re not competing against someone else, you’re competing against yourself. You’re competing against your bake.”
The show starts shooting this week and will premiere on CBC-TV on November 1. It will spotlight 10 amateur bakers, chosen from a cross-country casting call.
‘A delicious show’
The Canadian installment will be closely based on the original U.K. version, which was a ratings powerhouse. The BBC estimated the most recent season finale, last October, drew nearly 15 million viewers.
Chan was watching from abroad and got hooked.
“It’s just such a delicious show,” she said. “I love how supportive everyone is — not just the hosts and the judges … but how they are with each other, you know, helping each other if one finishes early, or all of them rooting for each other.”
Similar to the U.K. model, the amateur bakers will face off in three rounds each week — signature bake, technical bake and the show-stopper — testing their skills and creativity.
Three finalists will vie to be crowned winner.
‘Diversity of Canada is going to come through’
Feldeisen has competed in several TV cooking shows, like Chopped Canada and Donut Showdown. This time he’s on the other side of the table, critiquing the competitors.
Feldeisen, who is executive chef at the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Wash., on the British Columbia border, has worked at prestigious kitchens in France, Canada and the United States. He’s twice been nominated for a James Beard Award, considered by many to be the Oscars of food.
“I’ve seen a surge of fabulous bakeries, pastry shops … there is a global enthusiasm about good pastry,” he said. “There is enough bad news in this world, so if you can bake and share what you do, that’s fantastic.”
Adonis has returned to Canada to judge the show. Born and raised in Montreal, she moved to Australia when she was 10 and trained as a pastry chef in Europe. She is famed for her creative desserts and elaborate wedding cakes, which she has baked for both the British and Saudi royal families.
She now runs a salon in Perth, where she offers high tea, brunch and cooking classes.
“Having the chance to come back to Canada, doing what I love doing, it was like a maple leaf exploding inside of me when I got the call,” she said. “It was a no-brainer.”
The show’s format has now been adopted in more than 20 countries, but she’s hoping the Canadian version can offer something a little bit different.
“The diversity of Canada is going to come through,” she said. “I’m hoping to taste that too — the differences between west coast and east coast. I think that’s where people’s heritage can come through in the food. You can taste it.”
CBC will air the most recent season (the 7th) of The Great British Bake Off starting at the end of August as part of the lead-up to the new series.