On the surface, comedy star Daniel Levy’s hosting role on “The Great Canadian Baking Show” may seem ironic.
After his days making audiences laugh on several MTV Canada after-shows, he had no interest in hosting a TV show again, says the star and co-creator of “Schitt’s Creek.”
And he’s a terrible baker, he admits.
“It is almost stuff of legend how bad I am as a cook,” Levy said with a laugh in a recent phone interview.
“I’m an invitee to a dinner party. I’m not the person who’s inviting you over.”
Yet when Levy watched the wildly popular BBC series “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix, he got swept up in its thoughtful portrayal of amateur confectionery makers competing in a series of challenges.
“I found myself being quite moved by a show that prides itself not on tearing people down but rather lifting people up,” he said. “It is a competition-based show but the competition isn’t about bakers talking trash about each other or sabotaging each other. It’s about the baker and their oven, not the baker and the baker beside them.”
Levy became a “diehard” fan and tweeted that if the show ever came to Canada, he would love to throw his hat in the ring to host.
“I woke up the next morning to a barrage of tweets back at me not only letting me know that it was coming to Canada but that it was coming to CBC,” he said.
“By the end of the week I had gotten a call asking if I was legitimately interested.”
Debuting Wednesday, “The Great Canadian Baking Show” features a diverse slate of 10 amateur bakers, from a human rights lawyer to a dentist and a graphic designer.
In each episode, they compete in visually sumptuous culinary challenges over three rounds — the Signature Bake, the Technical Bake and the Show Stopper.
The final three then compete for the “Great Canadian Baking Show” title.
Levy co-hosts alongside British actress Julia Chan. Pastry chefs Bruno Feldeisen and Rochelle Adonis serve as judges.
“Those guys opened my mind to new things that I never knew you could do or knew you could eat or knew you could have those flavour combinations,” said Feldeisen, the French-born former executive pastry chef for the Four Seasons in New York and Vancouver.
Like Levy, Feldeisen was also drawn in by the positivity in a TV genre that can sometimes be cutthroat.
“I think it was very well-spirited, it brings the best of people out,” he said. “When we left, everybody was crying.”
Levy said he became known as “the sampler” on set.
“I thought, ‘If I’m going to do it you have to go all in, so I want to know every step of the process.'”
Levy even tried honing his baking skills before filming.
For three weekends in a row, he baked a focaccia bread to try to nail the recipe. By the end, it wasn’t great but it was “certainly edible.”
“There’s so much more to baking than what I thought, which was opening a box of Duncan Hines cake mix and adding a few eggs, some milk and throwing it in the oven,” said Levy.
“Bakers are focused on the details and they have the patience levels that I could only dream of having. So it’s quite remarkable to sit back and watch these people hone these kills that they’ve developed in addition to their everyday jobs.”