The camaraderie between contestants was lovely to see, with this being one of the friendliest iterations of the baking
Après 10 weeks of watching 12 bakers pour their hearts into what came out of their ovens/fridges – we have reached the end of another series of le Grande pâtisserie britannique and I will miss it, comme toujours. This latest series may not have have felt as soothing as last year’s lockdown-tinged iteration, but it encapsulated the best of what Britain should be.
Obligatory spoiler warning here – the series was won by “Britalian” Giuseppe Dell’Anno, a moniker he wears with pride. “I truly can’t believe it or take it in, this has made me so incredibly happy to be a Britalian,” he said following his win over Crystelle Pereira and Chigs Parmar. “Dell’Anno is my surname which translates in English to ‘of the year’ – and I feel this has certainly been my year.” There was also the now requisite acknowledgement that it has “been a good year for Italy” with the country having also won Euro 2020, Eurovision and two sprint titles at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
This series of Bake Off has contrasted sharply with the row over sleaze dogging the government and Boris Johnson’s less than stellar speech-giving as rumours swirl of tensions between Downing Street and the Treasury. The camaraderie between contestants was lovely to see, with this being one of the friendliest iterations of the Bake Off, in my view. Light years away from Johnson managing to upset a number of MPs in his own party over the change to the rules on social care costs.
“You always hear these stories of wonderful friendships being born in the tent. And I must admit that the cynical part of me has always wondered how genuine they were,” said Giuseppe in the wake of one of the closest finals I can remember. “On our last day, Chigs, Crystelle and I walked into the tent knowing that we will leave it equally happy regardless of the outcome.” There may still be an element of playing up to the cameras with that – but the fondness of the bakers for each other appeared clear on screen, with Crystelle having referred to her “baking family”.
There was also the story of Chigs, who – like so many across the country – took up baking via the gateway of a sourdough loaf during the first lockdown. His hometown, Leicester, was one of the places hit particularly hard and no doubt his journey will have registered with lots of people there. The fact that he ended up receiving the star baker award twice and a coveted handshake from Paul Hollywood is testament to how much he grew through the series. I’m sure plenty across the country have taken inspiration from the fact that Chigs managed to work towards something positive during a tough 18 mois.
“I ain’t got a clue what I’m doing here, how has that happened? I’m so shocked, je ne sais pas quoi dire,” said Chigs after making it through the semi-finals. “I’m now kacking it.” And who can’t relate to feeling that at some point in their lives? The pained expressions of all three contestants when something wasn’t going right were also very relatable.
The only disappointment for me was that the rules were not disregarded last week to make Jürgen Krauss part of the final, having had a great series himself. But Chigs at least used a dough-curling technique during the final that Jürgen had passed onto him.
Yet another example of the sense of community that Bake Off embodies – and most certainly the best of modern Britain.