The life of a travelling showgirl chef is never dull. My daily job of wedding cake making is peppered with traversing the country demonstrating the skills that every avid home baker wants to learn… always in stiletto heels!
No longer were women scared to be labelled as Stepford Wives for taking pleasure in a pinny, no longer were men afraid to be emasculated by a macaron. Baking was cool again. I’d go so far as to say that baking is the new rock’n’roll.
Nowhere is this more evident than at the Foodies Festival. I perform twice daily over the three day festival in The Cake & Bake Theatre – the equivalent for music lovers would be the dance stage at Glastonbury. We cater for the sweet-toothed fun-loving crowd who just want to have a good time. The Chefs’ Theatre is the main stage for people who want to cook dinner, my stage is for those who want to skip to dessert!
Over the course of the Christmas show at London’s Truman Brewery in November, I decorated two rich fruitcakes, baked and decorated three carrot cakes LIVE, and baked with two fabulous celebrity guests.
I employed Jamie Laing from Made in Chelsea as my glamorous assistant. Jamie is a natural with a piping bag so I’d hire him any day!
I was also lucky enough to catch up with local treasure, Candice Brown, winner of the latest series of The Great British Bake Off. Bedfordians will remember Candice for her effigy of Kempston’s King William pub baked in biscuit – accurate down to the sticky carpet made from gingerbread.
When Mary Berry enthused about eating the carpet, she broke Twitter for at least ten minutes.
Talking to Candice as she expertly whipped up a batch of orange and cardamom shortbread (both with and without dark chocolate and almonds), I was struck by how genuinely sweet she is. She even gave me her bakes to take home as a gift!
Think about it; the last series of GBBO was entirely without ‘gate’. There was no ‘custardgate’ where one baker pinched another’s custard, no ‘freezergate’ with ice cream removed from freezer and left to melt quietly, no friction or tension between bakers at all. Just genuine friendship – Candice told me that they share a Whatsapp group, where they take the micky out of each other as they each pop up in the media, enjoying their new celebrity status. The bakers keep each other grounded and Val keeps the conversation from getting too risqué and naughty!
Now that Bedfordshire can boast two GBBO winners, Nadiya and Candice have put this area firmly on the map as a hotbed of home-baking talent. If you love to bake at home, join us at a live Foodies Festival event in 2017. In the meantime, there are plenty of recipes for you to try on my website and I would love to hear how you get on with them. Happy baking!