The search for Australia’s best baker ..........
Nine is counting on sweet success as it enters the reality kitchen, writes Darren Cartwright
HAVING being caught loafing in the kitchen, Channel 9 is banking on The Great Australian Bake Off to be the next reality cooking show winner. The series, set in the manicured gardens of Victoria’s Werribee Mansion, pits 10 amateur cooks in a three-dish bake-off each episode.
In each hour-long episode, bakers complete a signature dish, a technical challenge and cook a show stopper.
Although this is Nine’s first full-on foray into the reality kitchen, the network doesn’t want to over cook it.
It has commissioned just eight episodes hosted by Anna Gare and Shane Jacobson.
The judges for The Great Australian Bake Off are Dan Lepard and Kerry Vincent, with the series based on the popular British series, which first aired in 2010.
Nine’s competitors have had incredible success with cooking shows originating from the UK – Channel 10 with MasterChef and Seven with My Kitchen Rules. While Nine has been a little slow to jump on the bandwagon.
Nine’s production executive Courtney Gibson says the Aussie series offers a fresh format. She says it is more relevant to the everyday cook than the other two series because it purely involves baking.
The Great Australian Bake Off covers all the basics of cooking, from pastries to pies, and is not bogged down with point scoring, Gibson says.
‘‘It’s not like we have a big clock and they (contestants) are getting the time calls and the reminders, but it’s a little more gentle,’’ she says.
‘‘The look is different and everything is fresh, especially looking over the garden. You’re not in a studio with lights and the set has a great feel to it.’’
In the weeks leading into each episode the contestants are given a heads up on the theme of each week and are encouraged to perfect their signature dish in advance.
However, the ‘‘technical challenge’’ and the ‘‘show stopper bake-off’’ are random and test the contestants on their ability to correctly read and execute a recipe, plus showing creativity.
‘‘The ‘technical challenge’ is ranked – it’s not points based and the ‘show stopper’ is about great presentation, creativity and flair.’’
It’s not only Australia that has picked up the bake-off format – several European countries have bought it as has American network CBS.
To find the Aussie contestants Gibson says producers scoured cooking clubs throughout the nation.
‘‘There were about 200 auditions all up. We went to baking clubs, universities, to the CWA and put the word out as best we could to find people,’’ she says.
‘‘There is something about the characters and the people pouring their all out and it’s a really watchable show.’’
The Great Australian Bake Off: Tuesdays, 8pm, Nine, NBN
The Great Australian Bake Off hosts Shane Jacobson and Anna Gare