Eat­ing with your eyes:

Bake Off judges talk tarts, tortes and cre­ative crit­i­cism.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

Dean Brettschnei­der and Sue Fleis­chl know their tarts from their tortes.

As judges on The Great Kiwi Bake Off, it is their job to scru­ti­nise the con­tes­tants’ cre­ations and of­fer con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. Be­fore you ask, yes, it does mean a lot of tast­ing.

But there is so much more to the pair’s TV roles than munch­ing away on sug­ary treats and savoury morsels. Ap­pear­ances are just as im­por­tant.

“Look, you eat with your eyes and I think, aes­thet­i­cally, you’ve got to want to go in fur­ther,” says Brettschnei­der.

“It’s al­ways an an­gle that I try to look at. If it looks good then I’m go­ing to want to eat it.”

Brettschnei­der, 49, who is known as The Global Baker, lives in Den­mark. His in­ter­na­tional food busi­ness Baker & Cook in­cludes a chain of bak­ery stores. But he reg­u­larly vis­its New Zealand for work and to see his adult son.

View­ers may recog­nise Brettschnei­der from TV shows such as New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker, A Kiwi Baker In France and The Sugar Club.

He has also penned foodie books such as Baker & Cook and Baked: Treats For Break­fast, Lunch & Tea. Born and raised in North Can­ter­bury, Brettschnei­der was an ap­pren­tice baker be­fore he de­cided to ven­ture over­seas. “I like bak­ing and I think if any­body’s in­ter­ested in some­thing they just carry on and carry on,” he says. “I did my OE like ev­ery­one does and mucked around in Lon­don and worked for some pretty in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in Lon­don ho­tels and then in restau­rants.” Sue Fleis­chl, 55, who owns The Great Cater­ing Com­pany, grew up in Hawke’s Bay, and re­calls spend­ing time in the kitchen as a child. “My fa­ther is from Vi­enna and my mother is from Lon­don,” she says. “My mother loved bak­ing and her favourite cook­book is The Con­stance Spry Cook­ery Book so we baked a lot out of that. She scrib­bled all the way through it. It’s a lit­tle fam­ily heir­loom.” At age 17, Fleis­chl headed to Lon­don to train as a chef at the Savoy Ho­tel. Since then she has worked as a caterer in Mel­bourne and for the past 23 years has been run­ning her own cater­ing busi­ness. Like Brettschnei­der, Fleis­chl draws on her vast ex­pe­ri­ence when judg­ing the con­tes­tants’ kitchen ef­forts on The Great Kiwi Bake Off and says it will take, “A mix­ture of things” for some­one to win the com­pe­ti­tion. “We’re look­ing for the skills, the flavours, the knowl­edge, the pre­sen­ta­tion and the thing that’s been in­ter­est­ing about this whole pro­gramme is the stan­dard has been re­ally high be­cause bak­ing is cool,” she says.

“It re­ally is cool. The win­ning bak­ing is not just the pre­sen­ta­tion. It is the flavour, it is show­ing those skills. (The com­pe­ti­tion has) lots of twists and turns.”

Brettschnei­der is equally im­pressed with the bak­ing stan­dards on the TV show.

“Partly that’s at­trib­uted to the suc­cess of The Great Bri­tish Bake Off and the avail­abil­ity to see all the sea­sons,” he adds.

“I re­mem­ber al­most 20 years ago, writ­ing my first bak­ing book and no one re­ally wanted to pro­duce it.

“It was like ‘bak­ing, brown, bor­ing’. But now bak­ing for the last six, seven, eight years has been right at the top and there is still a num­ber of years that we’ve got left.

“It’s not dy­ing by any sense of imag­i­na­tion. That’s just be­cause it’s homely. It’s very cul­tural. New Zealand, luck­ily enough, is this cul­tural melt­ing pot of bak­ing from all around the world.”

The Great Bri­tish Bake Off has been a rat­ings hit in the UK, el­e­vat­ing judges Paul Hol­ly­wood and Mary Berry to celebrity sta­tus.

“I know Paul and Mary,” says Brettschnei­der. “Mary’s agent is my agent in the UK and they are just nice peo­ple but you know you’ve got 60 mil­lion peo­ple shout­ing down on them so they are al­most un­touch­able.”

No doubt Brettschnei­der and Fleis­chl will be com­pared with the fa­mous duo.

“It will al­ways hover over us I’m afraid,” says Fleis­chl.

“I some­times call her Mary,” teases Brettschnei­der.

“Peo­ple will be com­par­ing and we are very con­scious of that,” says Fleis­chl, “but hope­fully they won’t be dis­ap­pointed.”

Sue Fleis­chl and Dean Brettschnei­der

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