‘The Great British Bake-Off’ adds an eye-catching ingredient into the mix this season
For a moment, it looked as if ‘The Great British Baking Show’ might become stale, having lost the sense of essentiality given to it by the pandemic. Do not mistake yourself; Good old “GBBO” (an acronym for its UK title “Great British Bake Off”) was a nice distraction before COVID was a thought, and will stick with us no matter what.
Now that more of us are hungry to leave the house rather than lie down with a sourdough starter, it stands to reason that one of the most popular comforts of the panny could be saved for later consumption instead of to be devoured every week. That was the theory until Nelsandro “Sandro” Farmhouse walked into the tent.
Sandro, as he is known, is one of 10 bakers to have survived the first three episodes of ‘The Great British Baking Show’ – including the dreaded Bread Week, the annual challenge that separates Star Bakers and Star Bakers – In-Waiting of the least consistent performers. Although it’s still early in the season, Sandro has reached or approached the next level in every episode, though he has yet to land the sought-after SB designation.
But what am I doing, rating this competitor for above average to excellent cooking ability? I could say the same for the other contestants in this Season 13, a few of which I’m looking for a bit more than Mr. Farmhouse, if we’re being honest. Still, I hope Sandro will stay for several more weeks for the most superficial reason.
The man is a snack.
‘The Great British Baking Show’ was never meant to be a beauty contest, although it was never short of attractive people either. It’s always felt like a matter of luck in an inclusive show that rewards skill and leaves no room for picking your way through challenges or being charmed.
The self-taught talent, artistry and creativity of home bakers will always be the main factors, it is assumed, that will determine who enters the tent.
Look, I’m not proud. But I am far from alone here.
Nonetheless, “GBBO” is a veteran show in an ever-changing television world and environment, and no television series is immune to a certain amount of producer manipulation, even one this pure in heart and soul. intention than this.
There’s a real feeling that by coming across Sandro, whether as an organic part of the casting process or following some “sourcing” advice, the producers of “GBBO” must have suspected they’d found the undiscovered maternal vein of telegenic talent. Here’s a muscular Adonis with a winning smile and a naturally flippant sense of humor, who never, ever skips Leg Day and seems to be okay with carbs. At least for the others.
Then came the frosting on the profile. “When Sandro, a fitness fanatic from East London, isn’t hitting the gym,” co-host Matt Lucas gently shares in the first episode’s introductory narration, “he’s working as a full-time nanny.”
At that, dear reader, I am ashamed to say that I let slip something improper and unfit for publication on my television, and in the presence of my incredibly handsome and very understanding husband, who had no never seen his wife turn into a Tex Avery cartoon.
The pandemic has changed us in unpredictable ways, hasn’t it?
Look, I’m not proud. But I am far from alone here. It seems Sandro’s presence has caused quite a stir in the “GBBO” fandom and related media coverage. “Girls, gays and everyone else, meet Sandro,” reads the opening line of a brief about him in Out Magazine.
Meanwhile, another site has done its part to make . . . Something? . . . perform while reading a lot in an Instagram photo of Sandro sharing the same bob as fellow castmate Rebecca “Rebs” Lightbody: “Bake Off stars Sandro and Rebs are starting to speculate they’re dating.” That’s entirely possible, but ignores Sandro’s prominent position in the previously quoted Out magazine article, as well as another titled ‘This Season of ‘Great British Bake Off’ Is Gay AF “.
None of this takes away from Sandro’s talent, backed up by the compliments he’s received from Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith based on his Signature, Technique and Showstopper pastries.
Sure, he trains twice a day, but instead of making him intimidating, this hobby goes hand in hand with his cooking.
For this Bread Week Showstopper, contestants were tasked with creating a Smörgåstårta, a cake-like Swedish dish using only bread and a savory filling. Sandro was “wrapped in maple bacon and cream cheese and filled with beef brisket, sloppy joe sauce and spicy sirloin steak” and, according to narration by Nigel Fielding, “was designed to meet special need”.
This need? Soaking up booze after too much frivolity at a music festival.
‘The Great British Bake Off’ will forever be defined by its camaraderie and the unusual level of support the contestants give each other when they are at an impasse. There is always an air of competition in the tent which is certainly more palpable in recent seasons than at the start of the show. Everyone understands that cake plates and a bouquet aren’t the only prizes a person can get for winning.
In the genre known to people who wonder if other suitors are there “for the right reasons”, Sandro’s motivations for excelling seem irrefutable.
These stakes have already sparked some controversy due to a Twitter user unearthing photos of rap stars enjoying his cakes, implying that Sandro was a ringer posing as a home baker. Sandro refuted these claims, according to Metro UK: “I never got paid for a celebrity cake that I made. It was gifts to those I was a fan of. That’s it.”
It should come as no surprise that one of TV’s most innocent shows is courting gossip about its suitors. A softer case arose in Season 12 when the public sent in finalists Chigs Parmar and Crystelle Pereira, which is an uncomfortable thing to do with two regular people.
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So does this burgeoning obsession with Sandro that grows in the audience, whether the man is looking for it or really only wants to be recognized for his talent for turning dough and dough into edible miracles. In a genre known for people who wonder if other suitors are there “for the right reasons”, Sandro’s motivations to excel seem beyond reproach.
According to his official biography from the show, he turned to baking at the age of 21 to recover from the death of his father. This is now her main passion, in addition to hosting virtual baking classes for children with autism. He’s a dreamer, but for many of the same reasons that make every “GBBO” baker worth spending time with: he’s good at baking and seems like a really good person.
Drool if you must, but consider redirecting that lust to appreciation for her burger-shaped macarons, that delicious cookie mask, or miniature chocolate-orange cakes topped with a white candy rose. It’s only natural that our favorite show and the people in its cast make us feel things. In some cases, however, the best way to deal with these feelings is to eat them.
New episodes of “The Great British Baking Show” debut Fridays on Netflix.
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