By Allison Yeh
Warning: This is not Cutthroat Kitchen but rather a dozen amateur bakers with soothing British accents making biscuits and other delightful treats in a tent. That being said, The Great British Baking Show, available on Netflix, is life changing. Never before had I craved sponge cake or felt compelled to analyze the sogginess of a pie. The soothing background music paired with an even keeled narrator voice eases any tension felt by the people competing against one another. The judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (real names, I swear), love using constructive criticism and often express sheer joy at a contestant’s “good bake.” They also love eating the food and making it look exceptionally “scrummy.”
The show is set up in 50 minute episodes containing three challenges: Signature Bake, Technical Challenge, and Showstopper, all surrounding a theme (eg. pastry day). The contestants’ range in age and background – a middle aged firefighter or a seventeen year-old girl living at home – are refreshing after watching shows like Chopped where professional cooks call upon their egos to help them through each challenge.
Another unique aspect about the show is how it informs the viewer of baking techniques. Contestants will give advice as they bake of what will make their cream “curdle” or how to get the best caramel. Not only are you watching an exciting competition, but also you are remotely learning how to bake. It’s only natural that at the end of binging all three seasons you may feel feel qualified to judge a dessert at a restaurant on its uneven layers of icing or it’s close textured sponge. While Chef’s Table may promote a sense of culture in your air of fine dining, The Great British Baking Show allows you to feel like an expert in the field of enriched dough versus regular dough. With quirky side notes and two show hosts whose presence seems annoyingly extraneous, GBBS takes on a whole new genre of food competitions, and perhaps highlights how America does it all wrong. After all, the winner of the show receives a nice glass trophy and nothing more.