It’s all over but the airing of the eight episodes on television and Lauren Tjoe cannot say a thing about it.
Tjoe, 21, a Tsawwassen resident and a finance student at UBC, competed in the Great Canadian Baking Show on CBC where 10 bakers from across Canada tried to impress the judges with their savoury desserts and breads.
Taping of the show took place over eight weeks in Toronto this summer but the series doesn’t start airing until Oct. 2. And until then, Tjoe cannot say a word about how she did.
The event though definitely wasn’t about the money.
The winner of the marathon competition is awarded the title of Canada's Best Amateur Baker – and a ceremonial plate.
Tjoe said having a plate as a prize, instead of a big amount of cold cash, made for a more supportive environment within the big tent where the culinary delights were created.
“I think the show kind of renewed my love of baking,” she said.
Her competitors, her fellow bakers, will become lifelong friends, she said.
“Overall, it was a really positive experience.”
Tjoe also faced a unique challenge that others did not. Because she’s gluten intolerant, she could not taste or test what she was baking. Usually, when baking in her home kitchen, her family helped out and gave her feedback but in the competition, she had to rely on her fellow bakers.
“So it’s all about the process. It was all based on feedback from other people,” Tjoe said. “It’s very comforting and very therapeutic. I bake purely for other people.”
She’s been watching and waiting to get on to the show since she was in Grade 10 and was also inspired by the Great British Bake Off TV show.
With both Asian and European family backgrounds, she borrowed from both, using her childhood memories to provide inspiration for unique dishes.
“Two years ago, when the pandemic started, I really got serious. I was baking nearly every day for a stretch of one and a half years,” she recalled.
She still bakes a couple of times a week and bread is still her favourite.
Each episode of The Great Canadian Baking Show had three challenges, a signature bake, a technical bake and a showstopper bake. The first and last were able to be rehearsed but the technical bake was unknown until the challenge was revealed by the judges. Some recipes Tjoe practised three times but others, six or seven times. She prepared for one showstopper and signature for each episode, with each week having a special theme.
But there’s a limit to the number of recipes you can prepare if you don’t know how far you’ll go in the competition.
According to her profile on the show’s website, Tjoe is a “self-described, 21-year-old grandma.”
In addition to baking, her hobbies include knitting, crocheting, sewing, and collecting vintage tea pots. She also likes classic cars, especially from the 1950s and 1960s and heavy metal. And she’d really like to get a 1986 Toyota MR2.
With the baking all done, Tjoe just has to sit back and watch the show, like anyone else, starting in October.
“I think this one may have been enough stress for a lifetime,” she said. “I think I’m good, (as in having had enough) for competition but I’ll always bake.”