The Great British Bake Off: The seventh baker leaves the tent
In Tuesday’s night’s episode of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off temperatures soared in the show’s first ever Italian week. Steven was named Star Baker for the third time, and Yan 46, was the seventh baker to leave the tent.
Going in to Italian week Yan described it as ‘bootcamp for bakers’ as the bakers were challenged to tackle Sicilian cannoli, a classic pizza and Sfogliatelle, one of the most complex Italian pastries.
Speaking about her time in the tent Yan said ‘From the very moment I stepped into the tent, and started competing against so many great bakers, it really lifted my game. It’s about making yourself better, and we all wanted to nurture our talent collectively.
‘I had such great support from friends and family. Marian is my wife of 17 years. She keeps me grounded, and has been my marshmallow throughout the whole experience. At times it’s been a bit overwhelming for me, but she has constantly kept me grounded.
‘I bake every other day using my Muvver sourbread starter – I called it that because she is the mother of all my sourdoughs.
On her new found fame she commented ‘I was completely surprised at the interest on social media about me. The phrases that I said on the show that I don’t really remember now saying have become some kind of hit on social media. Everything I say just comes out spontaneously, my family call them Yannisms. Every time I reference a movie, or something obscure Twitter goes mad - it’s a whole new world to me – but I am enjoying it. It’s actually been breathtaking for me; I haven’t ever experienced anything like it before.
Speaking about some of her best and worst bakes she said ‘We don’t have Fortune Cookies in Hong Kong, it’s an American invention. So the Fortune Cookie is something I never cooked. Of all of my bakes I made in the tent, the mango steamed pudding is the closest to my culture.
‘A lot of the time I see myself as British as I have lived here since the age of 2. Of course I respect my culture and I do go back to Hong Kong regularly. I do cook Chinese at home, and a real treat for us is to go out for Dim Sum with the family. We go back every couple of years to Hong Kong and it’s important to see my family that still live there.
‘The Portuguese 7 are my closest circle, so they are: my wife and I, my little brother Yee and his wife, Sonal, my good friend Mali and her husband Steve, and Parul. I have known these people for a long, long time and they are very important to me. We are called the Portuguese 7 because we went on holiday together to Portugal and there were 7 of us! Every week during transmission of the series, I bake bread and the Signature of the Week and we all share that together.
‘It’s not about impressing the judges it’s about surviving; I was under no illusion when I went in the tent. I researched that Prue liked a bit of spice so I was able to introduce the flavours I like - garlic and chilli. Paul, wow well if you want to impress the master baker you have to get your breads right. I got great comments from both Paul and Prue, and what I liked about them both that if there were negative comments they would always follow that up with advice.
‘Noel and Sandi – I loved them…. They dissipated any pressure, they were so lovely. I absolutely loved their sense of humour, the banter and their kindness. I loved the whole baking process but overall I loved the fun and the laugh of it all. It’s about wanting to take it seriously but at the same time having a good laugh.
‘I probably forgot at times that it was a competition, and I really liked helping my fellow bakers as they had become my friends and I felt that we were part of the family. It’s the whole nature of the show.
‘To get through to seven weeks is an amazing achievement. I really thought I was leaving on Caramel Week in Episode 4 so I was so pleased that I got to Episode 7. It was the hottest day of the year, and it was the longest day of the year, in more ways than one for me.
‘Football is my other passion, we went to Canada to watch Women’s World Cup in 2015, and are planning to go to the next World Cup in France in 2019. I rarely play now but when I do I really enjoy it but unfortunately it takes me a week to recover.
‘I came off my scooter before Bread Week and I cut my chin badly, it’s all seen on screen and I am waiting for the scars to heal. Perhaps I will keep it as a memory of Bake Off!
‘My best moment was the Hollywood Handshake in pudding week for my mango pudding. I was so surprised and you can see it on my face, I just wasn’t expecting it. The collective best was the whole experience of being in the tent - it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
‘Even the bad moments are good because I felt was really learning all the time. I took something away from every bad moment. I learned in Italian week that I wasn’t Italian! I think their food is amazing but unfortunately I couldn’t replicate it.
‘I had a great life before the tent and continue to have a great life now. Being in this competition has made me a better person; it has been so worthwhile to be part of it. If you can honestly say you tried your best, then you can’t do more than that. And to save lives through my work, obviously.’
Paul said: ‘You did really, really well.’
Prue added: ‘Poor Yan, I mean everybody loves Yan, and I am sorry as anybody to see her go’.
Yan: ‘I am amazed how far I have come, it’s been difficult, tough, but an amazing experience. It’s been the best. I have had a totally wonderful adventure, thank you so much’.
Chuen-Yan ‘Yan’ (Aged 46) – North London
Yan lives in North London with her wife, Marian, cat Kacey and her sourdough starter called ‘Muvver’. Yan was born in Hong Kong and moved to the UK when she was two, with her parents and brother Ken, she also has another brother Yee, and sister Ying. Yan eventually trained as a Biomedical Scientist and now works for The Francis Crick Institute as a Laboratory Research Scientist. Growing up in a Chinese household meant Yan’s family would steam rather than bake and used their oven as storage space. Yan began to take baking more seriously ten years ago when she found herself in between 24 hour shifts, working as a molecular biologist for the NHS.
Yan will join Jo Brand on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Thursday 12 October, Channel 4 at 10.00 pm.