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BEST PRIZE: Cristalle Pereira

By: PRIYA MULJI

GREAT FINALIST BRITISH BAKE OFF CRYSTELLE PEREIRA RECALLS HIS COMPETING EXPERIENCE ON THE HIT SHOW

THE Great British Bake Off has become one of the most popular reality TV shows on the planet and the just concluded Season 12 had a strong British presence in Asia, with Crystelle Pereira and Chigs Parmar as finalists. . Customer relationship manager Crystelle used her brilliant pastry skills to make it to the final and became a favorite with millions of attendees every week.

Eye of the East caught up with the finalist to discuss her incredible trip to The Great British Bake Off and her future plans. She also gave pastry tips.

What first connected you to baking?
I love to cook from a young age. I used to watch my mom cook in the kitchen, while she gave me extra food next door, that’s where I learned the basics of cooking. However, over time my sisters (both of whom can’t cook but conveniently like carbs and sugar) began to demand cakes and bread from me. So naturally, my cooking expanded, and I started to teach myself the basics of baking.

What attracted you The Great British Cake?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the show, but never considered being a part of it. As I started to bake more, especially over the past year, my sisters started paying attention to what pastries I was going to bake and started telling me to apply for Pastry shop.

What was your first reaction?
(Laughs) I just said ‘no way José – you saw what they do on Pastry shop? ‘ But then they said ‘Crystelle, have you seen what you’re doing? That’s when I started to consider applying. I then chatted with my dad, who really inspired me to apply. He pursued his dreams at a very young age, arriving in UK from Kenya almost penniless and working tirelessly until he was successful in starting his own business. So he just told me to do it and to stop waiting for the ‘perfect moment’. I realized I had nothing to lose and just had to find the courage to apply.

How was the experience of being on the show?
I can say with confidence that this has truly been the best experience of my life. I like to call it “part vacation, part heavy cooking camp.” I’m taking a group of 11 new friends who are such special people to me. Plus, food is such an important part of my life, and being able to spend so many weeks in the Bake Off tent, experiencing and breathing all that baking, was literally a dream come true for me. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to do what I love, and on such a large scale.

Was there one aspect of the show that you found difficult?
I think of almost all the technical challenges! I consider myself to be a planner; I like having schedules and routes for everything and hate the unknown. So naturally I knew the technical challenges would throw me in. Probably the worst of the pack were those dreaded ciabatta breadsticks where I stupidly convinced myself that a ‘long lasting, short cook’ strategy was the way to go and boy, was I wrong? I will never be able to look at breadsticks the same way again.

Did your baking skills improve throughout the show?
Absoutely! I was really amazed at how much I learned along the way. My baking skills were pretty basic before I applied, and I got my first stand mixer for my 25th birthday last year. So if you had told me around this time last year that I would be making desserts, layered Bavarian desserts and gravity-defying cakes, I think I would have just laughed hysterically!

Why do you think the series is so popular around the world?
I know that as a spectator Pastry shop and especially the last episode, always gave me a lump in my throat, because it was so emotional. I think as viewers we find ourselves so attached to bakers because everyone’s got their hearts on their sleeve, and that’s what makes the series so special.

Cristelle Pereira at the Great British Bake Off
SWEET SUCCESS:
Cristelle Pereira at the Great British Bake Off

What makes it special?
There’s just something so healthy about Bake Off, isn’t there? The camaraderie among the bakers and the friendships that form between us, the diversity among the bakers (which means that each person in this tent brings them something unique and true), and the almost magical setting of this white tent. iconic, everything works in harmony to create such a special spectacle.

What was the experience of being in the final?
Honestly, I can’t explain the feeling of shock. I never thought, in a million years, that I would be in the tent in the first place, let alone spend the first week or the damn final. I never mentioned the final before Pastry shop and didn’t think about it. It was so unapproachable, and the prospect of making it was so unrealistic, so I focused on having a good time and doing my best. the Pastry shop The finale is one of those iconic moments I’ve watched on TV for so many years, and being a part of it was beyond my wildest dreams. The feeling was surreal and quite magical.

What has been the experience of being in the eye of the public and the press?
It’s crazy, but a nice kind of crazy. It sounds strange, but I often forgot that other people in the country were watching me on TV and following my trip. I’ve never met someone with the same name as me, so even hearing my own name on TV was mind-boggling. I had quite a few selfie requests on the way to work which was lovely but weird. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

What about all negativity?
Whenever possible, I have tried to avoid certain social media platforms like Twitter, which are more prone to negativity. It’s easier said than done, but I’ve always tried not to take negative feedback personally or seriously. As long as my family, friends, and most importantly, myself are proud of what I have accomplished, then I am happy.

What is the secret of a good pastry?
I don’t have years of experience to be able to give you the best technical tips in the business, but what I will say is cook with the heart. I love to feed people! Hosting and feasting on friends and family is my way of showing my love. You will probably have noticed this during the contest, where I dedicated most of my pastries to members of my family. For me, my family is the easiest place to get inspiration, and when you’re cooking with someone in mind, you’ll always go a little bit harder to make sure it’s really special.

Would you like to give us some good pastry advice?
I would say just don’t give up. Things rarely go right the first time you try something, and the more you practice, the more you’ll learn about the art and science of baking. And don’t be afraid to push the boat with the flavors too!

How about tips for a beginner baker?
There are so many different aspects to baking, and you certainly wouldn’t be expected to master them all. Start with basic recipes in one discipline (like cakes), and as you gain confidence you can start exploring other disciplines like bread, and you’ll soon find out what your favorite discipline is, as well as your favorite discipline. own cooking style. Don’t try to do it all at once!

What’s the plan after Bake Off?
I love my daily job, but I would like to present more Portuguese-Goan cuisine because it is something that I am very passionate about. India is a huge country, and I don’t think we appreciate how much the cuisine varies when traveling between different states and cities. I love trying different cuisines and experimenting with my flavors, so it would be amazing to travel the world (once Covid allows), try new wacky foods, and document the whole trip. I would love to do more with food, be it more baking and cooking, developing recipes, or educating people about my cooking. I’m just going to take one step at a time and see where it takes me.

What inspires you?
My inspirations are a mix of cooks and bakers – Nigella has to be up there, as well as pastry chef Dominique Ansel for his immense creativity and innovation. And of course, my Aunt Hazel, who passed all of her pipe fittings to me, which are now my most precious possessions.
Instagram: @crystellepereira

Quick Q&A with The Great British Bake Off finalist Chigs Parmar

FROM THE CUR: Chigs Parmar at the show
FROM THE CUR: Chigs Parmar at the show

What made you want to participate in The Great British Cake and how was the experience?
I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could cook alongside some of the best home bakers in the UK. It was one of the best things I have ever done.

What was the most difficult aspect for you?
Watching the baker leave after each episode (as we had gotten so close).

How much did the show help your baking skills?
Most people go on the show because they love to cook. I took a trip to the show and for myself I learned 60% of what I know now just being on the show. It was like an intense pastry apprenticeship for me.

What was the experience of being in the final?
I exceeded my own expectations so for me it was just another day in the tent, cooking with two amazing bakers.

What has it been like to be in the public eye since then and what about any negativity?
It was overwhelming in a positive way. Everyone has been incredibly supportive. I have thick skin and don’t mind negativity at all. I haven’t read a lot of negative reviews to tell you the truth.

What is the secret of a good pastry?
I just cook things that I love to eat and what my family and friends love. This way everything comes from the heart and you cook with passion. My advice is to never over-beat your cake batter.

What advice do you have for a beginner baker?
Never be afraid to make mistakes. Learn from them and try again.

What inspires you?
I take inspiration from everything, even the tiles in my sister’s bathroom.

Instagram: @thelatebloomeruk

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