Once I knew I had got through the auditions I made the mistake of rewatching Episode 1 of series 5 and that frightened the life out of me. The reality suddenly hit me so I started practising with things like spun sugar, I gave it one go, and luckily I never needed it in the tent.
I used to take all my bakes into work for the crew at the fire station and it became a running joke. It was always good to feed 10 or 12 hungry blokes and the guys have given really good support, I was expecting a bit of ribbing but it hasn’t happened so far.
I started baking as I work a shift pattern of four days on and four days off, and it was a way of filling your day. You get time off in the week, and rather than sitting watching telly I got into baking. It’s the sort of hobby that is addictive and there is always something new sweet or savoury to try.
Since Bake Off I have absolutely become a better baker, there are things that I would never have tried, for example the Spanische Windtorte, so it has made me a more confident baker.
I felt from the beginning that I was surrounded by better bakers, my knowledge was nowhere near their level. I had probably baked 20 different things in my life at that stage, and when I was talking to some of the other bakers – their breadth of knowledge was very daunting. But I made it to Week 7 and I am pretty proud of that, I was only one episode away from being a semi finalist. Considering I didn’t think I would get to Week 2 that is pretty amazing!
One of my best moments was getting Star Baker in Week 6, when Paul and Mary both liked my vol-au-vents. It was one of my best weeks, just a shame I went out the following week!
I knew I was out of my depth in Victorian week with the techniques and the bakes involved. Some of the recipes we were given in advance but I never practised because I didn’t ever expect to get to Week 7. I know for sure I won’t ever make a Charlotte Russe ever again! It went quite badly on the show but I said to Mary it was actually the best one I ever made. You are trying to cage a jelly with one of the world’s flimsiest biscuits, it’s a crazy thing to make.
My wife Alex is just about to give birth, so to have been on Bake Off, become a father for the first time, and move house, is pretty life changing. It’s been an incredible adventure and I am now just waiting for the fun to start with a new baby. It was really hard work on the show, but I had an absolute blast, I really did.
My mum loves the show, so do all the family, and I am now getting asked to make cakes for any celebration. I was a secret baker before, and some of my aunties only knew for the first time that I baked when they saw me on the show.
Life returns to normal and I will continue to work for London Fire Brigade, but I am baking all the time now, I absolutely love it. There was a build up to the whole show, and a pressure to learn whereas now I am back to baking for the actual love of it, and the joy of baking.
I shall be proudly watching my fellow bakers complete the series with a cold beer and a smile on my face, knowing I am not in the tent. Every bit of the show was such a brilliant experience, working with the crew, meeting Mel & Sue and getting great comments from Mary & Paul’s judging was exciting and unexpected. It’s like getting a good report at school, and I felt I might try harder next time.
I am a pretty happy go lucky bloke, and I had nothing to take from the show, I just entered for a laugh but then once you get into it you imagine you are half decent. I never took myself too seriously as you then lose the fun of it. I always reminded myself that I am on a programme that people love to watch, and if you are not enjoying it then go home.