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Q&A: Alvin

Alvin on what inspired him to bake, and how Paul and Mary affected his nerves in the tent…

What first inspired you to bake?

The very first baguette and brioche that my children ate were the ones I made, which I’m immensely proud of. Once I’d done that, it was impossible to go back to buying store bought ones.

What’s been your biggest baking disaster ever?

My biggest baking disaster was in 2011. I was learning how to make choux pastry and caramel for a croquembouche. I was too ambitious at the time attempting two very complicated things at the same time and the bake proved to be a monumental task for the amateur me. Nothing worked and I spent half a day in the kitchen! I was so exhausted and burned some of my fingers along the process.

And your baking triumph ever?

Croquembouche. Fraisier. Entremet.

How does the presence of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry affect your nerves in the tent?

First of all there’s sheer joy and happiness to be in the same room as these two icons… then panic sets in. Paul is the most down to earth person you could ever meet. He gives honest critique and imparts knowledge each time, so to receive feedback from him is just amazing. As for Mary, the doyenne of baking, what can I say? She is very inspiring. It’s almost humbling to be in her presence.

Which past Bake Off contestants have impressed you the most and why?

John Whaite. He’s my guru. The very first bake off I watched was his series and I was really amazed at his baking talent. I thought to myself I’d be very happy if I could have a quarter of his skill in baking.

What is your biggest fear in the kitchen?

Disappointing myself.

Quick questions…

Tea or coffee? Robust coffee
White or brown bread? White
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
Paul or Mary? Both!