Pastry chefs beware! Bake Off Crème de la Crème is back this week, and it sounds like show judge Cherish Finden is going to be tougher than ever...
Cherish terrified professional pastry chefs on the last series of BBC2’s Crème de la Crème by getting her ruler out to make sure their creations met her exacting millimetre perfect standards.
And the blunt judge has bad news for the teams competing in the new series of the Bake Off spin off – she’s bought herself a spirit level!
"The chefs look very, very nervous when I get out my spirit level," smiles the multi award-winning pastry chef, who's again joined by co-judge Benoit Blin – Claire Clark hasn’t returned. "But I think they know from watching me on the first series that I'm quite mindful about precision."
Cherish with fellow judge Benoit Blin (R) and new host Angus Deayton
The big changes from last year are that Angus Deayton has taken over presenting duties from Tom Kerridge and there's a new knockout format where one team is sent home each week. Here, Cherish tells us more…
What's Angus brought to the show? "He's so funny. My English isn't really good, so he's acted like my English teacher. There's one phrase he uses which I really like, 'Up my street'. I love it. I've picked it up from Angus and now I can use it myself. We also have a new knockout format, which makes the show even more challenging for the chefs."
New host Angus has been teaching Cherish some English phrases
Are you just as tough in this series? "Well, at times I want to roll up my sleeves and jump in and help them. I guess I have to be truthful to myself. To get a nine out of 10 from me is really, really tough, unless it's perfection. I'm looking for a top-notch pastry chef to win the competition. It did make me upset when I made someone cry in the last series, but what I said came from the heart."
What's your biggest ever kitchen disaster? "I was once asked to make a showpiece for Christmas. I spent hours and hours creating it and it was over two metres long with nearly 9,000 sweets on top. Anyway I needed to take it up in a hotel lift and it turned out it was too wide to get in the lift! So, I had to break it all up and take it up piece by piece."
Cherish makes mouth-watering pastries with military precision
Do you set yourself career goals? "All the time. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night because my mind is functioning all of the time. Like last night I woke up and I had to Google the answer for something. If I can't find out what I want to know I can't get back to sleep."
What reaction have you had following the first series? "I've had a lot of children writing to me and saying that I've actually inspired them – I thought I was meant to be scary! A group of children came to The Langham Hotel in London, where I worked until February, for afternoon tea and I showed them around the kitchen. I felt so good that they had got into cooking because of me and they even brought along their own rulers to show me!"
Bake Off Crème de la Crème starts on BBC2, Tuesday, April 4, 8.00pm
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