The former contestant says GBBO offers a “defanged kind of representation, softened in butter and swaddled with pillowy frosting.”
Ruby Tandoh made it to the finals on season four of The Great British Bake Off, and like many contestants, has been able to pivot her success on the show into a career in the baking and food world. Tandoh (an Eater contributor) is also a woman of color, and in an essay for Heated, writes about how GBBO launches the careers of people of color and introduces viewers to diversity, while still conversely remaining “steeped in the symbolism of an old-fashioned, implicitly white Britishness.”
She writes of the popularity of former contestants like Nadiya Hussain, Kim-Joy Hewlett, and Benjamina Ebuehi, who have published cookbooks and found Instagram fame and, in the case of Hussain, become a “national treasure” and TV host. But anyone who’s watched GBBO also knows how prickly the judges get when they think something has too much spice, how easily they exoticize non-British foods, and how the standard marker of a good baker is their ability to make a Victoria Sponge. And contestants of color are often subject to unfair criticism from viewers; Tandoh herself was criticized for smiling both too much and not enough. Sexist viewers also criticized her for supposedly flirting with judge Paul Hollywood to stay on the show, something she always spoke out against, even mentioning it when she publicly came out as queer on Twitter.
Still, she writes, “Bake Off has become a strange vehicle for change: a cultural moment that, almost in spite of itself, metabolizes Black and brown talent into something bright and new.”
And in other news...
- A poodle that only eats chicken was taken to McDonald’s by her handler before competing in Westminster. She is now one of the four best in show finalists. [WTMJ]
- Pizza Hut is making a mozzarella stick crust. [QSR]
- A New York bodega is offering some customers free food if they can answer quick math questions. [CNN]
- WeWork is betting it all on Food Labs, a work space and incubator for food startups. No word on how much citrus is in the water. [Fast Company]
- 2019 was apparently a “pivotal” year for Popeyes, according to the company that owns it. [CNN]
- Families are now staging food fights in professional portraits, which probably has something to do with Instagram. [WSJ]
- Chef Dominique Crenn is engaged to actor Maria Bello. [Twitter]