Bake Off is back, but not as we know it. Looking to capitalise on the astronomical success of the Great British Bake Off, Love productions have set their sights on bringing the creations of gifted pastry chefs to the masses. Essentially Bake Off’s answer to Masterchef: The Professionals, Bake Off Crème de la Crème is substantially different to the much loved original. Gone are the home bakers, replaced by trained patisserie-perfectionists working furiously in teams of three to create edible masterpieces.
With Michelin-starred Tom Kerridge taking the reigns from the affable Sue and Mel, a high bar was set for selecting judges to fill the roles of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. The chef contestants will come up against highly respected industry greats Cherish Finden, Benoit Blin and Claire Clarke, bringing their combined wisdom to the table to offer insightful critiques. Although they represent the cream of the crop of the pastry world, their names will be unfamiliar to most outside of this sphere. Take a look at the impressive credentials of this talented trio of judges.
Singaporean IKA Culinary Olympic gold medal winner Cherish Finden is best known as the executive pastry chef at the luxury Langham Hotel in London. Cherish has taken the title in competitive cookery categories such as Dessert of the Year and Pastry Chef of the Year, awarded by the Craft Guild of Chefs.
Benoit Blin is trusted by Raymond Blanc to produce magnificent patisserie in the world renowned 2 Michelin star gourmet retreat Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, where he is Chef Patissiere. He sits on the judging panel of competitions such as the UK Pastry Open, and the UK and European Sugar Championships. He holds the prestigious title of Master of Culinary Arts, awarded every four years to the only the most exceptional of chefs.
Claire Clark counts Buckingham Palace and numerous high profile celebrities as clients of her thriving catering company. In addition to being awarded an MBE, she has held the role of senior pastry lecturer at the Cordon Bleu culinary institute and worked under legendary Thomas Keller as head pastry chef in Napa Valley’s 3 Michelin star French Laundry.
With CVs as decorated as theirs, its easy to see why these patisserie champions have been entrusted with putting the creme de la creme of pastry chefs through their paces.
Bake Off Crème de la Crème airs Tuesdays at 8pm on BBC2.