The Version Interview... Tom from The Great British Bake Off 2017.
When Tom came face to face with Prue Leith for the first time in this year’s Bake Off tent, he admits it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences ever – because he was desperate to impress her.
The 29-year-old architect decided to apply to go on this year’s series after watching back-to-back episodes of the show one day when he was off work ill.
Very familiar with Paul’s tough talking but honest critiques, he says Prue was the one judge he really did feel nervous about.
“Prue was the unknown in terms of Bake Off because it’s her first series as a judge,” he explains. “I was more nervous about what she would say as I knew she was really into her flavours. With Paul, I knew he would be tough to crack but I really wanted Prue to like my cake!
“Thankfully I am good with taking criticism because as part of my degree course, you regularly had to stand up every week and be told what was right or wrong. I can take things on the chin. I am all for criticism. It’s important to learn.”
He describes the first day on set as ‘surreal’.
“I wasn’t shaking when I walked in for the first time,” admits Tom. “But it was kind of surreal. It felt familiar in one sense because you had seen it so many times on television but it felt unfamiliar in another. All the equipment is new and everything is different. It’s totally different to your own kitchen.”
Tom has been a passionate baker for many years. His mum works as a Home Economics teacher and both his grandmothers loved making cakes. His sister owns a teashop. “My whole family loves baking and my partner had been encouraging me for some time to apply,” explains the friendly baker. “He thought I would enjoy the experience and I am so glad I did take his advice and apply. Everyone in my family is so chuffed for me that I’ve got to be part of the 12 bakers who are in this year’s tent.”
Practice, practice, practice has been Tom’s motto from the start. Says Tom: “You are thinking about it all the time – the recipes, the cakes, what cake to make for your signature but it’s enjoyable at the same time because there is that end goal of standing proudly with your cake in the tent!”
He says he learnt so much during the first day of filming. “You immediately meet all these like-minded people and I quickly started to learn from them so much,” adds Tom. “There’s a lot of expectation but by swapping ideas, you can learn how to do things better. It’s also nice to be able to crack a joke about pastry with someone who will laugh as well!”
He says he isn’t sure yet if he’d ditch his career as an architect. “Yet even that first day has definitely made me walk away and feel a lot more confident,” reveals Tom. “I also really like the fact I’ve made so many new friends.”
This year’s GBBO bakers have already formed a new WhatsApp group – and a close-knit bond that they are doing something so uniquely together has been formed, adds Tom. “I guess I am as ready as I can be for what is to come now it is going to start soon,” says Tom. “I am realistic about what to expect and what a wonderful challenge it is to be part of…”