Mary Berry loves baking.In fact, she loves it so much, she recently divulged to Graham Norton that she once got arrested for lugging baking produce to the US in her suitcase.
But take the Berry out of baking and, well, it feels like something’s missing. A feeling fans of The Great British Bake Off judge know only too well following her decision last year not to follow the show to Channel 4.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though – a peak in the meringue if you like – because Queen Mary Berry is back on our screens very soon. This time she’s on a mission to find the nation’s best home cook in a brand new BBC One cookery competition, aptly named Britain’s Best Home Cook.
In a TV schedule already packed with plenty of other cookery competitions, what will make this rise above the rest?
“I think the simplicity of it, because all we want are the best home cooks,” Berry says.
She is back in the judging hot seat and will be joined by presenter Claudia Winkleman and co-judges Chris Bavin, a produce expert, and renowned chef Dan Doherty.
The series will see her preside over 10 budding cooks, including 27-year-old Cyrus Kay from York, each of whom is vying to be named the most exceptional home cook in all the land as they grapple with cooking challenges that certainly weren’t designed with ready meal fans in mind. She’s keen to do away with “fancy food” and “complicated stuff”, which may help set the show apart from others, such as MasterChef. That’s not to say the new eight-part series isn’t oozing with culinary moments of brilliance.
Described as an “immersive cooking competition”, the show sees 10 contestants from across the UK living together in a house as they do battle in the kitchen. Each episode will see them face three challenges, the first of which – the Your Ultimate challenge – gives the home cooks a chance to flaunt their talents by serving up a signature dish of theirs. The winner, or winners, of round one will then choose a main ingredient that must be used prominently by everyone in a newly-invented dish for the second round, the Cooks Challenge.
“They don’t know what’s in that store cupboard, or in the fridge. They might have decided to do something with almonds and they’ve worked it all out in their heads, but they get here and there’s no almonds so they have to think again,” Berry teases of the jeopardy-laden task.
Round three, the Elimination Round, puts those who failed to impress in the previous rounds to the test as they must recreate a tricky recipe flawlessly. And, to make it even more problematic, the cooks are only given the exact amount of ingredients needed. If they go wrong, there are no second chances.
Britain’s Best Home Cook starts BBC One 8pm May 3