Life has been a whirlwind for Candice Brown since winning the BBC’s last ever series of Great British Bake Off. Here, she tells The Resident why she loves baking so much, launching a make-up range and appearing at Foodies Festival Blackheath
The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is a rather strange phenomenon. Baking was always something mum or dad did on a lazy Sunday afternoon – I will never forget the smell of a freshly baked bread and butter pudding – but nobody expected it to be such a ratings hit. Especially one that caused uproar when it was announced that BBC were losing the rights to screen it, along with all the presenters, bar one silver-haired fox. You couldn’t make it up.
Well, the BBC did just that and more. Unlike some of the unsuccessful creations on the show, it continued to rise and rise. The most recent winner, Candice Brown, certainly knows that. Type in her name into Google and you’ll find gossip websites featuring her, plus as many references to her striking shades of lipstick as well as her actual baking skills.
Despite suddenly becoming an overnight celebrity, with all the trappings that fame can bring, Brown has no regrets. ‘I wouldn’t change a second of this,’ she says, speaking to The Resident ahead of her starring appearance at Foodies Festival in Blackheath this month. ‘I have the opportunity to do things now that I would never have dreamed of. Everyday I feel lucky.’
And on the negativity that has occasionally reared its head online? ‘I remember all the amazing people I’ve met and how lucky I am. I am only human so sometimes it is hurtful, but the positivity far outweighs the negative.’
Get her talking about her passion for baking and that’s more than clear to see. ‘You are never too young to start in the kitchen,’ says Brown, who started baking at the grand old age of four.
Cooking and baking is a life skill, and something that everyone should try and not be fearful of – I had a red velvet cake once multiply in size in the oven. It was like something out of a horror film
‘Cooking and baking is a life skill, and something that everyone should try and not be fearful of – I had a red velvet cake once multiply in size in the oven. It was like something out of a horror film – it just kept growing and spilling and overflowing! I am happiest when I am up to my elbows in flour, chocolate in my hair and icing sugar in the air.’
Her stint at the Foodies Festival will come off the back of a host of public appearances, where she has had the opportunity to meet some A-list stars: ‘I was completely star struck by Sir Chris Hoy and was really nervous about speaking to him as he is an absolute legend. I made a right wally out of myself,’ she laughs.
‘I met a couple of the Spice Girls too, and that was amazing. They were my childhood! The most difficult thing for me [since winning the show] was probably adjusting to not being a teacher or going to school for weeks [she was a PE teacher at Ashlyns School in Berkhamsted]. I do miss teaching, I think about it everyday, but I have the opportunity to do something I may never get again, so I intend to grab it with both hands and enjoy every second.’
So what does she do to relax? ‘I bake,’ she says laughing. ‘That’s always been my go-to when I need to switch off.’
How would she sum up her baking style? ‘Old fashioned, but with a twist, and big, homely and hearty. You eat with your eyes first so it’s important that bakes look good visually, but flavour is the most important factor for me. I love simple, rustic looking bakes.’
Who knows what the future may hold for Candice Brown. She offers a tantalising teaser of a first baking book (‘Keep your eyes peeled’) and laughs about having her own make-up range (‘Imagine how fun the research will be’), but right now it’s all about Foodies Festival.
‘I love baking in front of people and interacting,’ she says. ‘Meeting everyone is very special. People knowing my name is very strange, but I have been given the most amazing opportunities and met the most incredible people.’
Candice Brown will be appearing at the Foodies Festival Blackheath Cakes & Desserts Theatre at 12.30pm on Sunday 9 July.
GET FREE ENTRY TO FOODIES FESTIVAL BLACKHEATH ON FRIDAY 7 JULY 2017 BY QUOTING “THE RESIDENT GUESTLIST” ON THE DOOR
Foodies festival blackheath highlights
Foodie fans can look forward to a celebrity and Michelin-starred chef line-up in the Chefs Theatre this summer, with Britain’s top chefs showcasing their culinary skills and inspiring the audience with their delicious dishes. There will be a focus on culinary wellness, with farm-to-table dishes, sugar-free cooking and ‘feel good’ food trends.
Top chefs in the Chef’s Theatre include:
• Rosemary Shrager – Judge on BBC’s The Big Family Cooking Showdown
• Atul Kochhar – Twice Michelin Starred Chef at Benares
• Adam Simmonds – Michelin Star Chef at The Test Kitchen
• Emma Spitzer – Author of Fress and MasterChef Finalist 2015
• Adria Wu – Maple & Fitz
• Gary Angler – Michelin Star Chef at Angler
• Katy Beskow – Little Miss Meat Free and Great Vegan Bake Off Winner
• Dhruv Baker – The Jolly Gardener and MasterChef Winner 2010
• Jamie Thickett – Veneta
• Richard O’Connell – Tom’s Kitchen
• Selin Kiazim – Oklava
• Tony Rodd – Well Dressed Plates and MasterChef Finalist 2015
• Tam Storrar – Blanchette
• Ugne Bubnaityte – Great British Bake Off Finalist
• Jack Layer & Billy Wright – MasterChef Finalists 2015
At the Cakes & Desserts Theatre there will be top local bakers as well as Candice Brown, baking extraordinaire Charlotte White and master chocolatier Fiona Sciolti inspiring visitors to reach for their spatulas. There’s masterclasses and a competition judged at 3pm each day (a KitchenAid Mini is up for grabs).
Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the Vintage Tea Room. There’s also a focus on health and wellness in the Healthy Living Zone.
Meanwhile in the Drinks Theatre, meet expert mixologists and sommeliers including Neil Phillips and Charles Metcalfe. Make sure you also meander down Street Food Avenue to sample global flavours and stock up on produce at the Artisan Producers Market, which has over 200 stalls with outstanding local cheeses, melt-in-the-mouth brownies and chutneys.