SALINAS – Since Giuseppe Dell’Anno, an Italian-born resident of the UK, outplayed 11 other hobby bakers to win not money, but an etched glass cake stand at the end of season 12 of the “Great British Baking Show,” fans around the world have been eagerly awaiting the Season 13 premiere of the widely televised baking competition.
During each episode of the 10-week show known as the ‘Great Bake Off’ in the UK, contestants work in well-equipped individual kitchens in a large white tent on the gracious grounds of Down Hall, a luxury country hotel and, before the pandemic, in the stately Welford Park estate in Berkshire. Participants have a few hours to complete a “Signature Bake”, a simple recipe, adding their own touch; a “technical challenge”, a complex recipe missing key information that they must solve; and the “Showstopper,” a dramatic bake in which contestants must dazzle the judges with their artistry and talent.
Nobody fights. Nobody argues. Applicants often help each other out and just about everyone cries when someone is rejected. The judges and MCs have bright eyes, a quick British humor and lots of pronunciations or vocabulary foreign to the generally less formal American English vernacular. Which is a big part of entertainment.
One season Somerset vet Rosie Brandreth-Poynter was decorating her cake, when she looked around to observe that everyone’s confection was more ornate than her own. “Oh my God,” she muttered, “I’m just going to have to titillate my cake.” At that time, American viewers across the country took to their cell phones to search for the definition of “titiver” — to introduce small, improved changes.
The Great British Baking Show is so popular; it’s no wonder English expats Lesley Everett, originally from Suffolk on the southeast coast, and her husband, Chris Swainson, who is from the northwest of England, decided to buy Blue Aces Bake Shoppe in Salinas and make it their own, they named it “The Great British Bake Shop”.
The couple, who also own “Walking Tall”, a leadership and branding business, met in 2009 on Match.com and married two years later at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. It was a dream to move to the area where they got married. Yet over time they realized they missed their classic British pastries, especially the meat pies that Everett May’s grandmother and mother Irene used to make for her.
“Every time we saw a sign on the road advertising homemade pies,” Everett said, “we realized they were fruit pies. We craved ham and egg pies, pies to steak and beer and sausage rolls which were a tradition in my family.
It was Chris who suggested the couple start a baking business.
A taste of home
For the past year, the couple have been baking meat pies and other traditional British pastries in Sweet Reba’s kitchen at Crossroads Carmel. Their voices resonate with the authority of an English rhythm, and Reba Wilson says their pastries are as authentic as their accents.
“As a business coach through her company Walking Tall, Lesley has really helped us grow our business,” Wilson said. “She was telling us how she and Chris were running out of good British food and wanted to make pies. As we are closed on Sundays, we offered them our kitchen and became a pick up point for their pre-ordered pies until they opened their bakery.
So far, Everett and Swainson have baked a big vegetable pie with a hint of Indian spice, “quite a staple of the English diet”, as well as sausage rolls, Bakewell pies with jams from raspberries and freshly ground almonds and frangipani, and one of the buttery shortbread, apparently the queen’s favourite.
Rumor has it that as The Great British Bake Shop opens on Monday, the very first customer will be Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. The monarch, who on her 90th birthday reportedly enjoyed a three-tiered gold and purple cake baked by Nadiya Hussain, the 2015 winner of The Great British Bake Off, is said to be a fan of the show, as is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Hard to believe the 96-year-old Queen of England or her corgis will cross the pond to Salinas for a biscuit. However, she is renowned for her sweet tooth, especially chocolate, and she has been known to start her day by enjoying a cup of tea and some cookies. Curious bakery guests should arrive, as soon as the bakery opens at 10 a.m., to see who shows up.
Located at 8 W. Gabilan Street in Salinas, The Great British Bake Shop is recognizable by its logo, its dramatic mural of a London skyline and some very British icons, such as Mary Poppins and Paddington Bear, loved on both sides of the world. ‘pond. .