Channel 4’s expert baking show, Bake Off: The Professionals, returned on 25 May for it’s fourth series.
If you are a food enthusiast with a passion for fine dining, petit fours and some healthy (not referring to the desserts) competition, then this is the show you need to be watching.
So, what is the show about and when is it on TV? This is what you need to know.
What is the format of Bake Off: The Professionals?
Bake Off: The Professionals is a baking competition whereby teams of chocolatiers and pastry chefs compete to be crowned the best professional baking team.
The teams of two must already work together at a high-end patisserie, five-star hotel or Michelin-starred restaurant. The teams are made up of the head pastry chef and one of their colleagues.
The first section of the competition is the heats, with six groups showcasing their finesse in the two challenges. In the first task, ‘miniatures challenge’, contestants must produce two types of miniature classics - transforming well known cakes into delicate petit fours.
Each group must make a total of 24, a dozen of each dessert, in just three and a half hours.
Then the showpiece challenge separates the soggy bottoms from the bouncy buns.
This challenge gives teams the opportunity to demonstrate their flare and innovation, creating a fine dining experience from an ordinary dessert - displayed on edible sculptures.
The show’s format has changed year on year, but generally the best two or three teams from each week of heats will progress into the quarter finals, then the semis and concluding with a stunning final - often consisting of a fine-dining art experience and themed show-stoppers which move and depict a story.
Who are the Bake Off: The Professionals judges?
The show is judged by top patisserie experts Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden, and it’s safe to say that neither have the softly spoken, maternal approach of Mary Berry or Prue Leith.
Singapore-born Finden is the matriarch of British pastry, at the top of her game as the Executive Pastry Chef at The Langham in London.
Finden moved to London 20 years ago, following extensive training under her mentors Peter A. Knipp, followed by Martin Chiffers.
Finden began cooking at the age of eight, spurred on from the praise she received at home when she began cooking for her siblings when her father got sick and her mother had to work.
Aged 16, she became a waitress and then ventured into the kitchen where she got work experience as a pastry chef. She once said that patisserie is not baking, “it is edible art”.
She is now a multi-award winner and is best known for her stunning creations and innovative and imaginative menu at the Langham hotel’s centrepiece, Palm Court.
Benoit Blin was born in Normandy, France, where he learned to bake from a young age - he was friends with local bakers’ sons and would spend his days playing in the back house of the boulangeries.
He said that it “seemed natural” to take on an apprenticeship, first as a baker before progressing to specialising in pastry.
Blin spent time in some of the most exclusive hotels in France, and in 1991 he took up the role of Senior Pastry Sous Chef at The Ritz in Paris, before becoming a Patissier at The Normandy Hotel in Deauville.
Blin, 54, was encouraged to move to the UK by fellow top chef, Raymond Blanc. He has worked alongside him at the two Michelin starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Relais and Chateaux in Oxford for 20 years.
Prior to taking up his role on Bake Off: The Professionals, he was president of the UK pastry Team in the 2011 pastry World Cup in Lyon, France, and Chairman of the UK Pastry Club.
When is Bake Off: The Professionals on TV?
The fourth series of Bake Off: The Professionals airs weekly on Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4.
There are ten episodes starting from Tuesday 25 May, and you can also catch up on the previous three series and watch series four on demand, on 4oD.