Edd Kimber Shared What Filming GBBO Was Really Like

Just about everyone who follows food TV is probably familiar with "The Great British Baking Show." The oh-so-satisfying series, which is also called "The Great British Bake Off," has elicited jealousy around the world for judges who get to taste some of the most awe-inspiring desserts from contestants with enough skills to make them. But every year, only one of these contestants gets to hold the coveted title of "GBBO" champion, and of these champions, only one person is known as the first. When the show first premiered in 2010, Edd Kimber became the first-ever "GBBO" winner.

Since his time on the series came to an end, Kimber has been showing off his expertise by writing several cookbooks, including 2014's "Patisserie Made Simple," 2012's "Say it with Cake," and 2011's "The Boy Who Bakes," a nod to his social media handle (via Edd Kimber's website). He is also responsible for contributing to a ton of cooking sites as a guest writer. And while we love a good chocolate chip cookie recipe from someone skilled enough to win a baking competition as big as "GBBO," his latest share may take the cake. Kimber's recently launched Substack includes a wealth of knowledge, both from his cooking background and the backstage action of "GBBO."

How it started

Edd Kimber's new Substack includes a mix of recipes, interviews with cookbook authors, and looks behind the scenes at bakeries around the world. He already has a ton of great content queued up, including a teased US book tour, and seeming to spawn from that, a postcard series that includes musings from visits to NYC, Seattle, and Minneapolis. He also has some great-looking recipes from chocolate malt marble cake with peanut butter frosting to tahini granola, a promise of the deliciousness to come.  

But the most popular story by far is the one with tasty tidbits he included around his experience on "The Great British Baking Show." In his "GBBO"-based article, Kimber touches on things like travel to the various locations at which they filmed and the day-to-day conversations with the judges. In one of his first posts on the newly launched publication, Kimber shares details about the actual process of working with the show's judges and other crew members.

According to Kimber, the process of appearing on the show actually began with an "arduous" 4-month-long vetting process that involved a long application, a lengthy phone call, and several in-person tests. Interestingly, Kimber admitted that much of his TV experience can be categorized as "waiting around." Once he finally made it through the vetting process, he explains, each contestant had to meet with a psychologist to make sure they could mentally handle the stress they might incur as a result of the show.

BTS on the set of GBBO

As it was the first season, Edd Kimber explained that everything was a learning process. Segments were cut and pieces were filmed upwards of ten or more times to get the right things on camera. He goes on to note that the tone of the show was meant to be "positive and uplifting, celebrating the skill of homebakers," but it quickly became clear that some had been trying to shift the focus to more of a reality show format before their very eyes.

The camera crew, who they were told would not follow them from the tent, would do the opposite and hone in on intimate moments to capture tears and drama, only to be rectified when Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc threatened to leave the set. As for the judges, they were mostly sequestered from contestants, likely to maintain objectivity, so contestants only really got to know them after filming. He did share that Paul Hollywood, who many see as scary and stern, was "actually very encouraging when the cameras weren't rolling."

The juiciest bit is his depiction of "cheating" or the use of "a secret helping hand" on set. As Kimber remembers, the cast would try to figure out the technical challenge by picking up clues from baking vessels left around by crew or, on occasion, a clue from a crew member themself. For the full, juicy story, check out the first post in Kimber's Substack. Here's hoping some more detailed stories about his experience come out soon!