Prue Leith Defended GBBO's Controversial Mexican Week

This year's iteration of "The Great British Bake Off" has one of the most diverse casts yet, which has shown viewers some truly ingenious bakes, like Syabira Yusoff's steamed watermelon cakes and Janusz Domagala's colorful, funky apartment block cake

While the show has been praised for the increasing diversity of its contestants and the skill of the bakers, it has built a reputation for poorly handling its representation of global cuisines. In 2020, there was the infamous "Japanese Week," when viewers felt that the GBBO judges had lumped various Asian cuisines under one umbrella, enforcing the "all Asian cultures are the same" stereotype (via Insider). Bakers made steamed buns (which are Chinese) filled with Indian ingredients or even American ingredients. Japanese actor Naoko Mori summed it up as being "served a lazy bake of an out of date out-of-a-packet mix of 'Chinese, Japanese, Whatever' East Asian theme..." (via Twitter).

Just a few weeks ago, GBBO chose to highlight yet another complex, world-famous cuisine through the "Mexican Week" episode. It went about as well as you can imagine.

The judges had 'absolutely no intention to offend,' Leith said

In Episode 4 of GBBO's current 13th season, contestants mispronounced ingredients like pico de gallo and guacamole, among other incidents that spurred outrage among viewers (via People). Further, it appeared that the judges chose not to do much more research about Mexican cuisine beyond a quick Google search, featuring challenges around conchas, steak tacos, and tres leches cakes. It wasn't just the baking that viewers found fault with: Additionally, hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas wandered around the tent shaking maracas and making culturally insensitive jokes. And we've never seen anyone peel an avocado the way Carole Edwards did.

Judge Prue Leith defended the Mexican Week episode in an interview with The New Yorker. While the judges do, in fact, choose the challenges the bakers face, "There would have been absolutely no intention to offend. That's not the spirit of the show," she said. Perhaps by next season, the judges will have taken fans' feedback into consideration and serve up a well thought-out, thoroughly researched world cuisine episode.