Rahul Claims Paul Hollywood Was Eerily Silent In The GBBO Tent

Rahul Mandal from "The Great British Baking Show" was known for his stunning, flavorful bakes, his nervous chatter, and his bashful inability to take a compliment before his big win in 2018. Rahul hadn't been baking very long before the show; he baked his first cake in 2016. Before he was on GBBO, he didn't even know that you could bake your own loaves of bread because growing up in India, his family didn't have an oven – you don't need an oven to make roti, and bread was bought in the store. 

But even as he's mostly returned to normal life (he's still working full-time at the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire), he's found time to write and release a cookbook called "Showstopping Cakes," about his baking journey. In an Instagram post, Rahul called it "the book that I wish I had when I started baking."

And he recently got married in an elaborate Bengali ceremony in India, sharing a video on Instagram. Somewhere between working, writing a cookbook, and getting married, Rahul found time to talk with RTE, Ireland's national television and radio broadcaster, about his cookbook and life since his win. And of course, talk turned to a certain steely-eyed individual in the GBBO tent.

Paul Hollywood cultivates his intimidating persona

"Oh my God, he never spoke to us. Even after [filming] he was very quiet," Rahul Mandal told RTE when talking about judge Paul Hollywood. Hollywood has a reputation for stalking around the tent and intently watching the bakers — an intimidating presence, indeed. However, "Paul always kept his distance," Rahul said. 

This distance obviously does nothing to contradict the reputation Hollywood has built over the years, it rather enhances it. But once the winner is announced and the cameras stop rolling, Paul drops the façade and becomes "really nice ... and then suddenly very friendly," Rahul remembered. "I was so surprised to see him actually laughing and chatting with all the other people who came to the final. I felt like, 'Is this the same person who was so scary in the tent?'."

Season 12 winner Giuseppe Dell'Anno also described Hollywood as intimidating but very fair. "The production plays on it a little and they like to build up Paul as a creepy, nasty man. But, he isn't at all" (via Express). What about fellow judge Prue Leith? "Prue sometimes came to our benches to have a chit-chat after the challenges," Rahul said.