What The Winners Of The Great British Baking Show Are Doing Today

The Season 11 of The Great British Baking Show just launched on September 23 (we get it in the U.S. on September 25)and already the first episode averaged a ground-breaking 6.9 million viewers. The pandemic created unique struggles for the cast and crew, resulting in a two-week quarantine for everyone before shooting could begin. After 10 years on the air, it's probably pretty well known that the winners don't get a monetary prize — just a bouquet of flowers and a glass cake stand (via The Sun). 

So it's up to the winner to use the publicity and fame to their advantage. Some past winners launched culinary and television careers. Others returned to their "day jobs," and a few struggled to make any career at all. We'll take a look at all 10 past GBBS winners, and see how their lives were changed after becoming the definitive Star Baker of the tent.

Season 1: Edd Kimber

Edd Kimber was a 24-year-old bank debt collector — a job that he hated (via Daily Mail— and, after being turned down for culinary school, he applied — and was accepted — for a new baking show, The Great British Baking Show. Everyone was friendly, but the show shut down on its first day because hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc quit in protest due to the show's unkind approach. "They were pointing cameras in the bakers' faces and making them cry and saying 'Tell us about your dead gran,'" Perkins told Radio Times (as reported by The Independent)"So we had very stiff words about how we wanted to proceed." With those changes made, the show was an immediate hit when the first episode aired.

Kimber's bakes were frequently praised by judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, and when Berry groaned with pleasure at eating Kimber's macaroons, he felt he might win the competition. Kimber admits that he made several "businessy" mistakes after winning that he advises other winners to avoid making (via The Express)Since 2010, Kimber quit his bank job, wrote four cookbooks, launched a third career as a food photographer, and has made regular television appearances, including a Food Network Christmas show with another GBBS winner, John Whaite. During the pandemic, Kimber and his partner have hunkered down in North London, where he frequently leaves delicious baked goods at his neighbors' front doors. Kimber still lives by the GBBS philosophy: A home-baked cake will always be received with a smile.

Season 2: Joanne Wheatley

The second season winner of The Great British Baking Show, Joanne Wheatley, has the dubious claim of being the first GBBS contestant whose life made the gossip magazines. After winning the 2011 series, it was soon revealed that her husband, Richard, nicknamed "The Bear," was serving a seven-year prison sentence for his participation in a over $76 million money-laundering scheme (via The Mirror)To Wheatley's credit, she was upfront with GBBS producers about her jailbird hubbybut they didn't want her colorful home life to define who she would be on the show. As a BBC spokeswoman said: "Joanne's husband's background bears no relevance to the programme." As the BBC reported, Wheatley's baking skills shone, particularly winning over Mary Berry with her perfect petits fours. Her win was briefly overshadowed when host Sue Perkins tweeted a photo of an anatomically fascinating squirrel just before the program aired.

"The Bear's" legal problems had no effect on Wheatley's popularity. Her two baking books, A Passion for Baking and Home Baking sold exceptionally well. Wheatley is a frequent contributor to various magazines and newspapers, hosts British food events, makes television appearances, and has a vibrant social media presence, thanks to her blog, Jo's Blue Aga. After winning GBBS, she soon opened a cooking school — Essex Cookery School — in her Essex home, and in 2018, it was voted by The Guardian as one of the top five baking schools.

Season 3: John Whaite

The 2012 winner, John Whaite, almost didn't get the coveted cake plate. He messed up big time when he used salt instead of sugar in his rum babas, causing Paul Hollywood to spit it out (via The Guardian), and when he sliced open his finger while making strudel, he had to withdraw from the round. Despite the setbacks, Whaite won on the merits of his mirror-glazed chocolate chiffon cake. He had been going to law school before being selected for the show, and after his win, he hung up his barrister's robe and earned his culinary degree from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. Despite that accomplishment, Whaite was severely depressed. He told Manchester Evening News"Some days I'd wish I had never been on the show, because in reality, it totally derailed me from a steady lifepath." 

As new bakers won GBBO, work offers dried up, and after a bout of pneumonia, he escaped to a farm in Canada. As reported by The Irish Newsthe responsibility of taking care of the animals helped him find a more centered self. Whaite returned to Manchester and has since published five cookbooks, written numerous articles on food and mental health, and opened a cooking school and a supper club (both are still in operation). Despite the newfound inner peace, Whaite still struggles with personal demons. On a television cooking show, per The Sun, he confessed to having sexsomnia, a medically recognized condition that causes him to get cozy with his boyfriend while asleep.

Season 4: Frances Quinn

In 2013, Frances Quinn was a children's clothing designer, and although her bakes were considered to be more style than substance (per The Guardian), she used her drawing skills, as reported by How Life Unfolds, to create a Shakespearean-themed three-tier wedding cake that Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry said "beat the other two guys hands down." The 2013 season was a phenomenon for its ratings and the intense anger directed at Quinn's fellow finalist, Ruby Tandoh. In an editorial in The GuardianTandoh tried to make sense of it all: "If a show as gentle as Bake Off can stir up such a sludge of lazy misogyny in the murky waters of the internet, I hate to imagine the full scale of the problem."

In 2015, Quinn produced the cookbook Quinntessential Baking, which combined baking with graphic design. On her website, Quinn writes: "Sketching up designs and pairing them with a recipe helps to feed both mine and other people's creative appetite." Since winning, Quinn has almost been scandal-free, except for two recent events. In an interview with Cosmopolitan in 2019, she revealed a lot of behind-the-scenes secrets of GBBS, including the tidbit that contestants have to buy their own ingredients to practice their signature bakes. And then in May 2020, undercover detectives of a popular supermarket detained her for shoplifting. As reported by The Sun, the petty crime was resolved so Quinn wouldn't have a police record, but she can't set foot in the store again.

Season 5: Nancy Birtwhistle

In 2014, The Great British Baking Show had moved from BBC2 to BBC1, and the switch dramatically increased ratings, leaping to over 12 million, per The Guardian, for the finale in which 60-year-old Nancy Birtwhistle toppled fan-favorite Richard Burr. Before auditioning for GBBS, she had had a 30-year career in health services, also earning a Master's degree in business administration, and was also a dog trainer. Her prior experience helped her maintain her calm yet determined demeanor during the show, earning her the nickname "Fancy Nancy." As reported by The Guardian, Mary Berry later said, "she never really lost her cool." In an interview with BBC Good Food, after winning Season 5, she was contacted by people world-over who thanked her for inspiring them to bake.

Since 2014, Birtwhistle has appeared on many cooking shows and given inspirational speeches at food festivals. She developed a loyal social media fan base, including Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness (via Quartz) for whom Birtwhistle created a special chocolate cake. In 2019, Birtwhistle published her cookbook Sizzle and Drizzle: Tips For a Modern Day Homemaker, which includes vegan and gluten-free recipes and also best practices in and out of the kitchen that she learned from her grandmother. Birtwhistle has morphed into a nice Martha Stewart and, per House Beautifulgives householding cleaning tips, raises chickens, and is a fierce advocate of switching to an eco-friendly home.

Season 6: Nadiya Hussain

The most successful winner of The Great British Baking Show is Nadiya Hussain. At the time of her win in 2015, she'd been married to her husband in a traditional arranged Islamic marriage for 11 years (they remarried in 2018), had two children, and was a self-taught cook. The charismatic and photogenic Hussain was anxious about how she would be perceived by viewers. In an interview with The Guardianshe admitted, "perhaps people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake." But instead, she diffused the negative and was fully embraced. Her astounding final showstopper — a realistic British wedding cake — was proof she had the skills, too.

Hussain took advantage of the GBBS publicity juggernaut by moving her family to a London suburb where she could pursue her culinary career. The following year she was asked to bake Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday cake, which, according to Evening Standard, received mixed reviews. In 2016, she published her first cookbook, Nadiya's Kitchen, which she followed up with a cookbook tie-in to her television series, Nadiya's British Food Adventure, family-themed cookbooks, and a memoir. In the 2019 documentary — Nadiya: Anxiety and Me — Hussain admits to having extreme panic attacks brought on by vicious racial insults on social media and from the culinary industry itself, per Digital Spy. Also in 2019, her latest series Nadiya's Time To Eat premiered on Netflix, proving Hussain is a GBBS superstar with staying power.

Season 7: Candice Brown

During Season 7, Candice Brown became fodder for gossip columnists. She was perceived as a cheeky seductress with her ever-pouty painted lips, which became her trademark, according to The Sun. Brown admitted in an interview with The Express that she received violent threats from viewers who were disgusted by her pout, which she explained was to conceal her bad teeth. But Brown wasn't just a snarky poseur, and her complex, final bake nabbed her the cake plate. She returned to work as a PE instructor for children with special needs, but the principal was supportive of her work, per Hello!. "If we can't encourage our staff to follow their dreams and inspire, then we are not doing our job properly," she told Brown. 

Brown's cookbook, Comfort: Delicious Bakes & Family Treats, was soon published, and she appeared on cooking shows and game shows and another competition show, Dancing On Ice from which she was booted off in the first episode. At an award after-party in 2017, Brown and Paul Hollywood were caught cozying up together, which gossipmongers linked to Hollywood's separation from his wife three months later. Brown downplayed what happened, especially since she had just announced her engagement to her long-time boyfriend, Liam Macauley. Brown and Macauley married in 2018, and she went into business with her brother at a local pub, where she baked and bartended. They renewed their vows a year later, but in July 2020, Brown's agent announced, The Mirror claims, that the couple had split up. 

Season 8: Sophie Faldo

As an Army officer who served in Afghanistan, Sophie Faldo put her discipline and determination into baking gorgeous showstoppers. Her win, though, was anti-climatic because six hours before the finale aired, the show's new judge, Prue Leith, accidentally revealed Faldo's win in a tweet, the BBC reported. After winning, Faldo had plans to publish a cookbook, but after falling out with her management company, she scrapped it, and it was never published. At about the same time, The Sun reported incorrectly, per Yahoo! News, that she had re-enlisted in the Army — in fact, she never left. However, Faldo did become the ambassador for Combat Stress, a charity that supports servicemen and servicewomen who suffer from PTSD. 

Although she hated the tabloid aspect of GBBSshe stoked the gossip flames in an interview with Huffington Post UK by confessing that it had not been a positive experience. "I'd love to propagate the idea that it's all bunting and rainbows." However, she blamed her self-induced pressure more than she did the producers. In another interview, Faldo revealed that her win didn't secure a financial future, as reported by This Is Money. "I did not prepare myself to win. I was a little bit slow to think about how I could make the most of all the attention." She made a few television appearances, including the controversial and thought-provoking Travel With A Goat (via The Drum). After some fits and starts, in early 2020, Faldo launched Sophie Faldo Couture Cakes, which she describes as handcrafting "luxury bespoke cakes" for weddings.

Season 9: Rahul Mandal

The most self-effacing contestant was the Season 9 winner Rahul Mandal. Mandal was a research engineer for the University of Sheffield's Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, per Nature. A self-taught baker, he had little confidence he could win, and some of his bakes were disasters, like his overstuffed doughnuts and burnt pita bread, which angered viewers (via Digital Spy). As reported by Bustle, Mandal had a sob-worthy backstory, which perhaps accounted for his demonstrably emotional responses to his and fellow bakers' mishaps and successes. He earned a Hollywood Handshake and praise as "little genius," and his confidence grew. He clinched the win, despite a glass measuring jug crashing to smithereens on his ingredients and forcing him to re-do the entire bake. 

After winning, Mandal did a round of publicity interviews, but he returned to his job at the NAMRC. He became an ambassador for STEM  a school curriculum for teaching students science and math  "Programmes like this are incredibly important for empowering teachers with the right skills," he told Rotherham Advertiser in 2018. "We need to make a real impact on young minds to try and inspire more children ... to consider engineering as a cool career." Although his recipes were featured in the Great British Bake Off: Get Baking for Friends and Family cookbook, he has no plans of releasing his own. Mandal is still an avid baker you can find his creations on Instagram but he was never interested in pursuing a culinary career or being a celebrity.

Season 10: David Atherton

In 2019, David Atherton was the first GBBS winner to never win Star Baker. Although he was usually in the top tier in every episode, Paul Hollywood apparently didn't care for his bakes, Atherton said in an interview with Vulture. Atherton was also unusual in that he often finished before the other bakers and then helped them finish their bakes. Like Sophie Faldo, Atherton employed the cool-headed precision he learned from his regular job as a health adviser for Volunteer Service Overseas. Referring to the two years he spent in Malawi training nurses, he said in a VSO interview: "I wasn't going to get stressed by a cake not rising or my pastry being a bit soggy, because I'd seen other people getting through so much in life and being so positive." 

During and after the show, he admitted to Pink News that he had received criticism on social media for being openly gay. He'd come from a religious, anti-LGBTQ family, and when he sees abuse, he uses his GBBO fame to take a stand, most recently for transgender rights. In August 2020, his cookbook  My First Cookbook  was published. It's a cookbook for kids that focuses on healthy eating and not sugar-laden treats. "It's really important to capture kids young, and instead of trying to make it seem like a chore, food's got to be fun," he told the Yorkshire Post. Today, Atherton's Instagram feed shows him promoting his book, hanging out with fellow GBBO bakers, and enjoying an active life with partner Nik.