The Part Of Steven Carter-Bailey's GBBO Finale That You Didn't Get To See - Exclusive

What does it truly take to win a televised cooking or baking competition? Talent aside, two-time "The Great Food Truck Race" champion Daniel Shemtob once told Mashed that, "I assumed I'd definitely be in the final two, if not final three or whatever." Steven Carter-Bailey — a 2017 "Great British Bake Off" finalist and a 2019 "Great New Year Bake Off" winner — went into the baking competition with similar conviction. "Everybody roots for you and says, 'come on, you can do this, you can do this. You've got this,'" Carter-Bailey reflected in an exclusive interview with Mashed of his first go at a GBBO title. "In your mind, anything other than perfection then becomes a failure. I didn't see that not winning was an option."

Competitions like "MasterChef" are famously cutthroat. But if "MasterChef" is the Wicked Witch of the West of food competitions, the GBBO and its iconic white tent is definitely more of a Glinda. It's "one of the kindest shows," Carter-Bailey acknowledged to Mashed. "We are all there for one another." Still, the pressure, Carter-Bailey revealed, was almost too much to handle.

The part of 'The Great British Bake Off' that Steven Carter-Bailey asked them not to show

After being selected as a "Great British Bake Off" participant and before filming starts, the show does its due diligence. "It's just constant questions, interviews, questions, interviews, credit checks, police checks, health checks, psychiatric checks, ability checks," Steven Carter-Bailey described. "You're constantly ... checked for stress levels. Could you cope in a strenuous environment? How would you deal with press hatred?" Carter-Bailey, even while agreeing that "there needs to be more done," doesn't know what more the show could do to prep contestants.

And yet, it wasn't enough. Towards the end of the 2017 season, Carter-Bailey had reached his limit. He described himself as becoming "almost a recluse," and had even stopped talking to his sister, "who's my mental support," he explained. On top of it all, he wasn't sleeping. "There was too much pressure to film in such a short amount of time," the GBBO alum reflected. "And I did say that to them. I said 'look, the reason I'm under so much pressure is because we finished one episode and I've got three or four days to turn around two new recipes.'"

The cameras didn't show you this; he asked them not to. During the finale, Carter-Bailey struggled. "I had probably the worst anxiety attack I've ever had and had to be talked down off a ledge," he recounted. "You know I really was at my lowest point and I think it's a joint responsibility. It's very easy to get swept up in the romance of something like this because I didn't know what I was getting myself into originally." Show co-host, Sandi Toksvig, went to find him.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

What Sandi Toksvig told Steven-Carter Bailey at the very end of Series 8

Sandi Toksvig — who's since left the show — coaxed Carter-Bailey back into the tent. Off-camera, at the very end of the 2017 season, she gave the GBBO finalist a nugget of wisdom. "For some people, it's better that they don't win because you're going to go and have a fantastic career and you'll be a slow-burning flame that will burn brightly," Toksvig told Carter-Bailey. "I want you to continue down that path of slow achievement ... you don't need a big bang and launch into the industry." Carter Bailey carries Toksvig's advice with him, today. "I think it's important to, for me, to continually repeat this message to myself and to other people," he reflected, "That is, 'first place doesn't necessarily mean you won and second place or third place doesn't mean you lost.'"

Would Steven Carter-Bailey do it again? He did — he has a 2019 "Great New Year Bake Off" winning plate to show for it. And, unequivocally, Carter-Bailey would do it again, too. "I think I would just be kinder to myself," he reflected.

Keep up-to-date with Steven Carter-Bailey's cake creations by following him on Instagram. For recipe inspiration, check out his website.