The 11 Best Paul Hollywood Handshake Moments, Ranked

If you're a fan of the "Great British Baking Show," you're well acquainted with Paul Hollywood's famous handshake. Whether you love the steely eyed judge and all of his devilishly smooth charms, or hate him for his haughty arrogance and overly inflated ego, this Master of Bread certainly plays a big part in the show's wild success.

The self-proclaimed "best baker in the business," Hollywood has had an immensely successful career as head baker for some of the world's most renowned hotels. He's traveled extensively all over the globe studying ancient baking techniques, and has appeared on several television shows, including his career-defining role on the hugely popular "The Great British Baking Show." With a big resume (and a big head to match), Hollywood contributes his own golden star of approval for the contestants of "The Great British Baking Show" with a simple handshake. When it comes time for a contestant to be judged in one of each episode's three rounds, a handshake from Hollywood indicates perfection. It means that the baker has pleased the king, and must therefore grovel in gratitude. It's the modern day version of, "well done, my humble servant. You may now kiss my ring."

But within these moments of royal Hollywood haughtiness, there often can be found something much sweeter, much warmer — the joy and surprise of a novice baker receiving high praise for something they've created with care. And for those moments, we love a Hollywood handshake. Let's take a look at some of the best.

11. Michael Chakraverty

Endearingly humble and endlessly kind, Season 10 contestant Michael Chakraverty earned his Hollywood handshake during the signature challenge of bread week. Understandably, contestants are usually extra nervous during each season's bread week because bread is Paul Hollywood's area of expertise. So to receive a handshake during this week, though unspoken and unofficial, is extra rewarding. In a pre-competition interview, Chakraverty even nervously admitted, "I've got a bit of bread dread!"

But that dread was short-lived. Chakraverty prepared an absolutely stunning Keralan star tear and share bread that looked nothing short of professional, which he then presented to the judges. Hollywood took a bite, commenting how much he loved the coconut flavor, color, and the kick from the chilis. Without hesitation, he then extended his hand to Chakraverty, who went literally weak in the knees as he grabbed the counter to steady himself, blushing and elated. Hollywood went on to explain that he liked the bread so much because he'd never had anything like that before. Talk about a compliment!

Chakraverty, in a post-challenge interview, wiped tears from his eyes, saying, "My mum is going to cry, she's going to be so excited and I can't wait to tell my friends and my mum." It doesn't get much sweeter than that.

10. Kim-Joy Hewlett

Overflowing with an almost childlike glee and hopefulness, Kim-Joy Hewlett was a treat to watch on "The Great British Baking Show." With sunshine in both her style and her bakes, the Season 9 star always brought more than a bit of color to her scenes. During spice week, Hewlett created a stem ginger cake with poached pears for the signature challenge. In true Kim-Joy style, her adorable cake was topped with a tiny, charmingly decorated gingerbread house.

Upon arrival at Hewlett's bake station, Paul Hollywood immediately said, "the gingerbread house looks incredible, the attention to detail is fantastic." Judge Prue Leith agreed, adding that the texture was beautiful. Hollywood continued to praise the balance of flavors, then said, "that is, um [a very dramatic pause as he extended his hand to Hewlett] beautiful." Blushing and elated, Hewlett accepts her handshake with grace and a simple, "thank you so much." In this moment, her joy was truly contagious.

9. Ruby Bhogal

Completely charming and seemingly well loved by every single person in the tent, Ruby Bhogal gave the judges some gorgeous bakes during Season 9. One of our favorites was her chocolate orange "Jackson Pollock" collar cake that she presented for the showstopper challenge during cake week. Though leaning slightly, the cake was bold and elegant, with a white chocolate collar impressively wrapped around the cake and shards of hazelnut brittle adorning the top layer with dramatic flare.

Prue Leith was the first to comment on the cake's impressiveness, saying "It really is very elegant, very restrained. It's classy." And then, after her first bite, she chuckled and added, "I could sit here eating this for an hour or so!" Leith's words seemed to affect Bhogal immensely as the look on her face was that of shocked joy. It was then that Paul Hollywood, not the least bit subtly, smiled and said "Come here, Ruby!" and everyone in the tent erupted with cheers and applause. Bhogal, overjoyed, could hardly contain her elation, pausing before accepting her handshake to celebrate with some fist pumps and jubilant laughter with her friendly competitors.

In her post-challenge interview, Bhogal hilariously admitted that the handshake was great, but her real sense of accomplishment came from impressing Leith, because that's all she'd ever wanted to do!

8. Peter Sawkins

Peter Sawkins, who would go on to become the youngest-ever winner of the "Great British Baking Show" when he took home the Season 11 title, charmed us all with his youthful enthusiasm, sweet spirit, and incredible talent for baking. During patisserie week, Sawkins earned himself a Hollywood handshake with his strawberry and elderflower babas in the signature challenge.

When the judges arrived at Sawkins' station, Paul Hollywood was quick to compliment the uniformity and attractiveness of each piece. He then cut into one and was very impressed with the soaked-through texture, which is traditional in this particular pastry. After a bite and a chuckle, Prue Leith admitted, "I didn't think I was going to like the savarins without any booze in it, but it's delicious!" Hollywood continued to praise the dessert before saying, "All I can say, Peter, is ..." and he warmly extended his hand for the big moment. Sawkins turned every bit as red as the strawberry in his babas and placed an astonished hand to his forehead in disbelief, before accepting the honor.

Immediately afterward, hilarious yet heartwarmingly kind host Matt Lucas, approached Sawkins and said, "[Hollywood] told me I wasn't allowed to clap when someone gets a handshake, but..." and started boldly applauding, leading the rest of the tent to join in enthusiastically.

7. Dan Beasley-Harling

Impossible-not-to-love Dan Beasley-Harling easily won over the hearts of his fellow competitors and the picky palates of the distinguished judges as a competitor on Season 9 of the "The Great British Baking Show." During cake week, Beasley-Harling's contribution for the signature challenge came in the form of a black forest gateaux slice of perfection. Beautifully uniform and gorgeously tempting, Beasley-Harling's perfect slices blew the judges away immediately. Prue Leith started the rounds of compliments by admiring the excellent decoration. Paul Hollywood agreed that they did, in fact, look amazing. Beasley-Harling then said to Hollywood (nervously and with a small smirk), "Come on, say something nice." 

Hollywood didn't quite comply, but offered something, at least in his mind, far greater than words — an extension of his hand. A round of applause thundered throughout the tent, and Hollywood finally said something nice: "I could sit and eat the whole lot." Leith then, giggling, pointed out that Beasley-Harling was blushing, which of course, made him only blush harder. Cut to Beasley-Harding in his post-challenge interview: "I thought he was joking!"

6. Dan Beasley-Harling (again)

Per his tweet, Dan Beasley-Harling is the first contestant to ever be awarded three Hollywood handshakes, so you would imagine that the honor would have lost some of its merit by the third time around. But alas, that was not the case. When Beasley-Harling received his final Hollywood handshake for his Florida fruit roulade, his genuine graciousness and appreciation felt brand new to the audience.

Upon Beasley-Harling's presentation of his dessert to the judges, Paul Hollywood remarked, "It's so delicate, it just looks neat as a pin." Leith agreed, stating, "I think those flavors are wonderful ... you've got the balance perfectly." Old hat at this point, Hollywood simply extended his hand, a praise well deserved, but now expected. The audience almost could have almost felt cheated at this point, unable to properly relish in Beasley-Harling's accomplishment. That is, until sweet host Sandi Toksvig hesitated for a moment, before giving him a sweet embrace, the sole one to grasp the mighty weight of his accomplishment. Well done, Dan. And good for you, Sandi.

5. Lottie Bedlow

Sweet and clever Lottie Bedlow aptly named her handshake-earning treats "Quarantine Florentines" in her 2020 season. It's worth noting that in the troubling time of the pandemic, all contestants and crew had to quarantine together for the duration of filming. Until that point, everyone involved with the show was able to film only on weekends, going home to their families during the week. Despite the hectic conditions, Bedlow's beautifully delicate Florentines won over the judges with her contribution to the signature challenge during biscuit week.

When Paul Hollywood approached Bedlow and her lacy biscuits, he was quick to compliment their composition and overall look before tasting them and saying, "I can't find a fault with them, really." He then appeared to actually search for something wrong with them, flipping over a few, searching for a flaw. When he failed, he simply extended his hand and said "well done" to Bedlow, who gasped with surprise, then very sweetly, shyly, and humbly let out a breathlessly surprised "thank you," before a beaming smile spread across her face. Hollywood then did something he very rarely does. Much to everyone's delight, he grabbed one more Florentine for the road.  

4. Crystelle Pereira

Season 12 fan favorite Crystelle Pereira was popular for good reason. Charmingly humble, boisterous, charismatic, and every bit as sweet as the creations she baked, everyone seemed to just love Pereira. And during the showstopper challenge of pastry week, even Paul Hollywood wasn't immune to her talent and charms. Mastering the challenge with a gorgeous, savory curry pie dedicated to her late grandmother, Pereira was clearly dedicated throughout the challenge. She seemed to focus even harder than usual due to the sentimentality of her dish, and her hard work paid off beautifully.

Upon presenting her showstopper to the judges, Prue Leith was the first to comment, saying, "such a beautiful cottage," and went on to admire the care and detail put into each tiny decoration. Hollywood took one bite, abruptly put his fork back on the plate, and said, directly and firmly to Pereira, "Have you seen this, here?" Poor Pereira, wide eyed, terrified, responded shakily, "no," and shrunk to the table to discover her flaw, looking helplessly at her gorgeous creation. Hollywood then extended his hand, which she could hardly believe. Covering her mouth with her free hand, and dramatically falling nearly to her knees for a moment, she was stunned.

Later in her post-challenge interview, Pereira said, "I'm just in so much shock. I was like 'Something's gone wrong,' and then out came his hand and I just died. I literally died. So maybe I'm a ghost, maybe that's why I feel weird."

3. Giuseppe Dell'Anno

After watching Giuseppe Dell'Anno "The Great British Baking Show," it's impossible to not immediately want to be his best friend. An obviously stand-up, genuinely kind soul, the Season 12 winner brought so much warmth to the tent that had nothing to do with his incredible bakes. Which made his first handshake moment in the onerous bread week that much more rewarding for the audience.

Dell'Anno's signature challenge Breakfast in Gaeta focaccia looked absolutely flawless. And it didn't take long for the assurance that it tasted just as perfect. Before even diving in, Paul Hollywood remarked, "it's the sort of focaccia that I would bake." That's all well and good, Hollywood, but this is Giuseppe's moment, okay? Hollywood continued with his praise, saying, "you haven't gone overboard with flavor, and you've made a beautifully light focaccia ... I think it's beautiful. Well done." He then offered his handshake, and for a moment, it's easy to believe that Hollywood felt humbled in the presence of true greatness. Though, perhaps that's only wishful thinking.

At this point, sweet Dell'Anno was so overcome with emotion that all he could muster was a gentle smile. Co-judge Prue Leith then asked if he was alright, to which he was only able to nod enthusiastically as he wiped away his tears. And if that didn't have you crying, Hollywood then went on to ask Dell'Anno for the recipe. If you ask us, perhaps it's time for a humbler, gentler judge to step in. What do you say, Giuseppe?

2. Rahul Mandal

Shy, humble, and sweet, Season 9 champion Rahul Mandal is perhaps the most endearing contestant ever to compete on the "Great British Baking Show." He's genuinely someone you just want to just wrap your arms around and assure him that, despite his fears and insecurities, he is in fact, an incredibly talented baker — which is what made this handshake moment so rewarding for both the audience, and surely, Mandal as well. During cake week's showstopper challenge, Mandal created a chocolate orange layer cake that looked exquisite ... that is, until the heat of the tent had its way with his carefully piped decorations.

Clearly embarrassed by his melting, sagging chocolate swirls, Mandal modestly delivered his cake to the judge's table. Paul Hollywood quickly dismissed the melting as something that simply can't be helped. "I'm impressed," Hollywood said of the decorations as he cut into the cake. As he did so, both he and fellow judge Prue Leith commented on the beauty of the cake's interior, admiring the bold, strong colors. After what seemed an eternity of silence, Hollywood asked hopelessly shy Mandal to "come here a minute, please," in the tone of a teacher who has just discovered gum on his chair. A flinching Mandal went forward sheepishly, ready for his harsh critique. Instead, Hollywood extended his hand to Mandal and said, "I've never given a handshake for a showstopper before. That is a fantastic cake. Well done, Rahul." A round of applause flooded the room and sweet Mandal, apart from a shocked "thank you," was speechless.

1. Henry Bird

Our favorite handshake moment, hands down, goes to young Henry Bird, who had perhaps the most memorable response to his handshake in "Great British Baking Show" history when he competed on the show in 2019. During festival week, Bird prepared chocolate kardemummabullar for his signature challenge. While Paul Hollywood's initially commented that they were inconsistent in size, that's where the criticism ended. Prue Leith chimed in, saying that if she saw them in a shop window, she'd want to try one. Hollywood then went on to praise the color, bake, technique, and flavor, mentioning once again the inconsistency in size. He then added, "but nevertheless ..." and offered his handshake as a way of completing his thought.

To this, Bird, completely flabbergasted and in utter disbelief, said, "No, shut up!" Everyone then proceeds to erupt into laughter. Leith then, resting an elbow on Hollywood's shoulder, says with a heap of good humor, "I don't think you say 'shut up' to the judges," which makes everyone laugh even harder, especially Hollywood. Poor Bird, clearly embarrassed but laughing along with everyone else, can only get out a "sorry!" before the giggles take over again. When Bird catches his breath, he said, with a beaming smile, "that has made my month!" For us, this hilarious handshake moment really does take the cake.