On Tuesday we meet the 12 amateur bakers who will smash eggs to find out who wins The Great Kiwi Bake Off.
Hamilton landscaper Joel Arnold promises he takes a chilled-out cruisy approach to the competition. He doesn’t create drama among the flour and sugar and the only place he kicks up a fuss is on the rugby field. In fact, his local team gave the 28-year-old a hard time when they found out he was going to compete on the TVNZ 2 show.
“The boys gave me some grief first up, threw out a lot of banter at me from at training, but were pretty stoked for me and were real interested in when it will all be aired.” Arnold tells Spy.
“Also, they whacked on the pressure for me to bake them something, even putting up a poll on Facebook to vote who wants me to bake. No one said no, but who’s going to say no to free baking, right? Especially a chocolate mud cake.”
His mother, Shirley, was his first baking mentor, but now British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver shares the mantle.
“I can remember Mum making muffins, and me sitting on a stool in the kitchen stirring the mixture and trying to eat all the batter, that’s where it started,” Arnold says.
Since then baking has become a relaxing pastime, something he uses to kill time as he attempts new and interesting recipes, which makes him happy when he pulls them off perfectly. He rates his speed and the unique flavours he creates as his advantages in the competition.
His pride and joy has been a pumpkin-ginger cheesecake and his biggest baking disaster was a flat pavlova.
Hosts Madeleine Sami and Hayley Sproull gave him a few laughs — he says they are like two peas in a pod with great yarns. They made some stressful times in the tent a lot lighter.
And what about his favourite place to grab a sweet treat in Hamilton?
“I’m usually a cafe man when I can and usually go to GG’s or Hayes Common on a weekend for a meal. If it’s a weekday you’d probably find me picking up some baking treats at the top of Cambridge Rd, where I used to go heaps to in my school years before it got the big reno into Bakehouse.”