Never underestimate the power of social media. That’s what Schitt’s Creek co-creator, executive producer, writer and star Daniel Levy learned when he tweeted his love for The Great British Bake Off and announced he’d be honoured to host a Canadian version of the culinary competition if that was ever in the cards.
“I had tweeted, quite naively, that if it ever came to Canada that I’ve love to throw my hat in the ring,” Levy says with a smile. “Almost immediately I started getting these responses, ‘It is for sure coming to Canada.’ ‘It’s happening.’ And then I inevitably got the call asking me if I would actually be interested. I said yes.”
Levy fulfils his dream on Wednesday when The Great Canadian Baking Show debuts at 8 p.m. on CBC. As if helming the homegrown version of your favourite program wasn’t enough, Levy does it with one of his best friends in Julia Chan; the former Saving Hope actress (who went by Julia Taylor Ross) joins him as narrator and co-host.
“We are great friends and were watching The Great British Bake Off together and Dan got involved,” Chan recalls. “Dan threw my hat in the ring, I got a call, went through the process and, apparently, we have good chemistry.”
“Watching this show and kind of colour commentating through the whole process, I was like, ‘I have a friend, she’s never hosted before but I think she would be a great, fresh voice for the show,'” Levy explains.
The Great Canadian Baking Show is fresh on a couple of levels. First, unlike other culinary competitions such as Top Chef Canada and MasterChef Canada, this is all about the baking. That, for watchers of those other shows, is often the hardest challenge put towards competitors thanks to the unforgiving science behind baking. You can fly by the seat of your pants when searing a steak. Not so when baking a multi-tiered cake. Second, The Great Canadian Baking Show is light-hearted and fun. If Wednesday’s debut is accurate, we’re in for one heck of an enjoyable ride. Levy and Chan are natural hosts, walking amongst the 10 home bakers, tasting here, asking questions there and genuinely having a good time.
Of course, the program isn’t all crumpets, tea and giggles. Each of the eight episodes contains three rounds—the Signature Bake, Technical Bake and Show Stopper—judged by baking legends Rochelle Adonis and Bruno Feldeisen. At the end of each episode, one home cook will be eliminated. This season’s 10 competitors represent a thick slice of Canada, from Regina CFO Vandana Jain to Victoria animator Jude Somers, from Toronto human rights lawyer Corey Shefman to Montreal graphic designer Sabrina Degni. All have a passion for baking and a flair for drama on a platter. Wednesday’s challenges force the 10 competitors to up the ante with regard to cakes and the results are stunning.
And while Levy is a longtime fan of The Great British Bake Off, he’s not so great in the kitchen, admitting to just one item in his culinary repertoire: frittata.
“I don’t have any culinary experience, but I do have a lot of opinions,” he says with a laugh. “That’s something that I can bring to this. I can’t bake a thing, but I can eat.”
The Great Canadian Baking Show airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.