Bake Off winner David Atherton on life in the tent: ‘I weed all over my apron’
David Atherton, winner of the Great British Bake Off 2019, on embarrassing moments, crushes and what this year’s bakers should expect.
What was going through your mind when you first walked into the tent?
I was amazed that it looked exactly like it does on TV. Because usually TV shows are made in studios, so you are surprised when you get there and: ‘Oh it’s smaller. Oh, it’s this room within this big horrible room that’s full of lots of equipment.’ Whereas with Bake Off, you really do walk across the grass in the sun, and you walk straight into the tent. And that kind of made it feel more real than anything else, I think.
What was your most embarrassing moment during Bake Off?
One that I’ve not shared before, actually, was that I ran off to go to the toilet – you don’t get any time, the time doesn’t stop – so I ran out of the tent, across the grass to the toilets. Then I ran back and realised I’d weed all over my apron. I never told anyone, just went straight back into the tent.
Have you ever had a Bake Off crush?
Yes! Tamal. It was the series when Nadiya won. I totally loved Tamal and I was convinced I was going to bump into him one day. Never have.
Who’s your best Bake Off friend?
Helena, who was the spooky one from my year. We speak every single day. I don’t speak every day to anyone else.
What advice would you give to this years bakers?
The only advice you really can give, which is impossible to really follow, is just to stay calm and enjoy it. Every single person that gets into the tent can bake and deserves to be there, and really, often the difference is people that have a wobble. When you start getting stressed, you don’t make decisions properly. So by staying calm, you have a clear head. And so if things do go wrong, you can usually steer yourself through them. Whereas if you let things spiral, it is impossible to come back from that.
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since you won Bake Off?
Bake Off has gifted me with so many incredible experiences and opportunities. But I do think probably being able to publish my own cookbook, that has always been such a dream.
And what should we cook from that cookbook?
I actually have three cookbooks out now – but one that I love teaching people, I love baking for people, and that I think everybody should learn how to do, is a really good cinnamon roll.
What did you learn from being a COVID vaccinator?
I was already a vaccinator, I’ve done lots of programs before. I’ve never seen people so excited to get the vaccine! It was a huge operation, it was amazing to see and to be part of.
How is your wedding planning going?
It’s… not really. Nik is better than me, sometimes he’ll say: “Right, we’ll start looking at this.” But so far, we have just been doing too many things. This is going to remind us to sit down and do it.
Would you ever do Strictly?
One hundred per cent. It would terrify me, but 100 per cent.
You’ve just released My First Green Cook Book, for young cooks. Why should we all going more green?
Vegetarian cookbooks are not just for vegetarians. We should all be more green to help the planet; even if you’re somebody who eats meat it can be quite nice to have a vegetarian meal once a week, twice a week, or even more than that. Some people struggle with that to eat instead, so this book can give inspiration.
David Atherton’s My First Green Cook Book, a collection of vegetarian recipes for young cooks, is out now and can be bought at bookshop.org or amazon.co.uk.
The Great British Bake Off returns to Channel 4 Tuesday (21 September) at 8pm
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