2016 saw a nation devastated after Great British Bake Off Semi-Finalist, Selasi, hung up his apron for the final time. Finishing in a respectable fourth place, Selasi bid a fond farewell to Bake Off’s legendary Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. Becoming BBC Bake Off alumni, in its penultimate airing before digging up the tent pegs and moving to Channel 4.
Selasi left the iconic tent in his wake but not before confirming a place in all our hearts! As fellow avid Bake Off viewers can confirm, it was near impossible not to fall in love with Selasi. With his charismatic demeanour and exquisite baking creations! He continually showcased his mouth-watering flavour combinations and perfect piping precision. Leaving us all hungry for more!
Which is why MY BAKER were thrilled when the opportunity to chat to the man himself presented itself. Three years post Bake Off, having now been propelled into the spotlight, we wanted the latest slice on all things Selasi! Delving into what the future holds for our star baker and talking everything from baking to biking.
The first thing we wanted to know was where his baking skills originated?
Selasi spoke fondly, recounting his time spent alternating between studying at university and cooking up a storm in his student digs. With a fellow undergraduate pal, turned cookery teacher, helping him to navigate his way around the kitchen.
It was this time spent experimenting and feeding hungry students that sparked a love of all things cooking for Selasi but his culinary passions can be traced back even further. To his familial connections to the culturally rich and mountainous landscape of Switzerland.
So just what was in Switzerland for Selasi?
Home to an array of quaint villages, medieval cities steeped in history and of course Selasi’s family. It’s picturesque to say the least and it’s where Selasi recalls spending countless holidays. Exploring the Swiss scenery, from the capital’s Bern Zytglogge clock tower to Lucerne’s wooden chapel bridge.
Set against the backdrop of the high peaks of the Alps that cut across the skyline, as avid skiers’ snake their way to the bottom. While Selasi would take to the road. Weaving his way through the landscape on his transport of choice; the scooter. Before he eventually ‘worked up to a motorbike’.
Switzerland embodied Selasi’s love of delicious native delicacies and the freedom travelling by bike presents. It’s easy to see how Selasi fell in love with such a place and why he then undertook an eight-month advanced Chocolate and Patisserie Course at The Culinary Arts Academy in Lucerne, Switzerland! To hone his craft, expand his culinary repertoire and continue to turn a passion into a viable career prospect.
The more we chatted with Selasi the less obscure the links between the worlds of biking and baking seemed. Both have similar qualities. Be it freedom, on the road or the kitchen. Or an element of independence and almost solitude, as most bakers and bikers predominantly work alone. Not forgetting the overlapping of complex mechanics, from the bikes inner workings and engine to the balancing of bake times and ingredient ratio’s.
We asked Selasi if he enjoys the mechanical side of owning a bike?
‘I’m not interested in the mechanics of the motorbike really. I would rather just ride and enjoy the views than be in a workshop.’ (Selasi can still fix up a motorbike though!).
We asked if Selasi had ever seen friends from his opposite worlds of baking and biking come together?
‘I tried with one biker friend but they weren’t interested! They just wanted to ride and not spend all that time in the kitchen and the closest a baking friend got was sitting on the bike!’
Although, his worlds might not be colliding just yet, the baking/biking similarities certainly haven’t stopped the likes of Paul Hollywood, The Hairy Bikers and of course Selasi (to name but a few) alternating between oven mitts and driving gloves, as often as they can.
An important question we wanted to ask Selasi was: what is your dream bike?
‘The one I own now! I got it 3 years ago, the BMW S1000RR.’
Selasi uses it to travel throughout London and has even enjoyed biking it from the capital all the way to the sleepy rolling hills of Somerset, to see fellow Bake Off contestant Val!
It was all smiles in England’s smallest cathedral city of Wells as the pair reunited. Causing an influx of Instagram comments of overjoyed Bake Off fans in their element as Bake Off’s favourite duo, after Mel and Sue of course, were back together once more. Rumour has it Val actually had her biking license before Selasi!
With his dream bike and experience on the roads we wanted to know if Selasi had ever toured further afield on his bike and what his dream bike tour would be?
‘I’ve toured Europe many times and often solo on a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure but would love to go to South America. Through Argentina, Columbia, Peru but ideally with a group.’
That sounds incredible! As lovers of sweet treats and baked goods we had to ask what delicious European delicacies Selasi had tried on route?
‘I had brioche in Turin in Italy which was soft and not too sweet. Switzerland it would have to be the chocolate of course! I went to Cafe Angelina in Paris where I tried Mont Blanc meringue and their patisseries, which were really good.’
Those all sound delicious! Who would you say is your current baking inspiration?
‘Biggest baking inspiration at the moment would have to be the French pastry chef Frank Haasnoot. His recipes and creations are amazing!’
What are your hopes for the future?
‘To work smart, keep baking and pushing myself to be creative and producing because everyone loves food and everyone especially loves cake! I think with Brexit and everything going on in the world we need cake more than ever.’
Wise words indeed and finally the burning question MY BAKER’s wanted to ask: what’s your favourite sweet treat?!
‘It would have to be chocolate fondant cake!’
An excellent choice! It was fantastic to be able to chat to Selasi and we hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about a fantastic baker and lover of cake. We wish Selasi the best of luck with his next baking endeavors and can’t wait to see what sweet treat he cooks up next!