How clean is your oven at home? My ovens! I have two. When we re-did our kitchen I went to buy the oven and it was half price, so I bought two. I keep them nice and clean. At home they’re at eye level so I can just glance across, I don’t have to get right down and look in like you see us doing on Bake Off.
Was it competitive in the tent? Not at all. I found that we weren’t up against each other. We were up against the judges. I’d try to help people out all the time. I’d offer to help, and before I knew it there’d be someone from production telling me to go away.
Last year was an all-female final: are you standing up for boys who bake? The boys were thin on the ground for a long time: weeks three, four and five it always seemed to be boys going. Richard and I were desperately clinging on. I think we stood firm!
How did you balance work and filming? Bake Off requires months of work leading up to it. You have to prepare signature and showstopper recipes for weeks one to nine, regardless of how far you get. It all has to be original; you can’t just grab a book off the shelf.
Some nights I would be going to bed at three or four in the morning after practising a bake. People say they’ve practised loads of times, but in reality you might only have tried a recipe two or three times.
How long have you been baking? I was always a keen cook, but baking has been a relatively new thing. Bread and pastry are the two things I really enjoy doing; I do not do puddings. For most of it I relied on my heritage: being brought up in a Spanish household, cooking and eating were two of the key parts of growing up. The Spanish way of life definitely helped me through.
Your favourite bake? Without doubt my rye rolls. A friend was sat with me while I was playing around with the brief. I tried out a fancy pattern, and when they came out of the oven my friend went, “Crikey, you’re on to something here.” They earned me the Paul Hollywood handshake! He is the authority on bread, so for him to say he liked my rolls made my century.
Have you learnt anything about yourself? I come over as quite confident, but it didn’t feel that way. It’s been interesting watching the dynamic between me and the judges, because I always felt I blagged my way through those conversations. My job [he’s director of a marketing agency] involves pitching to people, so I guess that’s where it comes from. I’m not shy when it comes to talking.
What’s next? The one thing I was worried about was that the show would put me off baking, but it’s actually had the opposite effect: I enjoy baking more than ever. I really like teaching people, so that is the route I would like to go down. I never knew I had the ability to explain things until I saw myself doing it every week on TV.
Paul and Mary’s verdict
Paul says: “Luis is borderline professional; an innovator who deals with flavours that no one’s ever dealt with, and takes it to another level.”
Mary says: “He started by referring back to Spain, but gradually brought in different cultures, which added an extra dimension to The Great British Bake Off.”
The Great British Bake Off final is on BBC1 tonight at 8.00pm