You need nerves of steel to apply for Bake Off: The Professionals.
Not only do you need to be brave enough to put your reputation on the line, but you’ll face a series of fiendishly testing challenges, only for judges Cherish and Benoit to pour scorn all over your pavlova.
Still, the contestants keep on coming, bright-eyed and hoping that they will be the ones to shine.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 12 teams competing on this year’s series and the restaurants they’re representing.
The Lounge – Andrew and Ian
Andrew and Ian are representing their independently run Ramsbottom restaurant, The Lounge. Owner, Andrew, has worked for five Michelin Star restaurants in his career, and opened his first restaurant in 2004. Two years later, he opened The Lounge. Ian only joined a year ago but is already part of the family. They are proud to represent the North and want to show the patisserie world what they’re capable of.
Park Plaza Hotels – Domenico and Alessandra
Italian Domenico’s career began when his dad sent him to work in a pastry factory to keep him off the streets. He has since train at prestigious institutions and represented both Italy and Europe in patisserie competitions. Domenico is now Head Pastry Chef at Park Plaza Hotels in London where he manages Alessandra. She credits Domenico with teaching her most of what she knows, having worked with him for many years in both the UK and Italy.
Lexington Catering – Natalie and Kristine
Natalie is Head Pastry chef at award-winning London-based catering company, Lexington Catering, who create bespoke treats for banks, law firms and agencies in the city. Desserts are in Natalie’s blood – her grandma worked at McVities! A highlight of her successful career was winning Silver for her pastillage work at the UK’s largest hospitality event in 2002. She met Kristine bon a chocolate course and they became firm friends.
The Ivy – Clanny and Ryan
World famous restaurant and celebrity hangout The Ivy needs no introduction – but who would be brave enough to put its reputation on the line?! Clanny and Ryan both grew up in Goa and have become Head Pastry Chefs – Clanny for the members club, Ivy Club, and Ryan at The Ivy’s main restaurant. Having made desserts for The Queen, JK Rowling and Prince William they believe they can handle any pressure Cherish and Benoit throw at them!
Andaz Hotel – James and Neta
Le Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef James moved from South Australia to London in 2011 to pursue his career. He worked at Dominic Ansel’s Bakery in London (the man credited with inventing the cronut!) where he met Neta. Neta grew up in Israel and served in the army for nearly five years before switching careers. Both James and Neta now work at the 5 star Andaz Hotel in London. They believe their friendship and experience will help them stand out.
T.Sweetmap – Tracy and Moos
For Tracy, baking started out as just a hobby she enjoyed at weekends. Eventually she resigned from her job as a counsellor to become a professional pastry chef, gaining experience in London and Paris and opening T.sweetmap, her business making bespoke celebration cakes. Moos has a string of impressive institution on his CV – The Ritz, The Connaught, The Langham to name a few – and helps Tracy with her business.
Cakes and Bubbles – Grete and Rosamaria
Cakes and Bubbles is a ‘dessert only restaurant’ within 5 star London hotel, the Café Royal (why aren’t there more dessert emporiums like this? Sounds great!). Grete is Head Pastry Chef and offered Rosamaria her job – she was so thrilled to accept that she moved her life from Italy to London to work there. The pair are great friends outside of work and believe they have an advantage in the competition as they already make posh desserts every single day.
Cocorico Patisserie – Thibault and Laurian
Representing Cardiff patisserie Cocorico, Laurian and Thibault may look familiar – and that’s because they’ve been on the show before! Having reached the final and narrowly missed out on victory they are determined to win this year. Lauren founded Cocorico in 2010 and Thibault, who came 2nd in the UK Sugar Championships in 2017, began working with his five years ago.
Talland Bay Hotel – Nick and Paul
Flying the flag for Cornwall, Talland Bay Hotel’s Head Chef Nick and Pastry Chef Paul have worked together for 12 years and bring out each other’s strengths. Nick worked at lots of different hotels before taking his current position in 2013, where he creates inventive menus for his guests. Paul’s career path was more unexpected – he trained to work in the antiques trade but decided pastry was his calling after falling into a job as a kitchen porter.
Macdonald Berystede – Ioan and Mareks
Representing their 4 star Berkshire hotel, Ioan and Mareks are both new dads hoping to do their employer and their families proud! Ioan was born in Romania and worked at various hotels in the UK before becoming Head Chef at Macdonald Berystede. He works alongside sous chef Mareks who grew up in Latvia and began his career helping out at a friend’s bakery.
The Hurlingham Club – Ruth and Laura
Representing exclusive London members club, The Hurlingham, Ruth and Laura are hoping to become the first ever all-female team to win the series. Ruth has racked up an impressive list of Michelin-starred restaurants on her CV, while Laura initially worked in banking before pursuing her dreams. The best friends met while training at Le Cordon Bleu and spend a lot of time together outside of work, often dog walking.
Venachar Lochside – Theodore and Neil
Fine dining restaurant Venachar Lochside boasts great food and a beautiful setting in the heart of Loch Lomand. Theodore got his first job at 14 and became an apprentice under Albert Roux, which launched his pastry career. Neil was a delivery driver but illness stopped him working for a while, and then he decided to pursue a new career path. In 2018 was awarded Bronze in Scottish Chef of the Year. Neil will be Theo’s best man at his upcoming wedding.
Bake Off: The Professionals returns to Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesday 26th May. To find out what else is on TV, check out our TV Guide.