With just one week to the Great British Bake Off 2021 final, we can't help wondering who will be crowned this year's Ultimate Star Baker.
As we enter the semi-finals, we're left with Jürgen, Giuseppe, Crystelle and Chigs, who are all pretty strong contenders. But if any of the Great British Bake Off 2021 contestants deserves to take home the glass cake stand, it's got to be Chigs - for a number of reasons.
New to the baking world, Chigs only discovered his passion one year ago during the lockdown period in 2020. Through the help of online videos and tutorials, the sales manager from Leicestershire managed to teach himself how to create complex bakes and intricate chocolate work, which he's continued to show off and impress the judges with on the Channel 4 culinary show.
Given that Chigs only started baking last year, this means he has the least baking experience in comparison to Crystelle's three years, Jürgen's 15 + years, with the IT professional learning how to bake after he moved to the UK in 2003 and couldn't find his German faves, and Giuseppe's 40+ years, as he was inspired from a young age by his Italian Chef father.
Despite having the least experience, this definitely hasn't shown, with Chigs bagging the Star Baker title twice on the series - first in Week Four for his black forest gateau, which even Prue loved despite not normally being a fan, and again in Week Eight during the show's Free From Week, where he impressed with his gluten-free red velvet cake, and received one of the biggest compliments from Prue, as she declared: "The cake was faultless."
There's no denying Giuseppe and Jürgen are exceptional bakers, with both winning Star Baker multiple times. So far, Jürgen has the highest total of accolades at three Star Baker titles. Crystelle is also a Star Baker recipient and completely won the judges over with her curry terrine pie during Pastry Week, which was inspired by her grandmother.
But for me, Chigs represents everything Bake Off is about. It's about home bakers, contestants embarking on journeys and the unexpected, which sometimes sees the underdog rise up the ranks and win the title. Take 2019 winner Dave Atherton for instance. He didn't win Star Baker once on the 10th series, but swooped the winning title for his peachy picnic basket made of cakes and enriched bread.
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One of Atherton's main advantages in the tent was his ability to remain calm and composed during the heated competition - a trait Chigs has also shown, often appearing in the background as he gets on with his bakes.
Throughout most of the series, Chigs has maintained a happy medium, while frontrunners Jürgen and Giuseppe have been going neck and neck for Star Baker.
Evidently, they know what they're doing in the kitchen. You only have to think back to Week One where Giuseppe could be seen measuring his mini rolls with a ruler so they were exactly 8cm - very satisfying, I will admit, but is this more the work of a professional than a Bake Off star?
While I certainly wouldn't be turning down any of their bakes, it could be argued that Jürgen and Giuseppe are almost too good for Bake Off.
It's become predictable that they'll do well in the Signature, not come last in the Technical and ace the Showstopper, keeping their spot in the competition. All of which shows that they're great bakers, but doesn't show progression and removes those fun and exciting moments we all tune in to Bake Off for. As overused as the innuendo may be, we do need to see some soggy bottoms - it's arguably tradition.
Chigs on the other hand has shown growth and improvement on Bake Off. Don't get me wrong, he's a very good baker, hence why he's still in the competition, but he started out on the series at an intermediate level, producing steady bakes. And then in Week Four, we saw where his expertise lied, as he won his first Star Baker title.
He dropped back down in Week Five, but not too much to put him at risk of going home, showing that he does have the skills, and last week, he rose to the top again and received a Hollywood Handshake in the process.
Having learnt how to bake at the age of 40 during the pandemic, Chigs' win will show viewers that anything is possible, and you can learn a new skill at any age.
All that's left really is for him to sail through to the finals and bag the glass cake stand!