Chetna became the latest baker to leave The Great British Bake Off on Wednesday night, falling just short of reaching next week’s grand finale.
But the 35-year-old from Kent insists her Bake Off exit is just the start for her baking career, having caught the Bake off bug since moving to England from India 10 years ago.
Radio Times caught up with her just before the semi final to talk “fusion baking”, dealing with television fame and her future plans.
What’s it been like since appearing on The Great British Bake Off?
I live in a small town, so everybody has been stopping me to say hello and wish me well. Everyone knew it had already been filmed, but still they say, “Good luck for next Wednesday!” The one strange thing is how people watch me shopping. I bought a baking book the other day, and the person said at the till said, “Are you cheating?”
You’ve been dubbed the ‘Flavour Queen’ by Paul Hollywood – did you always want to use spices in your bakes?
There has been fusion cooking for hundreds of years, but there hasn’t been much of what you might call “fusion baking”. That was something I wanted to explore: when I made a Swiss roll in episode one, I added cardamom to the batter. I wanted to try and show a part of my personality in each bake, to use the flavours I knew and understood.
I wanted to try and show a part of my personality in each bake. I had the list of things we would be asked to make, and I wanted to follow a theme. From episode one I wanted to add my personal touch, use the flavours I knew and understood.
How did you get into baking?
I didn’t bake before I came to England; I’d made birthday cakes but that was about it. It was only because of Bake Off that I started baking regularly. I moved to England ten years ago, and totally get the British baking obsession. It used to only be something I’d do for occasions and weekends, but now it’s every single day.
The chutneys I made went down particularly well – not very helpful when it’s a baking programme! But they were all designed to complement the bakes, and they went down a treat with Paul and Mary and the other bakers. Eclairs were my favourite bake; I was waiting almost the whole series wondering if I was going to get to make them.
Did you really come up with caramel grapes by yourself?
I did, yes! [Chetna used them to decorate a multi-layered Dobos Torte.] Somebody said they had seen something similar, but I still haven’t read the idea anywhere else. I’m so proud of it: as Mary said, it’s such an easy technique, anyone can copy it.
I have lots of ideas about what I would like to do next. There’s nothing concrete in place at the moment, but I would love to work on a book and develop the ideas I had in the tent. Chetna’s chutneys, perhaps? I want to make this my profession, whatever shape or form that takes.