Reflections on The Great British Bake-off

This post was written by Holly Boud, Humanities Center Intern

I have recently started The Great British Bake-off on Netflix (I know, I am late to the game). I haven’t gotten through very much—only the first season, but like many of you, I find it utterly delightful. I love getting to know the contestants through their signature bakes. I love watching them blindly rely on their knowledge of baking in the technical challenges. I love watching them design and build for the show-stopper challenge, and I love watching the surprised look on their faces when they win “star baker” for the week.

It brings all the minute technicality and skill of an American cooking show together with all the politeness and refinement of British culture. No one screams or throws away something in a panic. They always seem surprised and delighted with positive feedback. Everyone remains so put together in comparison with an American reality TV show. One of my favorite aspects of this show is how these amateur bakers, in a collage of graphic designers, furniture repairers, builders, students, retirees, mothers and fathers, the old and the young, etc., all come together in communal love of baking.

The contestants that do really well, usually, are those whose skills in their other fields meld to their advantage in a perfect bake and design. The graphic designer, for instance, repeatedly blows my mind with his creativity and design. For the 3D cookie challenge he built and designed George slaying the dragon! It was (as the British would say) fab! Little did he know that his job of graphic design would come into play so profoundly in a baking show.

It got me thinking about the skills we develop as Humanities students (wherever you might be on that spectrum of Humanities or student), and how our various employments in the world will require us to implement the skills we have learned. The skills we develop of empathy, creativity, strong writing and analytical thinking, how we dig deep and question everything, will benefit even the most unlikely professions for a Humanities grad.

You might not be cooking pastries (or you might, who am I to say?), but your education, whatever that might look like, will be valuable to you in whatever field you walk into. No experience goes wasted. It will never hurt you to know more. Just ask the contestants on The Great British Bake-off. Continue to learn and develop your mind and skills in whatever capacity you find yourself, and you might one day have Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood congratulate you on a scrumptious bake.

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