John Whaite was named as this year’s winner in the gripping finale of BBC Two’s The Great British Bake Off last night.
The 23-year-old Manchester University law graduate took home the coveted title in the third series of the BAFTA award-winning amateur baking television show, which was reported to secure around six million viewers.
He beat off stiff competition from the series’ youngest contestant, 21-year-old medical student James Morton from the Shetland Islands, as well as 63-year-old semi-retired recruitment consultant Brendan Lynch.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning about why viewers watch the show, Whaite said: “I think what it is about The Great British Bake Off is that not only is it about food that the UK loves, but it’s a really homely and friendly competition – that’s what is fresh in the media at the moment and that’s why people love it.”
He has confirmed that he is saving up so he can afford to train at either the Le Cordon Bleu of Ritz Escoffier patisserie schools in Paris, as well as planning to release his own recipe book and open up a bakery business in the future.
"Hopefully I can be a patissier but the future is blurry so you will have to watch this space at the minute, but I know where I want to go," he added. "I’ve would love write my own book, as I’ve been writing my own blog for about a year now, and I just want to keep baking and get the nation baking. There should be a bakery on every street corner and it’s my ambition to help that movement.
"I think baking is an entrenched tradition in the UK, and it’s thanks to programmes like The Great British Bake Off that these are starting to re-emerge."
The three budding bakers were tested to their limits in the last show of the 10-programme series with a number of challenges, judged by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. This included the finalists making a savoury-filled pithivier in the signature challenge and 25 fondant fancies as part of the show’s last technical challenge.
Whaite managed to win over the judges in the showstopper bakery challenge with a heaven and hell-themed chiffon cake, consisting of a dark chocolate and orange base, topped with lemon and coconut meringue miniature cakes.
Hollywood said: “John was fantastic. He had his ups and downs through the whole series, but actually, overall, when he nails it, he absolutely nails it. His thought processes are design and baking and, for the first time, they just joined up. The passion the guy has is just phenomenal.”
Berry added: "He showed us that he could bake to an exceedingly high standard. He knows how to design a cake, amd he has a modern twist."
Contestants from this year’s series of the British show are also looking to pursue careers in baking, including Cathryn Dresser and Sarah-Jane Willis, both from West Sussex, who have decided to partner up and create their own market stall business.
Manisha Parmar from Leicester has seen an increase in demand for her celebration cakes, while Ryan Chong, who lives in Bristol, is touring Europe to learn more about artisan baking.
The Great British Bake Off has helped to raise the profile of baking among the masses, with its producers already calling for keen amateur bakers to come forward and apply for the show’s fourth series, and the format now secured in other countries, such as Ireland and Australia.
Last night’s final saw a flurry of responses on social media website Twitter, with the show trending as a topic of discussion among online users while the programme aired. The semi-final, which aired last Tuesday (9 October) also managed to secure 5.6 million viewers.
Janice Hadlow, BBC Two controller, told The Independent: “I’m absolutely thrilled by the phenomenal success of The Great British Bake Off – all the ingredients of record ratings, a worthy winner, the expertise of Mary and Paul, wonderful presenters Mel and Sue and a brilliant series put together by Love Productions, plus of course all those irresistible cakes have come together to make a very special programme for BBC Two.”