John Whaite, the Manchester University law graduate who won the BBC's 2012 Great British Bake Off, prefers cooking to law and wants to own his own bakery.
In an interview withTVTimes, the 23-year-old post-graduate talked about his hopes for the future in light of his surprise win over fellow finalists Brendan Lynch, 63, and James Morton, 21.
Prior to this month’s final, Morton was the favourite to win the title. However, on the day, Whaite was crowned “Cake King” by the show’s judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, for his “Heaven and Hell Chiffon Cake” – consisting of a luscious dark-chocolate-and-orange base with lemon-and-coconut meringue cakelets on the top.
Whaite said, “I don’t want to […] count my chickens [but] my dream is to write recipe books, which I’m doing already, and I want to go to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and gain more expertise in patisserie. Ultimately I’d love my own bakery.”
Of the win, Whaite told theMirror, “It was a massive surprise to hear my name. No matter how well you have done you always doubt yourself [...] it was such a huge shock and my legs did go to jelly.”
Earlier this year, Whaite was juggling his final law exams with the baking contest, travelling back and forth from Manchester (for his law exams) to Bristol (for filming). “If I hadn't been in the middle of the [law] degree, I'm not sure I would have won. [Baking] gives you time to think and it also takes your mind off [studying] for a while. [However] It was tough [...] I finished one exam on a Friday and went to Bristol to film the semi-final before getting home late on Sunday in time for another exam on Monday,” he told the BBC afterwards.
At the moment, Whaite is working in a bank but, since winning the contest, the budding young pâtissier has said he wants to give up a future career in law for one in baking.
“My mum and stepdad wanted me to study law,” he said toWhat’s on TV. “So getting on [The Great British Bake Off] was a bit of a statement, it was me saying, ‘I’ve done what you wanted for so long, now let me prove myself doing something I love!’”
Having won the contest, Whaite says his parents are now fully behind his catering aspirations. “Winning made my mum so proud, and my stepdad said, ‘OK, John, you’re free to do what you want,’ [which means] the world to me,” he said.
John Whaite – who is openly gay and lives with his partner, Paul, in Manchester – has run a baking blog for over a year, where you can find some of his favourite recipes.