If “The Great British Baking Show” is one of your guilty pleasures, this time of year gives you the warm fuzzies and you’re into the whole showbiz scene, The Roku Channel is serving up a holiday present for you: “The Great American Baking Show Celebrity Holiday Special.”
Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith ventured to America – big white tent and all – where celebrities “get to back in the hot sun while pretending it’s Christmas,” as the special’s co-host Ellie Kemper (“The Office”) puts it. Those celebrities competing are “The Good Place” star D’Arcy Carden, Chloe Fineman of “Saturday Night Live,” actor and writer Nat Faxon (“The Connors”), NFL legend Marshawn Lynch, comedian Joel Kim Booster and social media comedian Liza Koshy.
While Faxon asked, “How do you bake in a tent? How does the tent not burn down?” (He does have a good point), Fineman said, “It’s really hard not to do a British accent. Everyone here is British.” And although Booster said he had “never baked a day in his life,” he predicted “I’m going to get that handshake for sure. I know it,” referring to Hollywood’s rarely given gesture that a bake is absolutely perfect.
As the group prepped for the first of three challenges, Carden sings, “I’m stressed and I’m scared and I don’t feel good.”
“The holiday season is really when you get a chance to maintain the traditions of your family or your nation when you actually make the time to do things like teach children … and pass down those traditions,” Leith told TheWrap. “And I think that that’s important and that brings a lot of joy. And it’s the things those children, those grandchildren will remember when they’re grown up. ‘My mom or my granny taught me to make this pecan pie.’”
Leith said that although she does worry that “most of us eat far too much sugar, far too much calories generally” and “tend to eat the wrong food and too much of it,” there is something to be said for the joy it brings.
“You have to remember that cooking and food is a joy, and the reason that we can’t resist it all the time is because it gives us a tiny little bit of pleasure in an otherwise stressful life. And so it’s lovely to have a time of the year when it is OK to have a groaning sideboard and to have lots of lovely food, preferably, I hope, home-baked because I think that’s part, part of the joy of it.”
Although there were a few foibles under the tent – Hollywood describes one bake as “a decoration of a war scene” and one of the celebs split their pants – when all was said and done, the celebrities impressed the judges.
“I am shocked because the standard in the tent in the last few days has been very, very good,” Hollywood said.
“I think this is quite worrying,” Leith added with a grin. “Does this mean that Americans are just better bakers?”
“I would certainly agree with the fact that I think the celebrity bakers are better than the British bakers,” Hollywood said. “I mean there was not one flavor I was disappointed in.” He even rated one celebrity’s showstopper as “spectacular.”
“The Great American Baking Show Celebrity Holiday Special” is now available to stream on The Roku Channel. And come 2023, watch for “The Great American Bake Show” at a date later to be released.