Paul Hollywood is pretty good at setting records. In 2008, he created what was Britain’s most expensive bread at the time: an almond and Roquefort bread priced at £ 15 at Harrods. He Great British Bake Offwith which it has become synonymous, it became the most-watched program in the history of BBC Two, with 9.1 million viewers by the end of the fourth season.
In 2016, the latest BBC series, Remove from oven offered nine of the 10 most-watched shows of the year, with a maximum of 16 million viewers. And since its transition to Channel 4, since 1985 it has attracted the maximum audience of the channel for a television series.
Some might say that, with its icy blue look and fast rhythms, it made cooking almost lonely.
“Don’t look at me,” laughs the 56-year-old as we talk to Zoom: He wears sunglasses and sits outdoors at his home in Kent. “Was Remove from oven that made cooking fresh, not me. Even though I was once giving a speech at an elementary school and I got to my Aston Martin. At question time, a guy raised his hand and said he wanted to be a baker because he wanted to drive a car like mine. It was good. I think it’s amazing that many of today’s younger generation choose to make brownies instead of playing video games. Anything is better than them on social media. ”
Before Going out, Hollywood had worked as a baker in hotels and resorts around the world, with a number of television appearances on the side: Did he have any idea what the show would cause? “Honestly, it was a big surprise,” he admits.
“I used to work mainly in hotels like The Dorchester in London or Cliveden House Hotel in Berkshire, and it was great. When the TV came on, I thought it would be the icing on the cake, but it turned out to be a cake in itself. I guess it went really well because it’s a break with other reality shows. It is very healthy and British, and the cuisine affects all ages, from five to 95 ”.
Soft on the inside
The biggest Remove from oven he has become, the more the nation has begun to see Hollywood as the Simon Cowell of the pastry world – a stern, senseless judge who will smile at any soaked background presented to him.
However, he seems much more sensitive to real life, not to mention dozens of stories from contestants, who have claimed that the Wirrall-born judge is a big hairy when the cameras are off. Is the tough guy an act?
“I like to give it directly to competitors,” he explains. “I am on the program to be tried, and that is what I am doing. But when all is said and done, it doesn’t matter if your cake wasn’t great that day. Come on, it’s not the end of the world; it’s a cake.
Another thing Remove from oven brought Hollywood was fame, not always of good quality. Her face was plastered on the tabloids in the 2010s after her nearly 20-year-old marriage failed when she had an affair with a co-judge. The American pastry contest, then started dating 23-year-old British waiter Summer Monteys-Fullam. It’s something the baker says has had a “big” effect on him.
“I had to learn how to deal with intrusion into my personal life,” he says. “The paparazzi go too far, and I’m trying to deal with all these personal things while they’re in the public eye. It’s incredibly difficult when everyone thinks they know everything.
“It simply came to our notice then. I want to be angry. I understand that it is part of the territory, but it is the disadvantage of having a television career. Now I am more of a hermit; I don’t go out much and, if I do, it’s a place I know and I can keep my head down. “
Maybe Hollywood is less Simon Cowell and more Dermot O’Leary, a sensitive soul who prefers peace and quiet. In fact, many people will be surprised to find that he once dreamed of becoming a sculptor after graduating from the Wallasey School of Art. It is a hobby that continues to this day.
“There’s a lot of art in my family,” says Hollywood, whose mother, Gill, was a graphic artist, while her father was a baker. “When I was shooting Remove from oven during the confinement we were all locked together in a hotel, so to spend Christmas time [Fielding] and would make small sugar creations. I would like to go back to sculpture. I am very tactile.
Despite his artistic talent and his fondness for motorcycles (“There’s nothing like the freedom to be on the road,” he smiles), cooking remains Hollywood’s first love.
“I have loved it since I was a child and I started making gingerbread cookies with my mother. I still feel that nostalgia that comes to my mind when I smell it now.
He has come a long way since then. Now he has not only starred in his cooking series, Paul Hollywood City Bake I Paul Hollywood eats Japan, also published seven cookbooks, many of which were bestsellers. His last, run, collects your best recipes for cakes, cookies, bread, pizza, donuts, pastries and cakes.
“I really enjoy playing and updating old recipes,” he says. “I love how the classics have changed thanks to the change in our palates and the ingredients available in supermarkets. This is where I’m happiest: in my kitchen I make new recipes or perfect old ones, even though I don’t mind making birthday cakes for friends. If they ask politely.
OVEN by Paul Hollywood, published by BloomsburYes, now available (£ 26 RRP, hardcover)