Paul Hollywood reveals why he's getting really excited about Bake Off's huge move to C4 this year and why he loved his recent trip to Los Angeles
After all the dramatic Bake Off headlines, Paul Hollywood says he’s finally looking forward to a ‘brand new adventure’ as he prepares for the show’s big move to C4 without Mary, Sue and Mel later this year. And the 51-year-old has already had a great start to the year by travelling all over the world for the return of his solo TV series, City Bakes, which will run over ten weeks on Food Network. TV Times caught up with Paul Hollywood, who lives in Kent with his wife, Alex, and their teenage son, Josh, in Los Angeles to chat about Bake Off and his new series…
How do you feel about Bake Off moving to C4?
“I love my job and my loyalty is to the team who work on the show. There can be as many as 100 people working behind the scenes and it’s the same people every year. I’m always very loyal to those I work with. I am on-screen but we are all part of the team. Now it is approaching, I am getting excited. Chapter one has finished, the ride was amazing and now chapter two is about to start. It’s a brand new adventure and it will be the same tent. The only change is the hosts and judge. But I am really looking forward to it.”
Are you proud of how successful the show has become?
“Definitely. It’s taken baking to a different place and it’s really nice getting messages via my Twitter from people all over the world.”
Mary and Paul above for the last ever Bake Off on BBC1, Christmas 2016
What can we expect from the new series of City Bakes?
“We’re going to lots of different cities including Cape Town, LA, Palermo, Bergen and Jerusalem to find out about the lifestyle, culture and what they enjoy eating. I’ve loved it all and it’s been really fascinating to visit so many different but interesting places.”
Which cities did you enjoy most?
“They were all great but in terms of a wish list, Palermo in Sicily was at the top and I go there in the opening episode. Antwerp was also interesting and I enjoyed going back to Cyprus, where I first worked. I love the people of Norway and visiting Bergen was amazing. It was so stunning. As for Los Angeles, we all said we had to do ‘Hollywood does Hollywood’!”
Did you love Hollywood?
“Yes. It’s such an exotic but cool city. I kept seeing the word Hollywood everywhere which made it seem more like home to me! What’s fascinating about LA is how urban it is and how much their diet does fit around the climate. Everyone is on the beach and the reason why they feel they have to look good is the fact that everyone is always in shorts. They’re more acutely aware of their body. I’d not thought about that aspect before and it was really interesting. Mind you, my uncle came to Hollywood in the 1980s and when he came to pay for a meal, they couldn’t believe his name was Hollywood and they gave him two free meals! That didn’t happen to me!”
You get to bake on City Bakes. What was the hardest bake?
“I enjoyed making a White Lady cake in Belgium. It’s got marzipan, sponge, cream and jam in it. I had never made one before and it was tricky. But it was beautiful to taste.”
Is it tough being away from your family?
“Yes it is but Alex tries to join me when she can. But this is a job I love and I do pinch myself regularly that I have been so lucky. I was driving around LA for the show and I just couldn’t believe a guy from the Wirral was getting paid to do that. I still go back to see my friends in Liverpool and they will often ask me what I have been doing. I actually don’t tell them sometimes because I don’t want it to appear like I am showing off.”
Who does the cooking in the Hollywood household?
“My wife, Alex, does a lot of cooking at home. She is amazing. If we have friends over, I might make the desert.”
How much has your life changed since being on the Great British Bake Off?
“It’s changed a lot but I do believe you should grab every opportunity that comes your way and enjoy it. I’ve been lucky because all the projects I have been involved in, I have enjoyed.”
Now you are in your fifties, do you worry more about your health?
“No I try not to dwell on things. I’m in a job where I do have to eat sweet things but it’s about a balance. I am really happy right now and I am enjoying everything.”
What are your favourite meals?
“I love Lobster pasta, a fresh baguette with butter or a Northern chip shop sausage tea! I don’t like porridge because when I was young, my mum gave it to me and I was sick. I’ve always thought about that moment since.”
Paul Hollywood: City Bakes starts on Food Network, Monday 20 March, 9pm