Celebrated pastry chef Claire Clark has confirmed that she will not be involved in the second series of BBC Two TV show Bake Off: Crème de la Crème, due to start later this year.
Speaking to The Caterer, Clark explained: "The next series will only require two judges, as the tasks will be simplified."
The change is thought to be the result of some criticism levelled at the show when the first series, aired back in May, that it was too technical for fans of the original Bake Off concept hosted by Mary Berry and chef Paul Hollywood.
Clark, a Master of Culinary Arts, said she was disappointed not to be continuing with the show, but added that she had enjoyed the process and was pleased to see pastry receiving the limelight it deserves.
"I am always delighted to be involved in anything around the education of pastry and baking, and while I am sorry not to be taking part in the next series, I wish all the competitors best of luck and, of course, my fellow judges Cherish Finden [executive pastry chef at the Langham, London] and Benoit Blin [chef-pâtissier at Belmond Le Manor aux Quat'Saisons] a great second show - they are exceptional patissiers. Anything that raises the profile of pastry work and baking is a positive thing."
The spin-off from Berry and Hollywood's Bake Off series, Bake Off: Crème de la Crème, was originally named Bake Off: The Professionals. Hosted by chef Tom Kerridge, the programme received favourable reviews in the professional world of pastry.
Commenting to The Caterer on the eve of the show in March, Kerridge said that he was proud to be involved in the show and to be associated with a programme that finally represented the fantastic pastry chefs in the UK that were often overlooked.
The launch series, which saw Mark Tilling, Helen Vass and Samantha Rain claim the inaugural trophy, incorporated five heats, two semi-finals and a final, and was filmed at Welbeck Abbey in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.
But Clark said that her exit from the show will allow her to concentrate fully on her thriving supply business, Pretty Sweet, with business partner Sarah Crouchman, their relocation to new and bigger premises in Park Royal, north-west London, next month, a potential TV show of their own, and the opening of Clark's new cookery school, the Claire Clark Academy for Pâtisserie Excellence.
"Not being involved in the programme does allow me time to focus on what's happening right now with the business and my own academy in partnership with Milton Keynes College, but I would certainly welcome the opportunity to be involved in any educational food programmes in the future."
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