Tom Kerridge, who fronts the new TV show Bake Off: Crème de la Crème which launches on BBC Two this evening, has said he is proud to be associated with a programme that "finally represents the fantastic pastry chefs in the UK that are often overlooked".
The eight-week competition, based on the phenomenally successful British Bake Off series, gives professional pastry chefs the chance to showcase their skills to a wider audience.
The two-Michelin-starred chef, who has competed in Great British Menu and has also judged MasterChef: the Professionals, emphasised the team element of the show: "It's the first professional show with teams competing and it actively promotes teamwork, and it's the first TV show to truly represent pastry chefs and their incredible skills," he said.
The series, incorporating five heats, two semi-finals and a final, was filmed at Wellbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire and Kerridge said it was an honour to be involved.
"It's a rollercoaster of a competition. There are some disasters along the way and some teams coming back from the ashes, but I can tell you there was no script and nothing was pre-determined. It's a hugely credible and honest show and wonderful to watch. It was exciting to be a part of it."
He explained that the judges, Benoit Blin, Claire Clark and Cherish Finden, judge pastry competitions all over world and that they judged the show's competitors to these same exacting standards. "This show really sets the bar for pastry chefs and industry chefs will want to be a part of it in the future," he added.
Kerridge, who filmed the show during his most recent book tour, said his brief was to be the link between the teams and the audience: "The chefs demonstrate their technical skills and it was my job to explain the terminology and methods they used. I understand the language used in the kitchen, so I was there to explain it in layman's terms. I'm just like the viewer - I can't do pastry at this level, but it's inspirational and we wanted to convey that.
"My role was to be impartial at all times and help the teams feel more at ease," he added. "I've been in their shoes and its nerve-wracking."
Bake Off: Crème de la Crème starts tonight at 8pm on BBC Two
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