When it comes to baking, Peter Gordon is, as marketing-type people might say, ‘on brand’.
The award-winning chef, cookbook author and judge on The Great Kiwi Bake Off loves getting into the kitchen and whipping up treats.
“I love baking,” he says. “In London, our restaurant, The Providores, I guess for the last 12 months of that – we closed in July 2019 – when I wasn’t doing the usual stuff of just being the owner, you know, when you’re dealing with all sorts of other stuff, the section that I would most do would be dessert.
“I love baking scones, I love baking bread, I love making pastry. It’s a great skill.”
On The Great Kiwi Bake Off, which is back on our screens for another season from Thursday, January 25, Gordon is a judge alongside professional baker Jordan Rondel.
The show is hosted by comedians Pax Assadi (Raised By Refugees, Endangered Species Aotearoa With WWF) and Hayley Sproull (Have You Been Paying Attention?, 7 Days).
While Assadi and Sproull inject their own brand of humour into Bake Off, Gordon and Rondel have a more serious role. It’s their job to critique the contestants’ kitchen creations.
While he is clearly in his element being part of a food show, Gordon is not about to cast judgement on those who don’t share his enthusiasm for baking.
“The joy of baking is just lovely, but you know, it’s a little bit messy,” he says.
“You’re going to have to clean up your bench afterwards, you’re going to have to weigh everything out. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got the cream of tartar or the baking soda. You’ve got to have a well-stocked pantry. I can see why people don’t bake.
“To be fair, I know a lot of chefs – like really high professional chefs – who are terrible bakers and they hate doing desserts and stuff because they have to be so precise.
“Say if you’re making a soup or a stew, you can just bung it all together and it will probably work out – just make sure it’s seasoned nicely.
“And I love that process too. But if you’re going to bake a cake and you’ve got the wrong size egg or maybe the butter is too firm, or you’ve got the wrong sugar, it can go wrong. So I can see why people can get a bit nervous. I think that’s why the show is wonderful.
“You see that those people are not professional chefs. They are just really keen home bakers with skills and they can knock things up under enormous pressure because there is a camera crew, there is Hayley and Pax walking through, and Jordan and I interrupting everything.
“It’s amazing anything turns out properly quite frankly.
“But I think that’s what’s lovely about Bake Off. You just see in the space of a short of amount of time, these people can produce the most incredible stuff.”
The Bake Off location is, like for the past season, on a farm property in the coastal settlement of Muriwai, West Auckland.
“It’s just an incredible place,” says Gordon.
“I’m sure there will be wonderful shots but, man, the weather there gets pretty wild.
“There are days where sponge has been baked and it’s all lovely but outside it’s like hurricane and typhoon weather and the rain is horizontal and the sheep are running all over the place.”
When he is not sampling sweet and savoury treats on television, and subsequently offering feedback, Gordon and his partner run Homeland, a cooking school, community space and dining room.
It’s a busy life but despite the demands on his time, Gordon enjoys the variety of his work life – which includes meeting people from all walks of life.
“That’s the wonderful side of hospitality, which is why it would be good if more young people decided to make that their career because it’s really social,” he says.
“Cooking food and providing food – it’s just such a wonderful privilege to be able to do that all the time.
“I love my career. I’m really lucky. I’ve got a really good mix of all sorts of stuff. Being an owner-operator, it’s incredibly stressful. You know, ‘Can you pay the bills? Are you short staffed?’… rather than being able to turn up for work and go home each day.
“It’s also just incredibly satisfying.”
The Great Kiwi Bake Off, TVNZ 1 and TVNZ+, Thursday, from January 25.