Regina baker still going strong at The Great Canadian Baking Show

·3 min read
Stephen Nhan, 30, is a health administrator from Regina, Sask. (Great Canadian Baking Show/Steve Carty - image credit)
Stephen Nhan, 30, is a health administrator from Regina, Sask. (Great Canadian Baking Show/Steve Carty - image credit)

For some people home baking is just a hobby, but one Regina man is taking it to the next level.

Stephen Nhan is one of the initially 10 home bakers competing in season 5 of The Great Canadian Baking Show, which premiered on Oct. 17 at CBC.

"The first week of competition, it was very nerve-racking for me," said Nhan.

"I was at the very front in the tent, so I didn't really have much opportunity to ... look back behind and see what the other bakers were doing."

The participants all work at different baking stations in the show's iconic big tent, set up with all the equipment they need to make delicious pastry.

Nhan said he was blown away when he finally got to see the results of the others.

"Then I had this overwhelming feeling of like imposter syndrome. Oh my gosh, do I belong here?"

Judges Bruno Feldeisen and Kyla Kennaley, however, were impressed when the 30-year-old presented his first bake in the tent, a pound cake.

"That was a very good feeling, knowing that I was able to bring some of my Southeast Asian flavours in and they said they enjoyed it," said Nhan.

"It was like, wow, maybe I am doing something right?"

LISTEN | Meet Stephen Nhan, a Regina Baker on The Great Canadian Baking Show:

Telling a story through baking

Nhan, a health administrator from Regina, was glued to cooking shows as a child and used to help his parents — who immigrated to Canada from Vietnam — in their Chinese-Canadian restaurant.

According to the show's website, thousands of bakers from across the country apply to show off their talent on The Great Canadian Baking Show.

There are different challenges the bakers face during the show, including a signature bake, a technical bake and so-called showstoppers where the judges are looking for creative, innovative as well as professional-grade baking both in appearance and taste.

Episode 2 of this season, for example, featured cookie week where participants worked on creative cookie projects.

LISTEN | Regina baker going strong on The Great Canadian Baking Show:

"The one main thing that I took away from that cookie challenge was every single one of those bakers had a story to tell with their cookie mosaic," said Nhan.

"I think that's what baking is all about ... telling a story through your bakes."

Heart mosaic

Nah's cookie mosaic was in the shape of a heart, accompanied by the song Achy Breaky Heart.

He said this was a reflection of what the year 2021 has meant to him.

"I did have a really difficult time," said Nhan.

"A lot of people were impacted by the pandemic, but then my family also had a really rough time with it as well."

The music and mosaic represented a broken heart, he said, a feeling he connects with his grandmother and aunt passing away earlier this year.

The mosaic, however, also symbolized a broken heart being put back together, said the Regina baker.

"The broken heart being put back together was all the love and support that my extended family created…. I wanted to encourage everyone to choose love and not hate."

After two episodes, eight participants out of the 10 are left to compete for the title of Canada's Best Amateur Baker.

Saying goodbye to fellow bakers is not always easy, said Nhan, since they spend a lot of time together, on and off set.

"But on the other hand ... you want to continue moving forward to demonstrate your skills."

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