After 10 weeks of intense baking, Kolkata boy Rahul Mandal came out victorious in The Great British Bake Off Season 9 by defeating fellow finalists Ruby Bhogal and Kim-Joy Hewlett.
The 30-year-old research scientist landed in the UK in 2010 to pursue a PhD at Loughborough University. Currently working at Sheffield University’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, he has been actively baking only for the last two years and was forced into applying for the competition due to a very persistent friend who would keep forwarding the application link to him.
An underdog through the season, Mandal had to ace three finale challenges—frying doughnuts, make pita bread and dips on a camp fire, and an ‘Edible Landscape’ show stopper challenge. Mandal’s, performance was unfortunately marred by disasters. The young baker had never eaten a doughnut, let alone make one! But being a creative hustler, Mandal devised a mango-filled doughnut and another topper with buttercream frosting. This is when disaster struck—his icing exploded! He overcame the mess and went on to tackle the forces of nature to make pita bread and three dips in the open on a camp fire—a tough task for all three finalists.
The final challenge involved creating a showstopper of an elaborate edible landscape with a minimum of three different elements. Mandal chose to create a rock garden, reminiscent of those created by Victorian explorers. But disaster struck again when a mixing bowl shattered due to the heat. He was given an additional 15 minutes to finish his creation.
His innovative doughnuts and elaborate landscape impressed judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith as much as the British television audience and social media. Mandal’s admirers include author J.K. Rowling who took to Twitter: “And in a hundred years time @qikipedia will do the space age version of a tweet explaining that turmeric first became an essential component of Yorkshire pudding when Prime Minister Rahul Mandal (2019 - 2028) added it during a cooking competition he won before running for office.”
Ask the shy young man, what is his favourite baked goodie? According to a press release by Channel 4, he says, “Favourite cake to make would either be a Victoria sponge with jam, cream and berries or lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd and fresh cream. I think to keep me alive on a deserted island .... I would bake some hearty biscuits with dried fruit, nuts and seeds in them. It will be something like Scottish bannock biscuits as they are tasty, stay fresh longer and easy to carry a lot in a small space.”
Though the British reality show does not offer much in the way of prizes, Mandal can easily expect cookbook deals from publishers and endorsements. One of the reasons for Mandals’ popularity has been his unique approach to baking where he used Indian influences in distinctly British baking techniques. It has been described as ‘East meets West.’ The young scientist, however, is more than happy to go back to his lab and bake for his friends and family.
Congratulations, Mr Rahul Mandal!
Images: Courtesy Channel 4
To feed your hunger for more
Want more? Click on the tags below for more videos and stories