baker Exclusive interview with great Irish Bake Off finalist Will
Bread: All Your questions answered
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Perfect cupcakes for the festive season
November 2013 €2.50 / £1.99
“We were really thrown in at the deep end” Barbara Crabtree chats to Will de Korte and gets all the GIBO gossip
Will creating his finale showstopper, inspired by Hook lighthouse
Will (right from centre) with his fellow contestants
Will’s Dutch-inspired cake
eeing myself on TV was so weird at first,” muses Will de Korte, runner up of TV3’s Great Irish Bake Off. The competition, which came to an end this week, saw Will finish behind Stephen Chisholm. Will is quick to compliment his fellow competitors, particularly Stephen. “I’ve met some extremely talented people and some great friends through the show, and I can honestly say the best man won. Stephen’s knowledge and skills are superb.” Born in Limerick to a Dutch father and English mother, Will has been around baking his entire life. His father and grandfather were a confectioners and cake decorators. Strangely though, it is actually his mother who he cites as his baking inspiration, and he describes how his father discouraged him from pursuing baking. “He told me about how hard the work is, and all the late nights can really impact your social life,” he says with a laugh. It seems that his Father’s advice stuck, as up until now Will has been strictly a social baker, making a living in the IT sector. Personally, Will has faced many struggles in his life. Like many from Limerick, he worked at the Dell plant and was made redundant in 2009. But Will took what could have been a crisis and turned it into an opportunity. At this time in his life Will was dangerously overweight, having struggled with it his entire life, and his redundancy finally pushed him to seriously change his life. Within six months Will had lost a whopping 89 kilos through a combination of diet and strict exercise regime. “I went to the gym twice a day, every day for eight months, it was really tough.” His struggles resurfaced during filming of the show, being surrounded by amazing sweets and treats on a daily basis. “It was hard, I definitely gained a few pounds but it could have been a lot worse! I’m still trying to get back to my pre bake-off weight,” he laughs. Before applying for the show, which celebrates amateur bakers, Will thought he had a fair idea of what he was getting into. “I’ve always been a huge fan of the Great British Bake Off, so when I heard about an Irish version I jumped at the chance to compete”. In reality though, it seems the competition is much harder than it looks on television, and trying to work with a television camera in your face really cranks up the pressure. “We had no practice at all in the kitchen before we started; we were really thrown in at the deep end. Getting the hang of the equipment was tough, but if you are a good baker your skill will always shine through. A bad baker will always blame their tools.” On the subject of the programme itself, Will has one or two criticisms. In his opinion, the programme puts too much emphasis on the visual element of the baking and not enough on taste. “I made a perfect chiffon cake one week and it was basically ignored. As well as that, it felt like the judging was a bit imbalanced. We’d all receive great feedback but now [having watched the programme] I’ve seen that the judges could do a complete 180 and say something totally different behind the scenes. Judging is one element of the show I still don’t fully understand.” Overall though he is very proud of the programme he was a part of. As for the future, Will has a few ideas about what he’d like to do next. Professionally, Will intends to finally become a baker full-time. Since the show has started airing he has been approached by many young fans who have told him they’ve been inspired to bake by him. “I feel really honoured when I hear that, I’ve always wanted to teach and I suppose in a way I did that.” When asked about creating a cookbook Will said he would love the opportunity but doesn’t see it happening any time soon. Currently he’s satisfied with updating his blog, The Cook’s Belly, and spending time with his fiancée. His main focus at the moment is wedding planning. Next May he will be marrying his fiancée Joanne, fittingly at Clonabreany House, where the Great Irish Bake Off took place. Of course, he will be baking his own wedding cake.