he Show: The Great Canadian Baking Show, Season 1, Episode 2 (CBC)
The Moment: The bagel judging
It’s bread week, the technical challenge: “The judges are looking for 12 Montreal bagels of consistent size, baked to a golden colour, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside,” co-host Julia Chan explains.
Judge Bruno Feldeisen samples the first bagel. “I’m looking always for crispiness and chewiness inside,” Bruno says. He chews. “And it’s achieved.”
Next baker. “Mine is crispy,” Bruno says. “Chewy.”
“The texture is pretty good,” offers his co-judge, Rochelle Adonis.
Next baker: “These look OK,” Rochelle says. “I think it’s a fair effort.”
“Mine is crispy,” Bruno says.
Last baker. “Overall,” Rochelle says, “I think these are quite consistent.”
I’d say the judging is consistent, too — consistently dull. There should be more to it than simply reiterating the expectations that the host just announced, and then ticking off yes or no for each baker.
In The Great British Baking Show, on which this series is modelled, the judges have a deep, abiding feel for what British baking is, historically — what an Eccles cake or a Victoria sponge represents to the culture, and how updating traditions can bring glory or peril. They don’t just judge, they instruct. And we get a civics lesson as well as a culinary one.
Canada doesn’t have the same nationwide, historical baking traditions. So the judges should give us something else — a feel for regional traditions in baking, perhaps, a sense of how the recipe fits into a specific culture and why that matters. At the very least they need to offer more teaching tips.