Podcast Episode 107

Matty Edgell: The Schoolteacher Who Won “The Great British Bake Off”

Matty Edgell | 46 Minutes | May 7, 2024

In today’s episode, we speak with our guest Matty Edgell, the 28-year-old winner of the latest season of The Great British Bake Off on Netflix.

Matty’s journey to triumph was nothing short of extraordinary. Hailed as the “underdog” and “wild card” of the 14th series, he captivated audiences with his humble demeanor and remarkable baking skills he learned from his Nana at a very young age. Matty shares how he’s continuing to share his passion for baking on social media and why sports and teaching will always remain a priority in his life.

Listen as Matty talks about how he leveraged his sports mindset on television, his proudest Bake Off moment, and the cake he’s baking for his wedding.

Watch the podcast episode:

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Notes & Transcript


Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone, my name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. Today, I’m speaking with Matty Edgell, the 28-year-old winner of the latest season of “The Great British Bake Off” on Netflix.

Matty’s journey to triumph was nothing short of extraordinary. Hailed as the underdog and wild card of the fourteenth series, he captivated audiences with his humble demeanor and remarkable baking skills, ultimately stealing the spotlight with his well-deserved victory.

But Matty’s love for baking extends far beyond the competition stage. It’s been a lifelong passion that started in his kitchen. From a young age, he’s been an enthusiastic home baker, balancing his love for pastry with his other passion, and that would be sports.

During his university days at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, Matty pursued his interest in sports, studying sports coaching and physical education. Despite his academic pursuits, his love for baking remained unwavering.

Today, Matty channels his passion into his role as a PE and science teacher in Peterborough, all the while still enjoying a game of football for fun with the Stanground Sports team.

When he’s not on the football field, you’ll find Matty whipping up mouthwatering creations for his lucky friends and family, documenting his baking adventures on social media for all to enjoy.

So get ready to indulge your senses as we uncover the sweet secrets behind GBB, explore the reality of competing on TV’s most beloved baking show, and so much more.

And there he is! Good morning – or good evening! How are you, Matty?

Matty Edgell: I’m good, thank you. How are you?

Kirk Bachmann: I’m good. I’m good. Set the stage a little bit. What time in the evening is it for you over there?

Matty Edgell: Half past five, I think.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, it’s not so bad.

Matty Edgell: That’s all right. It’s still light as well.

Some Small Talk

Kirk Bachmann: It’s still light. That’s perfect. We were joking earlier. I’ll apologize in advance. My wife seems to think that whenever I have a conversation with someone who has any kind of accent, whether it’s British or French, I start to talk in that same accent. So if I call you Matty at any point today, just ignore me. Ignore me. Oh my.

We are so absolutely appreciative of your time. It’s been a whirlwind for you. It’s lovely to speak with you. Before we kick off, I have to ask: what’s for dinner today? It’s a cliché, but I think everyone wants to know what’s for dessert tonight?

Matty Edgell: Dessert. I think I’m just going to have a yogurt. That’s really boring, isn’t it?

Kirk Bachmann: Really?! That’s it?!

Matty Edgell: Yeah.

Kirk Bachmann: God, lie to me!

Well, we’re going to spend all kinds of time. Set the stage a little bit. Are you off to – or did you today – play on the pitch, as they say? Are you playing soccer or football every single day? How much time do you spend in the kitchen?

Matty Edgell: I’ve been teaching today. I literally just got back from work. We had rugby practice after school, so I’ve just got back from doing that. That’s the closest to a football pitch I’ve got today is the rugby one.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my goodness. What time does school start in the morning? I’m just curious.

Matty Edgell: Twenty five past eight. Then they go until ten past three.

Kirk Bachmann: Okay. Your students – are they high school, are they middle school, elementary?

Matty Edgell: I never really know where they fit into the American school system, but they’re eleven to eighteen from my school.

Kirk Bachmann: Okay. You’ve got elementary, which trickles into middle school, and high school. You’ve got a wide range there. Wow.

Matty Edgell: Yeah. I guess so.

Kirk Bachmann: You’re teaching PE as well as a science course?

Matty Edgell: I used to teach science as well. This year my time table is just PE. I’m just on PE, which is cool.

Baking Like Nan

Kirk Bachmann: That sounds like a great day. I love it. I love it.

We’re going to spend a lot of time diving into the “British Bake Off.” This is really about you. We’ll go all the way back to little Matty in the kitchen, if we could. I read online that you’ve always been viewed as “the family’s designated baker, with a running list of cake requests for celebrations that were in the future,” which is just absolutely amazing. Can you talk to us a little bit about – when did Matty start using that Kitchen-Aid and what inspired you to bake? We have a lot of students that will listen to the show. I’m just really curious about your inspiration.

Matty Edgell: My inspiration. You know, it kind of just happens, and then you get asked, “where did it start.” You can’t really put your finger on it.

I think I have to go to my Nan on where it all started. A lot of the stories I know about my Nan, from my living memory. She passed away when I was five. There are pictures I associate a memory to, and that memory isn’t legit. A memory that you kind of made up almost, in the best way possible.

I have to associate my love for baking and where it all began with her. She used to make people’s wedding cakes, only ever as a hobby, never as a baker as such. I know and I’ve heard stories. My dad talked about different stories about the type of cakes that she made back when she was doing it. Pictures weren’t all that easy to come by. What I imagine my Nan to make or a memory, or something like I made up in my head.

There were a couple of pictures that I have, one of which is – the teddy bear cake stands out. The picture is of my Nan next to me and me so joyful with this teddy bear cake. I don’t know what age it would have been. I think probably three or four. When I think of my Nan, I think of that cake, I guess. Although she never really saw me in the kitchen, certainly never making much – probably the old fairy cakes that you used to make when you were younger – but she’s who I attribute my passion for baking, and probably food as well. It all stems from her, I’d say.

Kirk Bachmann: No, I love that. I love that. Many memories around food are associated with special people in your lives. I’m curious: do you recall the teddy bear – was that for you? Was that a birthday teddy bear cake, or for someone else?

Matty Edgell: It was a birthday cake for me. Yeah. It was a cartoon-looking teddy, chocolate. Everything that you want when you’re three or four years old in a cake.

Baking Style

Kirk Bachmann: I love it. I grew up in a similar way with my father. He came over from Germany in the ‘60s. We had a bakery in Chicago. I don’t even remember what the holidays were, but I just remember, in those days, cakes were fantastic. I can remember spaceship cakes, football cakes, baseball cakes. Things that just stood out in my memory.

I’m curious, from your perspective, back then, cakes were very elaborate. They spent a lot of time. I remember all the bakers would be over at my home on Mondays when the bakery was closed. They would go in the basement with my father and spend hours – who knows all that they were doing down there – but most of the time they were making marzipan roses for the following week. These cakes, these wedding cakes, these celebration cakes, they were all adorned with lots of whipped cream and roses that were made in the basement the week before.

Today, in our kitchens, we do a lot of small cakes, celebration cakes. I see a lot of fresh flowers. Simple designs. Nothing really ornate. What is your perspective on that, particularly competing? What would you consider to be contemporary in the world of cake-making today?

Matty Edgell: Is that in terms of my personal preference?

Kirk Bachmann: Well, your preference and what you believe is popular today.

Matty Edgell: Going from things like what I saw in the telly and what I see in what I watch. I watch a lot of patisserie videos, people who really know what they’re doing – not me! – people that really know what they’re doing. A lot of it is quite clean-cut, isn’t it? There is a lot less. There is still the intricacy, and there is still the precision, but it’s almost a “less is more” approach. They allow those few things that they do in there that are one hundred percent at it.

I wouldn’t say that it looks any better or any worse than the cakes that you alluded to, the styles back then. I guess it’s probably just more of a modern interpretation of that thing. It’s probably evolved. The skill is still the same; they’re just emphasizing a different way.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s great perspective. Simplicity is the key word there. We see a lot of that. People looking for something approachable, super, super simple. Not too complicated. But you’re right; the skill is still sophisticated.

How would you describe your baking style, specifically, and has it changed over time? You’re still incredibly young. I’m curious how it’s changed through competition and such.

Matty Edgell: When I look back at the cakes, it’s by no way – I’d love for it to be better. I think the only way you can get better is to do it more. It gets better each time I do it. It’s still relatively rustic, but I think that’s because I know where my strengths are, and I know where my weaknesses are. You didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to get it wrong too many times, so I had to play to my strengths with displays, keeping it quite rustic, quite simple. The intricacy, plus the time pressure. I would steer clear from the decoration that may make it look quite intricate and lots of detail.

When I look back at pictures of cakes I made, even just two or three years ago, the difference to what I’m producing now. That’s not because I am better because I’ve practiced more, but I’m more aware of simple techniques. Make sure that the cake, when you’re coating it, is really cold. Then pop it back in the freezer and go again with a small [area]. Don’t try to do it all at once, which is what I was trying to do.

Also, the tools that I have now. I’ve got free “Bake Off” tools. I’ve acquired so many different things. I think, “I’m never going to use this again,” and then out it comes. I have improved an awful lot.

Kirk Bachmann: I love that. I imagine a lot of your popularity is around your genuine approach. Your honesty. Related to that, it seems like you’ve always viewed baking as a hobby, as a passion. You’re still fully-employed as a physical instruction teacher – that’s your primary career. Did you ever, or do you ever, consider baking as a professional career for yourself? Even when you were younger, did you think, “I could do this?”

Matty Edgell: I’ve always had a love for food and a love for cooking. I love to eat, so by that kind interest of eating different things, and lovely food, you kind of have the interest of how to make it as well. Like in hindsight, in England, we pick what we call our options, the exam subjects you’re going to do. I think I chose them when I was eleven or twelve. I was contemplating doing the food option that we have because I wanted to be a chef. Then I never went with it. I decided to go down the sport route.

At that point, I thought, “No, I’ll never be anything baker- or chef-wise. There’s no history of that as an actual occupation in the family.” Obviously, Nan did it a little bit. Nothing properly. I never really anticipated it.

I would never have put myself on “Bake Off.” This is all a world of unknown in life. It’s just bizarre. It’s so bizarre.

Path to PE

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, I love it.

Talk us through that decision to pursue your love of sports, particularly football, and then to eventually give back by becoming a teacher. How did that all come about?

Matty Edgell: I’m not academic. I never have been and never will be naturally academic. It never came easy to me. I’ve always been quite a kinesthetic learner as well, which is probably where the interest from baking came along. You can talk to someone about how to bake until they’re blue in the face, but they ultimately, they’ll have to give it a go and actually do it, which is probably where found it. Through that process of trial and area and that natural desire to know why it didn’t necessarily go right even though you follow the recipe. It’s kind of similar to sport in that way. You get better by doing it.

I think because I’m not naturally academic, which is [funny] in a way, because I’m a teacher. Not naturally academic, but I saw the fun that my PE teachers were having. I guess I was inspired by that. “This looks like fun. I’ll give that a go as a profession.” That’s how I ended up wanting to be a teacher. It didn’t quite materialize as it could have done.

I finished uni and for whatever reason didn’t get on to doing the next stage, which is doing what they call a PGCE, which is where you train to be a teacher. That didn’t quite happen straight out of uni, so I ended up working in an office for two years. A weird job setting. I sold drains for a year. Pop quizzes on Matt. There are rhymes and stuff about that.

I ended up selling aerospace metal and I thought, “I can’t do this.” It just wasn’t for me. Then I ended up giving teaching a go. I thought, “It’s now or never.” I was at the position [where] I was still living at home. Financially, my parents allowed me to be able to afford it. They said, “You don’t have to worry about rent.” It was free. That year, I didn’t get paid. I was just back to being back to being a student, and it was the best thing that I’ve ever done.

Actively pursing it and become a teacher, that’s what I wanted to do, wanted to be. Luckily, I had the support around me to enable that, to become what it is now.

Then all of a sudden “Bake Off” arrived, and then a curve ball to life, but a good one.

What I Overheard

Kirk Bachmann: It’s a wonderful story. I’m curious, you mentioned being a kinesthetic learner. The majority of our students are the exact same. They want to learn by someone showing them how to do it, and then they have the opportunity to replicate that.

Did you friends in college, or even before that, know that you were an avid baker? Did you keep this a secret?

Matty Edgell: Yeah, one hundred percent. Definitely. The first inkling that any of my friends got that I was into baking was we had an engagement party. This would have been the summer of 2021. We had an engagement party, and I made a cake. I made some cookies and some brownies, and someone asked where we bought the cake. It wasn’t said to me. I overheard it. It was asked to Lara, who is my fiancee. Someone asked her, and I heard that question. It was like a penny dropped, “Maybe I’m not that bad.”

You’ve got nothing to compare it against, have you? You just see how you get better. Everyone tells you it’s nice, but you just made them a cake. They’re not going to tell you it’s horrible, will they? You do it anyway because it’s close family I’m giving it to.

That was their first inkling. Then nothing more. There was no other situation where they tried. Then all of a sudden, I’m announced as being on “Bake Off.”

How Sports Have Helped

Kirk Bachmann: It’s almost better. Very serendipitous. “Cat’s out of the bag, oh my gosh,” and then the next thing, you’re on the “Bake Off.”

I’m curious – I’m obsessed with sports as well, all my kids, whether it’s gymnastics or baseball or American football, all of that. With your regimen, your discipline, your commitment to sports and competing more than anything, did that help you on the stage when you competed in “GBB?”

Matty Edgell: Definitely. One hundred percent. I didn’t realize quite how impactful playing sport my whole life, being in competitive situations, winning and losing, things aren’t going your way even though you’ve prepared for it to go a certain way. I didn’t realize how impactful that is in helping you in life. I was in this situation where all of a sudden someone is going home.

There’s the risk that I’m going to be someone that goes home. That person doesn’t necessarily. No one wants to go home, but they’ve worked as hard as everyone else to get to that position, and to get to that week each week. It’s fine margins a lot of the time between at least two or three people because of how good everyone is in there. There’s not really much to separate unless someone has a really unfortunate week, which I don’t think happened, really, in my season.

Also, the criticism. Paul and Prue will be honest. If you don’t meet their standards, they’ll tell you in no uncertain words. But what you don’t necessarily see in the edit is that the judging goes on about ten minutes. Certainly the showstopper one, and you feel rushed. You feel so vulnerable. You’ve got walk-in to take a couple of steps back. Then you’re like, “Hit me with it. How bad is it this week?” They give you all of the criticism, but they are very constructive with it. We don’t necessarily see that when they trim it down into a sixty-minute show. They’ll tell you what wasn’t good, and then the next sentence, which is what I tried to hold onto – and I think that comes from a competitive background. You want to improve. You want to prove them wrong for the next time. You’re used to being told, as a sportsman or someone who plays sport, by your coach or by your manager how to improve. I was hanging onto that second sentence where they say, “This wasn’t this good. This could be improved, and this is how you can do it.”

Kirk Bachmann: As a sports person or a baker or a chef, sometimes you know going in, perhaps. They’re going to see that this wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Maybe they won’t notice, maybe they will, but you probably get to a point where you’re prepared for that. And again, to your point, I don’t think people ever really appreciate the fact that everything gets edited down. They don’t see the look on your face, or the feeling rushing through your body in case there is something that’s a little off-putting. How do you hide that? Or do you have to?

Matty Edgell: The worst. You know when you’re pretty happy with it, and you know when you’re not happy with it. Generally, if you’re not happy with it, they’re not going to be happy with it either. You’re your own worst critic. If you know it yourself that it went to plan, and you know it in yourself that it represents what you wanted it to represent on that bake.

The hard one – and it happened twice – it happened on both of them were technical, that middle one when you don’t know what you’re baking and you don’t know what you’ve got to do. You don’t really have much of a recipe to guide you through it either, so if you don’t know what the outcome is supposed to look like, you’re in a bit of trouble. You rightfully are. There were two bakes. The first one was on bread week. It was a Devonshire split. I’ve never heard of this thing. It was almost like – I’m going to say this wrong – is it a Maritozzi? It’s how do you bake bread. Its a bun –

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Very similar.

Matty Edgell: Similar to that. Do you know what happened? Too bad. Paul took one look at it – he hadn’t even tried it – That’s not how Prue would operate. What do I know?

Then the next one, we had to make a French pithivier. It was sliced potatoes. A Dauphinoise Pithivier. Never heard of one of them either. They are lovely. I looked it up, thought, “That there looks good.” From the outside, it looked really good. Then he cut it open, he was like, “Your potatoes are a little bit too al dente.” He didn’t call them that. He called them raw. Al dente sounds better, don’t it? See, they’re a bit raw. There’s not enough flake on the pastry. What do I know?

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my goodness. But it’s learning. You’re learning every step of the way.

I’d love to talk a little bit more about “GBB.” Before we do that, my son, who is as in love with sports as I am, he needs to know what your team is. Who’s your team?

Matty Edgell: A West Ham. West Ham fan.

Kirk Bachmann: Okay.

Matty Edgell: Has he heard of it? I should think he has.

What Have I Done?

Kirk Bachmann: I’m sure he has. We’re German. He’s a Bayern Munchen fan, big time, but he pays attention to all of it. What’s the Hulu series? Ted Lasso. He’s watched it twenty times. Absolutely. I’m a terrible parent because it’s not always appropriate, but that’s okay. He loves it.

Let’s dive into the “Great British Bake Off.” Who applied for you? It doesn’t seem like you did that on your own.

Matty Edgell: No. My fiancee, Lara applied for me.

Kirk Bachmann: She did. Okay.

Matty Edgell: I didn’t know what was happening until it was happening. I knew the application was going in before it was sent. It was getting sent regardless. She originally wanted to apply for the year before, last year’s series.

Kirk Bachmann: And you were aware? You knew that she was up to this? Oh you weren’t?

Matty Edgell: I had no idea. The only thing we talked about was part of your application. You can say that you bake anything, you can do anything, can’t you? Part of your application is to evidence it with pictures of you baking. I don’t take pictures of myself. No one knew that I baked. Eventually, the reason that I caught her is she was getting less and less discreet with taking pictures while I’m baking, to the point where he was starting to get me to pose with things. “What is this about? Where are you going with these pictures?” I’d never see them again.

Then she fessed.

I said, “No, you’re absolutely not doing that.”

She said, “I absolutely am. What have you got to lose?” And I couldn’t give an answer.

Genuinely, in my mind, every stage of the application process, if I said, “I’m not doing it,” and Lara said, “Yes, you are. What have you got to lose?” I still couldn’t think of a reason.

I thought, “I’m not going to get through anyway.” So I went with it. And then I got through. And then I got through. And then I got on. And then I’m like, “God! What have I done?”

Kirk Bachmann: What’s that feeling like, that reality like, “Wow!” Do you get to a place where – like you said, “I’m not going to get on. It’s not going to happen.” But then it does. Your confidence starts to build. Maybe your anxiety starts to rise. You had to leave school for a while, right? Did you keep it a secret from the students as well?

Matty Edgell: Yeah. Every stages comes with an NDA. Even if you wanted to tell people, you’re not allowed to. There were people that knew. My head of department, so my boss knew. He knew because throughout the whole ten weeks of filming, I needed a total of four days off. It didn’t quite correlate with the weekends on four occasions. The first one was the Week One. You go up the Thursday night. We filmed Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That was a one-off just for the first week so we could get some of the press bits done. There were two other weekends where it didn’t quite match Saturday – Sunday. Because of that, my boss knew because he needed to sign it off. Also, he was a reference. You need references as well. He was a reference.

Then my head teacher, he knew as well. He didn’t know what stage I’d got to.

Kirk Bachmann: Okay. Okay.

Matty Edgell: Because I stopped needing time off from work, he wasn’t able to guess past probably week four, week three, when it stopped being in the week or on the weekday.

Kirk Bachmann: So there’s this feeling at first like, “What have I got to lose? I’m going to go along with this. It’s funny.” Then you get through. Then the reality sets in. Is it like, “I got this!” or “I’m even more nervous,” or “What have I done?”

Matty Edgell: What’ve I done is more, “What was I thinking?”

Kirk Bachmann: Because no one can prep you for the cameras. I imagine there’s some staging; there’s some drama that they’re looking for in all of that. Are you able to – and if you can’t, I understand – can you discuss some of the challenges, even personal challenges, that you had that were unexpected as it all began to unfold?

Matty Edgell: The hardest part is the fact that you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. They prep you by saying that the days are long. When you’re filming, the days are long. You have to go up the night before in respect to the day that was being filmed. Generally I was up on Friday night. I’d leave work, I’d come home, I’d pick up the bag that I’d packed for the first day, and then I’d drive straight there. It’s about two and a half hours. We filmed two and a half hours away from where I live. I’d be up Friday night.

Friday night was always nice. Everyone’s full of nerves, but no one’s done well. More importantly, no one’s done bad yet because we haven’t had the chance to. We’re all full of nervous energy. The weekend hasn’t knocked anyone down yet, so we’re all in good spirits. Although we might not have the best practice or whatever, generally people were happy to see each other, so it was nice.

Then you’re in the tent at seven in the morning. We’re filming not from seven. Actually, no, the time. I didn’t have a watch, and there are no clocks anywhere, and they take your phone as soon as you get in. The first thing you do is give your phone in, so you can’t contact anyone or check time. We were in the tent at seven. We get picked up at a quarter to seven in the morning, and we’re probably put back into the hotel at about half six, quarter to seven. They told us that that was the case, but I didn’t believe them. I don’t know why.

I thought, “No way can in take [that long.] I’ve seen the show. It’s an hour long. There’s no way it can take twenty four hours. You have to film it in two days.” I was wrong.

The world of unknown was the worst part. Obviously, even after the filming, you still really don’t know what’s going to happen because you’ve not seen the edit until anyone else [sees it.] You see it at the same time. Then it’s the nerves of, “What are people going to think of me? What mistakes or stupid faces am I going to make and pull?” That part, that is the hardest bit.

A Competitive Spirit

Kirk Bachmann: It’s clear that you exude this playful thirst for knowledge. You’re a teacher. You have a desire to learn more. Were you able to use some of the constructive criticism that you may have received from time to time to your advantage? Mental, what kept you in the game? Your sports background?

Matty Edgell: Definitely. Being competitive. It’s the strangest competition I’ve ever been in and I can’t imagine I’ll ever be in a competition quite like it again. Generally, you know that someone’s got to lose – and when I say lose, I mean someone’s got to go home each week – and someone’s going to win, you don’t want anyone to go home because they’ve had a bad week. I’ve said this time and time again in the interviews each week, really, you just hope that the person who does go home goes home because they’ve had a good week, and everyone else has had a really good week.

Whereas, in a football match, you want their best player to get injured, don’t you? Nothing serious, but where they can’t play a little. A little hamstring tweak or something like that. Or they’ve got to come off. Get rid of their best player. You don’t want that to happen in this competition. It’s so surreal, but definitely being competitive.

I think that’s why I needed so much talking into going into the first week. Even after being told I was on, there’s a month between when you’re doing all the prep for your recipes, week one to nine. That week before it was like a roller coaster; one minute I was really excited, and the next I was like the thought of doing it just didn’t sit right. So Lara was talking me down all the time.

“You’ve got to give it a go.”

Where I was most nervous was I knew that as soon as I turn up for week one, I’m in it for the long haul, irrespective of what came my way. My competitiveness would take over.

Kirk Bachmann: Was there a point that you recall where it all changed for you? “Oh my goodness! I could very well win this!”

Matty Edgell: Week seven, if I remember rightly. Weeks five, six, and seven were really tough. They were really tough because, mentally, I was so far from the star, but I also knew that I didn’t want to go home. I’m now in it. I’m in this competition. I’m not going to quit. I was so far from the start, but I was also so far from what I wanted the end to be. They were really tough.

But I remember week seven was the showstopper work. It was also the week – I remember – we had to make dessert, a meringue bombe. I’ve never heard of one of these. I’ve got it to work one time, all of the practice. With the meringues, you could quickly whip them up. They took two hours to bake, which is where the challenge was at. You only had four hours. If you don’t get it right first time – and you can only do two of them in the oven – there’s no back up. It either works, or it don’t. If it doesn’t work, you’ve got two hours to get over the fact that there’s no way. It worked once for me. That was the Sunday of the showstopper being filmed.

After that, I took a big sigh of relief. The next week was Party Week, and I got a handshake and one Star Baker. At that point, I thought, “I’ve got enough wind in my sails to get to the final here if I can do well next week.” Which is only one week off.

Week seven was probably the point where I thought, “Okay, I’m going to hit it hard now. I’m really going to go for it. I’m nearly there.”

Kirk Bachmann: That’s such a great story.

It’s just natural for us to talk about some of the obstacles. Everything comes together with the magic of television, but people can’t appreciate how absolutely trying this is on the soul and the mind, the family, the feet, all of that. I think you may have just mentioned it, but was there a moment that stands out as perhaps your proudest moment? Was it with the meringue or was it the ultimate victory?

Matty Edgell: I think in terms of proudest moment, I won’t go with the easy option and say winning. I’ve never even considered the meringue bombe to be a proud moment. It shows how, although I’m competitive, I’m also quite harsh on myself because I never really saw that as a proud moment. I guess I should have been more proud in the moment to have got it out when it mattered most. But then I went onto the fact that I hadn’t thought past that initial getting it out because how I then presented it. It was just kind of thrown in there, which went against me.

I think probably the sausage roll with the handshake from Paul. You watch it. I’ve always been a fan of “Bake Off,” and this handshake becomes a thing of complete validation. Not until you’re in the tent and someone receives one do you realize how big of a thing it is because the crew. In my opinion, those guys make the show what it is, how relaxed they make you feel. I can’t speak highly enough for everyone that is involved in that side of it. They’re there. Pretty much all of them are there year-over-year. They’re all clapping. “Wow! This is a thing, a real big thing.” Then you receive one, and it is just complete validation of whatever you just made being absolutely spot on through this handshake. All of a sudden, it’s really sought after. Excluding the win, that’s probably the proudest moment for me.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s so poignant. As you were speaking, Matty, I was thinking: we’ve spent a lot of time on Matty today, but you went through the journey with many others. I imagine everyone had a different experience. I’ve watched a lot of replays on YouTube and such. I imagine you get close. You start to care about these people. You develop relationships. Are you still close today with any of them? All of them?

Matty Edgell: We still speak from time to time. I think the unfortunate thing is life takes over, and we’re all dotted around the country. Trying to get twelve people together at one time is quite challenging, but there’s a WhatsApp group. We still do speak from time to time.

I think everyone was in this wave together. There are going to be those friendships where you don’t need to speak all the time, but when you do it will be like you’ve been speaking forever. When you do meet up with each other, it will be like you only saw each other yesterday sort of thing. It’s that kind of low maintenance but really special friendship that I think all of us have and are bonded by through this experience.

That also comes in as a result of how everyone dealt with the competition. When you were on a high, you recognize that, and someone is probably on a low. You’re pulling them up. The next week, the tables are turned, and they’re on the high and you’re on the low. They’re pulling you up. That’s probably where the bonds of friendships are formed.

The Final

Kirk Bachmann: That’s absolutely lovely. Well said.

For those who maybe didn’t catch the series or the finals, can you talk a little bit about that final competition? What was the challenge?

Matty Edgell: The final was quite a good one, actually. It played to my strengths: one with it being cake, and two with it being the brief. So you get a recipe brief for the final. We got it midway through the week of the semifinals. Probably about Wednesday of the semifinal, we got this brief. Maybe a little bit earlier. But I’m looking at that. I’ve to get that.

We’re already looking at it, which makes the week, the final, an interesting one because I try to think of an idea, develop an idea, and make it all at the same time.

Kirk Bachmann: Getting ahead of yourself.

Matty Edgell: It was a three-tiered cake inspired by the first thing that you’d ever made. Luckily straight away, I had an idea. I had a concept, whereas previous weeks – and you can probably tell the weeks when I wasn’t really sure what I needed to produce. It was probably quite reflective of what I ended up producing. With this one, I knew straight away what I was going to do, what I was going to go for.

Kirk Bachmann: When you were presented with that iconic glass plate, was it Lara? Was it your students? What did you think about? What rushed through? I imagine a proud moment. Did you think about Nan? Did you think about Nan? I mean, I can’t even imagine.

Matty Edgell: You know what, it’s such a blow! I don’t even know! I remember I was sifting through the crowd, and I was trying to find Lara, and I was trying to find my family to take it in with them. I knew it probably sounds cliche, and I’m not saying this because it’s the sort of thing that people say in this kind of instance, but genuinely, I think every single person who has ever been on “Bake Off” will vouch for this: no matter where you get to, you wouldn’t be able to get there without the support network that you have at home. You can become quite self-absorbed to be on this. For ten weeks, I didn’t make dinner. For ten weeks, Lara made [them]. I always made my lunches on the Sunday night. For ten weeks, that wasn’t possible. I’d come home from “Bake Off,” and Lara had made them. Everyone else picked up my slack massively, most of all Lara. I’ve done the baking; they’ve done everything to facilitate me getting the practice in. That close bond that I have with my family and Lara, that enabled me to get the win, which was why I wanted to find them pretty snappish.

Baking in the Moment

Kirk Bachmann: It’s so appropriate and almost expected that you’re so genuine about your appreciation of those around you and sharing the victory with so many. It’s such a great message to young chefs who are going to go on to the industry and have to build a team. It’s so important that there are phenomenal people all around you.

Can we talk a little bit about your next project? I heard a rumor – maybe it’s not a rumor – that you’re going to bake your own wedding cake and turn that into something very fun. Can you talk a little bit about that? Congratulations, first of all, on the nuptials.

Matty Edgell: I was going to make it long before the “Bake Off” thing was even a reality. We got engaged back in 2021. We started doing what you do, going to different wedding fairs. You see you’ve got no idea how much things cost. We spoke to a couple of cake people, and their initial quotes were like five hundred pounds. I whispered in Lara’s ear, “I can do it cheaper than that.” It might not taste as nice, it might not look as good, but I can do it cheaper than that.

Then I had a bit of a ten-week intense course on how to make things look and taste a bit nicer. Now the moment is nearly here. It a couple of weeks around Easter holidays – I don’t know if you get them in America, but we have two weeks off.

Kirk Bachmann: We don’t have two weeks, but we have a bit off.

Matty Edgell: I’ve got a bit of time. I’m going to practice. On Sunday, I’m going to knock out the top tier because I’ve only recently decided what it’s going to be. That’s entirely inspired by – do you know “Masterchef?”

Kirk Bachmann: Yes, of course.

Matty Edgell: I went to the winner’s restaurant. He works in a restaurant called Camellia in a hotel, to have lunch. One of the desserts that we had was this olive oil cake. I took the concept because it was lovely. I’ve never had one before. The six-inch cake, the top tier, is going to be I’ve run some ground pistachio and some chopped pistachio, so it’s got a little bit of texture. And a little bit of lemon zest. We’re going to change it to a little bit of orange zest, and then a little bit of pistachio whipped ganache as the filling. So that as the top tier.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my goodness. I did get a little a chill, by the way. That sounds lovely. That sounds amazing. So this is just a few weeks away then?

Matty Edgell: May the 30th, so it’s a few more than a few, but it ain’t far off.

Kirk Bachmann: My goodness. Congratulations. It’s amazing. Obviously your commitment is to your students and the work that you do every day. I imagine there are a lot of opportunities coming your way after the show. Obviously, getting married is the priority and the focus. Is there anything beyond teaching that you think about where it could just really blow up in terms of the baking side of things?

Matty Edgell: There is. I think more and more it’s kind of an ever-growing thing in my mind. I guess that’s as a result of the opportunities that have been presented to me. It’s really difficult to not. Obviously, I’m fortunate in the sense that I enjoy my job. I also enjoy this as well. People keep saying it to me, to be fair. Teaching’s always going to be there. They’re never not going to need teachers. Tomorrow you’ll be back at the school in a moment. But that is part of the game, isn’t it?

I’ve got one go at this. If the timing is correct, next season’s bakers have just been told that they’re next season’s bakers. There are already people that are going to be next year, that are going to be me. I’ve got one go at it. I know if I will forever kick myself if I don’t give it a go. Hopefully in the near future, we can really go at it.

Kirk Bachmann: I love it. I love it.

How can our listeners keep up with you? I follow you on Instagram.

Matty Edgell: You do?

Kirk Bachmann: Oh, it’s fun! It’s fun. You make it easy to watch. Do you want to give your Instagram handle? Is that okay?

Matty Edgell: Yeah, of course. It’s @mattyedgell. So it’s Matty with two T’s and a Y, and then Edgell: E-D-G-E-double L. Yeah, that would be cool.

Persistence and Resilience

Kirk Bachmann: Perfect. When this goes live, we’ll put all of those links and push that out. Tons and tons of students.

Speaking of students, any brief words of advice for those who are inspired by you? You mentioned Master Chef. There are all kinds of inspirational opportunities to watch young people – and people in general – compete at this level. Young people have dreams. Any advice for anyone who might want to follow a similar path?

Matty Edgell: I think resilience and persistence. I’ll even give you an example. I already spoke about the meringue bomb not working until the day of the showstopper. The final signature, the first bake that you make for the weekend, was sheer pastry. It was an eclair. I couldn’t get it to rise. I turns out – you’re going to have to tell me if I’m correct here. I’ve got these silicone mats, and they’ve got the eclair mark lined out on it, but they’re not perforated metal. I would let them rise. I would take them out, and take them off, and then they’d sink.

Usually, I would practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and I would have Friday off because I then bake Saturday, Sunday. I decided before I went up, “I’m just going to whip up another batch.” Through laziness, I couldn’t bother to go and get another silicone mat out of the cupboard. I just put it on some grease-proof paper on a metal tray. And they rose and they stayed. I always think about that in terms of the resilience. Had I not had just one more go – “I’ll give it one more go,” and that one more go proved to be decisive. Because otherwise I was going to turn up for the final bake, sheer pastry that I knew was going to be flat. Although perfectly sized, it was going to be flat one-hundred percent because it had been the whole way. A little bit of resilience not to throw in the towel, and some persistence.

Then, sift through the criticism to try to find the constructive part. It might not always be delivered in a constructive way. Also, find out who you can listen to and who you should listen to. Find out who you can maybe disregard a little bit.

Matty Edgell’s Ultimate Dishes

Kirk Bachmann: Well said. Persistence and resilience. Great advice.

Matty, this has been absolutely so much fun. The name of the show is The Ultimate Dish. We’re so honored and proud to have you, but before I let you go, I have to ask: in your mind, what is the ultimate dish?

Matty Edgell: It’s always something Italian with me. I don’t know where to go. I’ve got three in my head.

Kirk Bachmann: I’ll take all of them.

Matty Edgell: I never buy Italian food. It’s just really great ingredients, but there are only ever a few of them, isn’t there? And they just let them do the work.

When I went to Italy when I was young, probably about fourteen, fifteen, I had this lasagna. It was just a vegetarian lasagna. For me, back then, I used to eat meat all the time growing up. We have this thing – in America, we have meat and two veggies, do you have that in America?

Kirk Bachmann: It’s more profound now than ever before. Oh yeah.

Matty Edgell: That was all my parents grew up with. Almost like what I grew up with. Everything had meat on it. I went to this hotel, and I had this lasagna, and it was spinach lasagna sheets and a bechamel sauce. It was the best thing that I’ve ever had. It was unbelievable! I was eating it for days. I didn’t even realize that there was no meat in there, which was quite abnormal for me to not be eating a main dish that’s not go meat in it. I don’t know why, but it’s just stuck with me forever. There’s that one.

And I also just do a pizza.

Kirk Bachmann: Lasagna is so simple.

Matty Edgell: It is.

Kirk Bachmann: Like a peasant meal almost.

So when you say pizza, are you talking New York-style pizza, or a pie that you get in Italy that’s not sliced?

Matty Edgell: Yeah, like a Neapolitan pizza. My favorite topping of the moment is andouille. Have you had it?

Kirk Bachmann: Yeah, of course.

Matty Edgell: It’s quite fiery. I knew it was a long wait, but I love it when it’s with some good quality mozzarella as well.

Kirk Bachmann: Beautiful. So that’s two. What’s number three?

Matty Edgell: The third one is just simple roasted tomatoes with some tagliatelle and prawns.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my gosh. We’ve had over a hundred guests on this show. I haven’t had a podium like this before, and I love it.

Matty Edgell: I’m very indecisive as a person.

Kirk Bachmann: But I get the three. But simple! Consistent with what you said earlier. Absolutely.

Wow. How much fun was this. Thank you for spending some time with us. I wish you – we wish you, at Escoffier, so much luck in the future. We’ll keep watching. This show will air in a few weeks, and it will go to thousands of students around the country.

Matty Edgell: Perfect. Thank you. Totally.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. Absolutely.

And thank you for listening to the Ultimate Dish podcast, brought to you by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Visit escoffier.edu/podcast, where you’ll find any materials mentioned during the podcast, including notes, links and other resources. And if you can, please leave us a rating on Apple or Spotify, and subscribe to support our show. This helps us to reach more aspiring individuals ready to take the next step toward their dream careers. Thanks for listening.

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