Several years ago, I stumbled upon The Great British Bake Off on YouTube and my life was forever changed. Who knew that it was okay to bake just because you loved it so much? Not for money, not for sport, but just because you love it.
I don’t remember exactly how or when that fateful introduction to the GBBO happened, but I do remember being immediately entranced. The show spoke to me…an ordinary, home baker who dreamed of using my talent for something great. I dug up every episode of the GBBO I could find and watched it over and over again. As more seasons aired I became more obsessed and found myself waiting up as late as necessary on GBBO nights for the newest episode to go up on YouTube. Eventually our local PBS station started airing the show and introduced the U.S. to what the British have known for years. Home baking is where it’s at!
The show is everything that every other reality show isn’t. There’s no staged drama, no backstabbing or sabotages. No alliances, plans or scheming. Just unadulterated love for baking.
One of the main draws of the Great British Bake Off is Mary Berry. The Queen of Baking, Mary Berry is the epitome of what every housewife hopes to be (or maybe just me). She shows that it’s possible to juggle family and career and to use your domestic talents outside of your home. But, you know what the greatest thing about Mary Berry is? She is proof that it’s cool to be a lady.
As a mom of 3 teenage girls I find that one of my biggest challenges is teaching them how to be a lady. I am a self-professed horrible dresser and semi-tomboy as I’m content to go make-up free in jeans, a t-shirt and a baseball cap (and often barefoot), and teaching my girls to be ladies is especially tough for me. So, I went looking for inspiration elsewhere, and found it in Mary Berry. Everything around us says that only the women with the least clothes and the loudest mouths succeed. Mary Berry is living evidence that the opposite is true. I often refer to her when my daughters have wardrobe dilemmas. My standard answer when they ask “How does this look?” is “Would Mary Berry wear it?” The question guarantees an eye roll, but they can’t argue.
I had the opportunity to meet Mary Berry earlier this year. It was the cherry on top of one of the coolest experiences of my life and something that I will never forget. I hate to be vague, but every now and then a memory is made that is simply too special to put into words and this is one of those times. I could write every detail of the events leading up to the meeting and how it came about, but I couldn’t do it justice. Another reason I’m not sharing details is because it would make the experience all about me. The fact is that there were a handful of other people there who shared it with me and who deserve to cherish their own memories. So, I’ll just file mine away and you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that Mary Berry is every bit as wonderful as I imagined her to be. She’s pretty much what I want to be when I grow up. And, she’s what I want my daughters to be when they grow up. Classy. Ladylike. Kind. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
NOTE: If you don’t know who Mary Berry is or what the Great British Bake Off is (or if you just love baking), you’re in luck! The U.S. now has its own version of the GBBO called The Great American Baking Show that is set to air on ABC starting Thursday, December 1. It will feature Mary Berry judging alongside Johnny Iuzzini as 10 super talented home bakers vie for the title of the best home baker in America.