The Big Family Cooking Showdown; Don’t call me Bake Off

Nadiya Hussain introduces the BBC’s big new cooking show tonight. Not surprisingly, all concerned are a bit sensitive about comparisons to previous series, writes Susan Griffin.

THE Big Family Cooking Showdown is being hailed as the new Great British Bake Off but Nadiya Hussain, who co-presents the series with Zoe Ball, is adamant it’s nothing of the sort.

“People think it’s a replacement, they’re saying it’s the new Bake Off but it’s not,” says Hussain, who won The Great British Bake Off in 2015.

“The new Bake Off [which begins on Channel 4 later this summer] is the new Bake Off. This is a cookery show. Having been through a food competition as an amateur cook
myself, I know exactly how tough it can get and so I’ll be there for them, alongside Zoe, as the pressure really builds.”

Ahead of its debut on BBC Two tonight, we take a closer look at the new show which is set to celebrate favourite family recipes.

WHAT’S THE FORMAT?

Over the 12-part series, 16 teams of cooks will be whittled down over eight heats, three semi-finals, and one grand final. In each episode, two families, represented by three family members, go head-to-head in three rounds.

Round one is the £10 challenge, where teams show what they can do to feed four within the budget in just over an hour.

Round two is the home visits challenge, where each team must cook a main course and a dessert in their own home for judges Rosemary Shrager and Giorgio Locatelli.

Round three is the “impress the neighbours” challenge where the families return to the studio for the deciding round, creating a starter and a main course in little over two hours.

WHO’S PRESENTING?

Zoe Ball swaps the glitter of Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two for
presenting duties in The Big Family Cooking Showdown studio. Ball, a mother of two, doesn’t describe herself as the world’s best cook but has enjoyed learning some handy new kitchen tips from the families.

“We get to go into family homes and see them cooking in their own home space,” says the 46-year-old. “It’s really quite wonderful seeing all these recipes that have gone back through the families, handed down and taught from generation to generation, adapted slightly as people are modernising them, and these are recipes that you’d never find in a cookbook.

“Also seeing people take a slightly different take on a recipe depending on where they come from — perhaps they’ve got an Italian father and an Irish mother — it’s fascinating!”

As mentioned, Ball is joined by Hussain, a mother of three, who’s now a published author and popular TV presenter following her Bake Off win.

“It’s not just about the food but it’s also about the dynamics of the family because we’ve got so many different types of families, the array of food is unreal,” explains the 32-year-old.

“And it’s not one person cooking, so it falls on everybody to have a role in the group and that’s really interesting to watch because it’s no different to most family homes when you’re all in the kitchen together.”

WHO’S JUDGING?

Chef Shrager, 66, who’s appeared on The Real Marigold Hotel, The Chopping Block, and Rosemary’s School For Cooks, as well as Ladette To Lady, is looking for a family with food at its heart that shares both the kitchen duties and recipes between the
generations.

She is joined by Michelin star chef Locatelli, who owns Locanda Locatelli, and has appeared in Sicily Unpacked and Italy Unpacked.

He’s particularly looking forward to experiencing the different families’ heritages through the dishes that they serve.

“I was born on the second floor of a restaurant, so all my life it has been about culinary tradition,” he notes.

WHO’S TAKING PART?

In total there are 16 families, two taking part per episode, and representing all corners of the country, including Buckinghamshire, Birmingham, and Liverpool.

DOES IT DESERVE THE BAKE OFF COMPARISONS?

In short, no it doesn’t. There might be two judges and two presenters, one of which won The Great British Bake Off, but that’s really where the similarities end. In The Big Family Cooking Showdown, there are teams of three, so unlike Bake Off it’s a group effort. The contestants are also asked to create entire meals not focus solely on cakes, buns, and breads. But with the new series of The Great British Bake Off set to begin in the coming weeks in its new home at Channel 4, it’ll be interesting to see how the two shows fare.

  • The Big Family Cooking Showdown begins tonight on BBC Two at 8pm


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