After a tumultuous season of The Great British Baking Show, including s’mores and tacos that nearly got the beloved series canceled by fans, we’ve reached the finale. Three stellar bakers (Sandro, Syabira, and Abdul) made it to the end, triumphing over tough competition to make it to one of the most intense final rounds of all time.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead for the finale of The Great British Show Collection 10, including this season’s winner!)
From the very start—really, read my recap of Episode 1—I’ve been pulling for Syabira (along with the rest of the GBBS fanbase, who has lovingly shared memes of her tired thumbs up). Thank goodness The Great British Baking Show finally did something right this season: Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith chose Syabira as the winner of this season, a well-deserved title after the contestant won three Star Baker awards in a row.
But the win comes after a long season of the judges dragging Syabira for her “unusual” flavors. The Malaysian baker made satay macarons (yum), pizza with prawns (I’ll take 12 slices), corn conchas (delicious), and watermelon pudding (perfect for a summer day). Still, with each new bake, the judges found a way to demean Syabira’s vibrant flavor palette. Sorry, we don’t need another British baker using the same old creme pat and strawberry compote on every bake!
Early on in the competition, Syabira faced hell for creating one of the most ingenious bakes I’ve ever seen on GBBS. In a technical challenge, instructions guided the bakers to “feather” white chocolate onto their pastries. Syabira, whose first language isn’t English, misunderstood and created a whole batch of perfect feathers made out of white chocolate. They were groundbreaking. And yet, Paul and Prue scolded her for the blunder, even though she had created a masterpiece.
Each year, The Great British Baking Show gets trickier and trickier as the challenges become more convoluted and difficult, and the bakers up their game. This year’s finale proved how much the competition show has grown and become more complicated since fruition, with challenges that nearly lit the whole tent on fire as the bakers dashing around in mad fury. So, if GBBS continues to evolve its challenges, shouldn’t its judges, too, progress their palettes? Why are Paul and Prue so fixated on the flavors of basic British baking?
Syabira recognizes this pattern, too. Obviously, she can’t speak up for herself too much—she really wants to win, and who knows if any backtalk against Prue and Paul would lead to any punishment on the show.
“They’re always saying my flavors are unusual,” Syabira says in the finale. “I’ve heard that every week. Which is fine. I think they mean it in a very good way.”
I hope they mean it in a very good way! But hearing the word “unusual” every time you bake a dish you’re proud of can’t feel good, and poor Syabira faces this word—as she says—in nearly every single competition. These flavors aren’t actually unusual, they’re normal and lovely, though Paul and Prue may not have been exposed to them in a white, British bubble.
“If it were week one or two, I wouldn’t believe that these flavors could work,” Prue says as Syabira puts the finishing touches on her final bake. “But I’ve learned to trust Syabira.”
Have you? If you’ve really learned to trust Syabira, you wouldn’t be vulturing over her station, raising your eyebrows about different spices and flavors she’s planning for her bake. In fact, you wouldn’t comment about believing whether the flavors would work or not—you’d just say you were excited to try the bake. Even as Syabira celebrates her big win, Paul Hollywood makes one final comment about the flavors.
“Syabira can be a bit of a risk-taker with her flavors, and it’s worked,” Hollywood says. “Some of the flavors she did, I’ve never had in the tent before. And am unlikely to ever have again.”
But, hey, Syabira won The Great British Baking Show, and really, that says something. Hopefully, the show can quit making these othering comments to non-white bakers while also allowing them to succeed on the show.