Dalhousie Dentistry professor, Sachin Seth, is baking away the competition on season two of the Great Canadian Baking Show. The Nova Scotian baker started near the top of the group of 10 bakers during week one, and claimed the title of ‘Star Baker’ in week two.
Being on a baking show was a bucket list item of Seth’s for years. He grew up watching baking shows on TV; he began cooking in his teens, sneaking into his family kitchen before anyone was awake, to make a mess and see what he could come up with.
For Seth, baking isn’t a far reach from his dentistry background. He says it’s just another form of chemistry.
“Dentistry plays beautifully into baking, because dentistry is so scientific yet so artistic at the same time, and it truthfully is perfect like that,” he says. “Baking is very artistic as well, it’s my form of artistic expression.”
In the first week, Seth won the technical bake: he made an orange chiffon cake using an incomplete recipe provided to them. The judges selected his cake over the nine other competitors during a blind tasting.
“We are put to the test in that technical bake. We are given a recipe with various things missing, it could be some ingredient quantities or some instructions, and we have to use our sort of culinary expertise to navigate that,” he says.
A team behind him
Seth is competitive on the show, but in-person radiates friendliness. His mindset heading into the competition was similar to every person for themselves, but that changed as he bonded with the competitors. In the first episode, Seth finished a little early and helped a fellow contestant during the first bake to flip her upside-down cake onto a plate.
“The person I helped – I’m pretty sure it was Wendy – she’s from P.E.I., so she’s like our cousin, right?” he says. “She’s in our neighbourhood. She needed some help last minute, and I couldn’t not help her, I just had to. It wasn’t a big help at all; Wendy is great on her own, but it was just a little bit of side help there.”
Seth just missed coming out on top in both the Show Stopper and Signature bakes. A lot of his students came up to him after the show aired to tell him they thought he had been robbed of the win. His students also set up viewing parties for the first episode and have been very supportive.
“I have never felt so lucky and fortunate to be surrounding by so much wonderful people on a daily basis. They have been so awesome.”
According to Seth, he’s been stopped on University Avenue to be congratulated and wished good luck by students, faculty and other Haligonians. Seth says that he’s a little shy about it, but his wife gets really excited and happy when people stop him on the street.
“They’re so ecstatic and they are so supportive of me,” he says of his family. “They know it’s sort of one of those bucket list things I have to do in life, and everyone has been so happy with my participation.”
Crusade on sugar?
People have pointed out in coverage of the show and press releases that it’s ironic a dentist would do a baking competition, because of all the sugar involved.
Seth doesn’t see it that way.
“The funny thing obviously, is that I should be on the crusade against sugar but my personal belief in life is everything in moderation,” he says. “Definitely, eat sugar; eat it that’s fine, but it’s all about oral hygiene in the end. It’s not going to kill you to have some sugar, but it might not do so great to your teeth if you don’t floss and brush properly.”
Some other tips he suggested if you can’t brush your teeth right away included drinking lots of water daily to break down any extra sugar left behind, or to chew sugar free gum to get your saliva going to break it down.
He also says that it’s not all that ironic because dentistry and baking are closely related.
“I’ve always maintained dentistry is one of those professions that really is a great mix of art and science. We as dentists out there are very used to working with our hands and our fingers, and working in scientific environments. Baking to me is an extension of that.”
To bake or not to bake?
Seth has no plans currently to switch from the world of dentistry to the world of baking, but it will always be something he continues to do.
“If I were to open a bakery tomorrow, it would be fun for a bit, but it slowly would become work and I use baking as something I do to get away from work so I don’t want to ruin that right now.”
Some things he would consider doing in the baking industry are becoming a product ambassador or food judge. He says his experience judging students and his knowledge about baking would make him a very good judge.
As for how far Seth will make it this season?
“It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m just so grateful and happy that I was successful to be on the show and represent Nova Scotia, or Halifax, or Dalhousie community, or all of the above, and I hope I do everyone proud. We’ll see, you’ll have to tune in and watch.”
You can watch professor Sachin Seth on the Great Canadian Baking Show on CBC online, or every Wednesday evening on CBC at 8 p.m.