Thank heavens for The Great British Baking Show. It continues to be the perfect tonic to the end of summer, the start of school and the chaos of life. For one blissful hour a week, the bakers are back in the tent, Prue has donned her gargantuan necklaces, Noel’s sideburns are more pronounced than ever, and all is well in the world.
Usually, it takes me a couple of weeks to commit to my favorite contestant. I don’t want to be hasty (is Selasi a f-ckboy or the perfect man?) I’m hesitant to get too attached (will Rahul’s low self esteem prevent him from reaching his full potential?) But this year I couldn’t help myself, one contestant pulled at my heartstrings from the very first episode. It is, of course, Jürgen. Lovely Jürgen with his gentle manner, precise bakes, and seemingly absent family. (Name me a more heartbreaking moment than when no-one answered his phone call after being awarded star baker in episode one.)
Happily, Jürgen appears to have a loving — if occasionally preoccupied — family. And they’re Jewish! His wife, Sofia, and son, Ben, are members of a Reform synagogue in Brighton, England. Rabbi Andrea Zanardo told The Jewish Chronicle that Jürgen was “a supportive husband and father,” describing how he regularly attends both in-person and virtual services and walked alongside Ben as he made his way to the bimah to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.
He’s also treated the community to a taste of his baking skills, leading a baking class for the Hebrew school’s parents’ committee and regularly baking challah. Perhaps Jürgen can be the one to inform Paul Hollywood that challah is not, in fact, “traditionally served on Passover,” and reassure him that the skill of bread braiding is alive and well.
Here’s hoping Jürgen gets a chance to show off his Jewish repertoire in the season ahead — I’m sure his rugelach have never leaked, his bagels are perfectly crusty yet chewy and Black Forest sufganiyot would be worthy of a Hollywood handshake.