A Langford-based baker is serving up success on this season of the competition series The Great Canadian Baking Show, crafting confections that leave the judges craving more.
Originally from St. John’s, N.L., John Fowler, 49, is an administrator at the University of Victoria and has lived in the Greater Victoria area for the last 19 years and Langford, specifically, for the last two.
Growing up, Fowler was fascinated by baking — a long-time family tradition that ultimately pushed him to apply to be on the show, which is now in its sixth season after premiering Oct. 2 on CBC.
“It was something I was always interested in. My grandmother was the baker in the household, so I always watched her do her magic,” he told CHEK News in an interview.
“I even remember as a little kid watching her make cream puffs. To me, it was incredible, how you can take that little dough and make that very large, delicious-looking thing.”
But the famous cream puff recipe isn’t one he opts for often, “probably because I’d eat them all,” Fowler said with a laugh.
This is the third year he’s auditioned to appear on the show after first applying for season three back in pre-COVID days, when a face-to-face interview saw him travel to Vancouver.
“This year, it was more of a Zoom interview, so to speak. So I had to bake something on Zoom. It was interesting,” Fowler recalled.
“I mean, obviously, working at the university, I’m very familiar with Zoom. So to do the baking over Zoom, it was a little weird. It was an interesting experience, to say the least, but obviously, it paid off because I got on the show.”
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(Langford’s John Fowler appears on “The Great Canadian Baking Show.” Image courtesy CBC, episodic photography by Geoff George.)
It was a feat that saw Fowler fly to Toronto, where ten contestants were filmed over several weeks this past summer — something he sums up as “stressful but fun,” especially with cameras watching his every move as he aims to avoid elimination and compete for the coveted GCBS cake stand.
“Obviously, all of us were amateur bakers, and we’re not used to that filming environment either. So it was weird having cameras in your face and people asking you what you’re doing all the time. But you do get used to it, in a weird way,” Fowler said.
He continues to appear on the show alongside Zoya Thawer, a 33-year-old Victoria resident and pediatric endocrinologist originally from Edmonton, Ata.
“She just moved here,” said Fowler. “She’s originally from B.C., she was in Edmonton at the time of the show being produced, and she just moved to Victoria in early September.”
Each episode is themed and the latest, which aired Oct. 23, saw contestants pay homage to all that’s garden grown.
“We just finished week four which was Botanical Week, and I received Star Baker. That means I was the favourite of the week,” Fowler said. “I still feel shocked even watching it, I’m still just as shocked now as I was back then. It’s surreal to relive that experience all over again.”
The Langford baker says he’s thankful for family who have been “super supportive and proud,” as well as old friends who continue to reach out and congratulate him.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Fowler said. “I was one of 60 bakers to ever walk through that tent, so it’s quite an honour and a privilege to be selected from all the bakers across Canada who applied.”
While he can’t reveal many details about what remains for season six, Fowler does say an upcoming episode revolves around chocolate.
“I can say that stress levels go up the closer you get to the finale. Right now, we’re at the halfway mark, so there are only four more episodes left,” he added.
The Great Canadian Baking Show airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.