Skip to main content

Home Life Life Wellbeing

Bake Off’s Sandro on life in the tent – plus 8 adorable pics from his Attitude shoot

Exclusive: "I won’t lie, at times it was like, ‘Oh my God, why did you come here now? And then your joke isn’t even that funny, I can’t even enjoy your joke. Just go.’

By Alastair James

Sandro Farmhouse for Attitude Magazine
Sandro Farmhouse for Attitude Magazine (Image: Markus Bidaux)

After grabbing our attention on The Great British Bake Off, it seems the world is Sandro Farmhouse’s oyster — or perhaps chocolate cake might be more apt, given the sweet treat he bakes for Attitude during his Active feature shoot in the latest issue – out now.

While preparing the spongy delight and teaching us how to decorate a showstopper, Sandro talked defying labels and stereotypes and revealed what’s next for him. 

When did you start baking?

I started early on with my mum in the kitchen, but I did less of the baking and more licking the spoon. I was always excited but I was there for the spoon and definitely the laughter. My mum would always bake cakes that you can have with your tea or coffee. It would be a Madeira or chocolate cake — no filling, no frosting, just a simple, easy cake. When my dad died when I was 21, I found myself baking again as a response to the loss, and the magic began there.

Were there any bakers or chefs who inspired you besides your mum?

I’m a big fan of Mary Berry. I learned a lot from her, like how to bake the perfect sponge. I’ve been really inspired by her. And Mr Paul Hollywood, obviously. I’ve followed his career and got all of his cookbooks and learned how to make good bread. Those are my two inspirations — Bake Off royalty!

What would your advice be for someone who hasn’t done any baking before but wants to start?

Start with what you like to eat. If it’s cookies or a sponge cake, start with that because you really like eating it, so you’re probably going to enjoy making it. And then you’ve got that at the end of it to tuck into. It’s like working towards a goal, basically.

“I started early on with my mum in the kitchen, but I did less of the baking and more licking the spoon,” Sandro recalls. (Image: Markus Bidaux)

How did you find being on Bake Off?

Being on the show was a dream come true. It was amazing. I really enjoyed it. I’d do it 10 times over again. I loved the pressure, being in front of the cameras, the team, and the tent. I loved it all!

Had you applied before? 

I applied once before and I got pretty far in the audition, but I just didn’t get through, unfortunately. The first time, a friend of mine pushed me to do it. But then I lost her, so I didn’t have the courage to apply and just left it. And then I wanted to honour her by applying again. I didn’t get through and then I applied again and got through. I just didn’t give up.

What was it like watching yourself on TV?

It’s interesting to watch myself back and the other bakers because it was a long time ago. At first, it was nerve-racking because I’ve looked at myself all my life, but I don’t know what I’m like!

GBBO‘s Sandro spills on what the pressure is like in the Bake Off tent. (Image: Markus Bidaux)

Is it easy to focus on baking when you’ve got presenters and judges talking to you? 

I’m a fast baker. When they would come over to me, I actually welcomed the break from the fast-paced panic. Most of the time I’d pretend I was still baking just to make myself look good. But normally I was just taking a pause. 

But in the more high-pressured situations, was it distracting to have people making jokes around you?

I won’t lie, at times it was like, ‘Oh my God, why did you come here now? And then your joke isn’t even that funny, I can’t even enjoy your joke. Just go.’ But that was only once or twice. The majority of the time the tent was just full of banter. 

On a scale of one to 10, how terrifying is Paul Hollywood? 

Paul is super friendly. At first, he was like a seven during the first few episodes of filming. But after that he was like a one. I think he was a bit shy actually, and we [the bakers] were a bit shy, so we didn’t know.

Sandro has some advice for aspiring bakers: “Start with what you like to eat.”(Image: Markus Bidaux)

What’s been the biggest change between life before and after Bake Off?

For one, I’m chatting to you — that’s a big change! I’ve never done all this before. To have so many people know who I am and want to speak to me is an amazing feeling. To be able to do all the things I wanted to do and the ideas I had in mind from years back and being able to start putting those into action is really nice. 

You received a lot of attention on the show and since. How do you find that?

At times, the attention was a lot, but the majority of the time I liked it. People want to shower you with nothing but love and positivity. I just welcomed it with open arms.

Have there been any odd interactions?

Not really. I tend to interact a lot with my followers, but nothing odd. It’s all been friendly. It’s a friendly show. Twitter is a bit crazy, but it’s fine.

After Bake Off, Sandro has been hard at work and even baked for Lorraine Kelly. (Image: Markus Bidaux)

Have you ever had any issues when it comes to labels as a baker?

I don’t really care for labels much; I just believe that everybody should be themselves. Be yourself, live your life. But I also understand the importance of representation and all of that. 

You’ve also been on Lorraine. What was that like?

Lorraine was cool. It was such an amazing experience to be on there. I didn’t think it was going to be that quick before I was back on screen. It was a validation that I did pretty well on the show. I can’t believe I made a cake for Lorraine. That was amazing. Meeting and speaking to her and actually being in the seat directly in front of the queen of morning TV, I never thought that would happen — super chuffed!

Have you had any celebrity fans get in touch? 

I’ve had a few. [American actor and singer] Cheyenne Jackson has reached out. Drag queens — Tayce, Jaida Essence Hall, Gigi Goode — so many of them. But the most exciting thing is Melissa McCarthy liked one of my videos. I can’t believe I’m on her radar!

Could we see Sandro in the Strictly ballroom? Maybe… (Image: Markus Bidaux)

What’s next for you?

I would love to do Strictly Come Dancing. That is what I’ve got my eyes on right now. It’d be nice to shake myself up a bit. I’d love to go into the jungle [on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!]. That would be really exciting. We’ll just see what comes along. 

I read you’re a fan of dancing and ballet. When did that start?

Ballet was a school activity. I didn’t want to do football and I did a little break-dancing because I was being bullied in school and that was a way of me avoiding [that] or building confidence. I truly love dancing. The last time I probably danced was [when I was] 15. 

When did you first get into fitness?

I’ve always been a fitness fan and going to the gym, but I’ve never been committed. But Bake Off helped me realise that I can achieve anything. Attaining a certain body has always been one of my life goals. Every year my New Year’s resolutions will be like, ‘Yeah, body goals but I never did it.’ Whereas this year, I got into Bake Off and I’m meeting my body goals too. Ever since January of last year I’ve been committed and now it’s become a lifestyle. It’s not a chore anymore and I can’t live without it.

GBBO‘s Sandro Farmhouse shares his memories of life in the tent. (Image: Markus Bidaux)

What do you do to stay active? 

At the moment, it’s mostly gym. But I am going to start pole dancing, which I’m excited about. That’s for building strength. And obviously, if Strictly calls, I’ll be ready, right? I’m going to get into boxing and do a lot more physical activities. 

Do you have a routine at the gym? 

I’ve got a personal trainer three times a week. I follow a programme, but I pretty much do weights and cardio throughout the day. I’ll do one session of weights, then I’ll come back in the evening and do half an hour to an hour of cardio. Right now, I’m obsessed with the StairMaster. Every day I’m on it with my resistance bands trying to get these glutes up. I have to go [to the gym] every day, mostly for my mental well-being. 

Besides the gym, what do you do to ensure good mental health?

I bake, which is key. Outside of baking, I do a lot of meditation as well. I don’t really have the time anymore to do anything else!

Sandro enjoys a sweet treat as he bakes Attitude a delicious chocolate cake. (Image: Markus Bidaux)

Have you ever felt pressure to look a certain way? Has that changed since being on Bake Off

To be honest, I don’t feel the pressure to look a certain way. I don’t really care about what I look like in the public eye. I look like what I look like. You don’t like it, oh well. I do it for myself. 

How much of a role does diet play? 

It is a big part. Especially right now, when my life is a little bit busier than normal, and sometimes I don’t have time to go to the gym twice a day, but I make sure that I eat correctly. While I’m training, because I want to reach a certain goal, I diet really strictly. A lot of plain chicken and broccoli, fruit, and protein — all the boring stuff that nobody cares for.  

You’re an ambassador for the National Autistic Society (NAS). Why was that an important cause to get behind?

I’ve always been passionate about autism and helping the community. I built myself an organisation called Baking on the Spectrum as a rapid response to the pandemic, doing online baking workshops for children with autism. I believe in teamwork, especially for a good cause, and I was more than excited to join the NAS to bring all our powers together and help a community that needs it. 

Sandro set up Baking on the Spectrum to help children with autism. (Image: Markus Bidaux)

What’s it been like to run Baking on the Spectrum and how has it had an impact on people?

It has become so joyful, and something that the families and the children and young people involved really depended on almost every week. They were important to me anyway, but it made me realise how important they are, and why it’s vital to do something for a community that needs a lot more. Over the years, children tend to start exploring foods more, so parents have less of a struggle with feeding them. Also, it’s showing parents how to do sensory play with things that we all have at home, like flour. Teaching them how to do really basic stuff and how it can be a sensory activity that is engaging — it’s all about bonding and that family value. I get a lot of good feedback. 

Where does that focus on community impact come from?

My whole family is into support and community work. I used to go to youth centres back in the day; I sort of grew up in them. I needed them and I feel like there needs to be communities or places where you can feel safe. So, I just created a space for that.