A Beloved Cooking Show Is Getting Called Out

The Great British Bake Off is being accused of promoting Mexican stereotypes.

By Chad Langen | Published

The heat is being cranked up on BBC’s popular cooking show The Great British Bake Off, and not in a good way. According to CNN, a recent episode of the series is under fire after several of the country’s top Mexican chefs accused the show of cultural appropriation. In the recent Mexican Week episode of the reality competition series, which premiered in the UK last Tuesday and aired in the US on Friday, October 7th, the contestants’ assignment involved preparing pan dulce, tacos, and tres leches cake, which critics considered cliché.

In the opening scene of the Great British Bake Off episode that’s landed the series in hot water, hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas dressed in sombreros and serapes. Other moments in the episode had Lucas shaking maracas and contestants messing up the pronunciations for pico de gallo and guacamole. What’s worse is the fact that the show’s hosts playfully questioned one another about whether people might be offended by their jokes.

Great British Bake Off

A chef from near Mexico City and who runs the Cavita restaurant in London, Adriana Cavita, found the recent The Great British Bake Off episode to be insulting. She told the Guardian: “For me, it’s a bit sad to see this kind of thing because knowing my culture and my country, I feel it’s more than just a cactus and a sombrero.” Cavita indicated that such representations of her country catered to outdated stereotypes.

A large portion of the Season 10, episode four installment of The Great British Bake Off saw the contestants making cheeky jokes with one another as they explained simple Mexican dishes, with one participant suggesting they had no idea what Mexicans even bake. Nud Dudhia, who runs the Breddos restaurant, was displeased with the lack of research and the disrespect that was displayed for Mexican culture and cuisine. “Because of what’s happening in the culinary scene in London, people’s minds are being opened to what real Mexican food is, then The Great British Bake Off comes and kicks that back 10 years,” he said.

Since the episode aired, Alejandra Ramos, who hosts the Great American Recipe, shared her thoughts on the recent installment of The Great British Bake Off, suggesting it would have been the perfect opportunity to feature a Mexican guest judge or host to hold on-camera discussions and to aid the contestants. She added that Mexico has a vast variety of incredible dishes that would have been more inspiring. “Mexico has incredible pastries, cakes, breads, and even baked savory dishes that they could have made instead,” she said.

This isn’t the first instance where The Great British Bake Off has been accused of alleged racism. In 2020, the featured Japanese Week and contestants were granted permission to substitute traditional Japanese flavors for Indian dhal and Chinese stir-fry flavors. Just like the recent Mexican Week episode, the series was accused of showing a lack of respect for Japanese culture and food.

The Great British Bake Off is a British television baking reality competition that is produced by Love Productions and follows a group of amateur bakers who compete against one another in a series of rounds, hoping to impress a duo of judges with their baking skills. One contestant is eliminated in each round, and the winner is crowned out of the contestants who make it to the final. The first episode aired in August 1010, with its first four series broadcasting on BBC Two. As the show’s popularity continued to climb, it landed on BBC One for its next three series.

The fifth season of The Great British Bake Off is currently streaming on Netflix under the name The Great British Baking Show, and it consists of 10 episodes. Additionally, you can find pretty much every season of the show on YouTube courtesy of some tech-savvy fans. The popular series is also available on Channel 4 to UK viewers.