The GBBO Star and UCL undergrad talks about baking, fame, and the off-camera habits of Ms. Berry…..
Hi Ruby! Welcome to The Tab! How are you?
Good thank you.
Fantastic, having a good Wednesday?
Yeah, average Wednesday.
Great. Thanks for coming to talk to us. Here at The Tab we’re mildly obsessed with you, not sure if you noticed. Do you want a cup of tea? I brought a thermos!
There’s your tea.
Do you want any cake?
I just went to the Hare Krishna curry actually.
That’s alright. I’ll have it later. You’re probably sick of cake.
It’s good tea.
Thanks. So how did you get so good at baking?
I think I made a lot of baking improvements when I was preparing for the show. Once I found out I got on that’s when I realized ‘I need to learn how to do this stuff’, I need to actually sort of swot up. It was probably when I started uni a couple of years ago, that’s when I learnt how to do the techniques instead of just putting together a cheesecake, every time it was somebody’s birthday or something.
I love a cheesecake!
Oh, I’m sick of them, I wasn’t sure it was possible but it definitely is.
Did you not start when you were really little?
I never really did much baking. I’m not from a baking family or anything like that. I was just always really greedy, I used to read recipe books as a kid that’s what interested me.
So you weren’t baking that much before you applied for the show?
I started baking during the summer of last year, and I’d never heard of the Bakeoff at the time. I just started learning how to do bread, choux pastry and that sort of thing. That coincided with actually seeing the show and I said ‘actually there’s so much more I need to learn’. It kind of seemed like a good challenge.
Obviously you can’t reveal anything that we’re yet to see, but do you have any favourite moments from the show so far?
I don’t know, I only remember the traumatic moments.
Don’t focus on the negative Ruby!
What was really good….Bits of good feedback. It’s amazing when people who actually know how to bake tell you that you’ve done an alright job. Actually sweet dough week was good, when I came first in the technical competition challenge. I thought I was just fluking my way through but actually I clearly did quite well!
Definitely, star baker twice so far! Who did you get on with the most? Did a lot of friendships form?
Yeah, everyone was really close. People actually were friends, it never felt really competitive, or at least I didn’t, maybe I was oblivious. I think Frances was my best friend there, we got along really well. Obivously we were polar opposites on the baking spectrum, she did amazing looking stuff and I did stuff that looks like shit…
Don’t be so down on yourself Ruby. We loved some of your bakes. What about Glen? We love Glen. Was he fun?
So, so fun. Everyone was fun. I think you lose some of that, obviously we used to go away for a whole weekend and film it, and then it gets condensed into one hour show, so a lot of people’s quirks, and their funny moments and all their jokes we thought were so amazing at the time just didn’t make it on. You don’t see how rounded some of the characters actually were.
How stressed did it get? Were there any heated moments between the bakers?
No, we never got annoyed at each other. Again maybe I’m being oblivious to it, but I think genuinely was a really nice atmosphere. Occasionally if anything there was a bit of an ‘us against them’ atmosphere against the judges sometimes, but nothing personal. Obviously we always want good feedback and they don’t want to give feedback so…you know.
Was it a bit like being at school with teachers?
Yeah sometimes we were a bit naughty as well.
What did you do?
I can’t say!
What about when Deborah stole the custard?
I was right in front of Deborah. It was an accident, it was absolutely an accident. We had to share fridges and she just got mixed up and she felt bad. She was really really upset about it as I would’ve been. Howard obviously took it in his stride, since he’s the most forgiving man of all time, he’s incredible.
What about Mel and Sue, how was the atmosphere with them?
They’re amazing. So good, they honestly make it bearable in the tent. Obviously it’s massively intense, you’ve spent sleepless nights preparing recipes and then you’re in there for hours at a time and it’s pretty full on, but then they’re there. They’re a bit subversive within the show, I think they try and shield you a bit from the cameras when you’re upset, I mean nobody’s out to get you, but they’re definitely on your side.
I feel like within the school metaphor they’re like the rebels, stirring everything up, every pun intended. Do you have a favourite out of the two?
They’re good for different times. I think Mel was very good at cheering me up just being very kind and gentle and Sue was there when I kind of needed to just be a bit more mentally alert. She’d bring me round, revive me because I did tend to sort of zone out a bit.
I saw her giving you pep talk…
Yeah I’m like ‘Mel I need a talking to’ so she comes over and gives me a talking to and it’s what I need and then I get on with it. I kind of scampered off to do some crap. I definitely needed that, I used to get so anxious I’d be shaking and be incapable of doing anything, so I needed someone to tell me to get a grip.
Talking of the team, what about Paul? He’s a huge star now, how was it working with him?
Great. He’s a genuinely nice guy, he really is, and actually I quite like his style of baking as well because he’s really into bread and it’s something I enjoy. I wouldn’t say pleasantly surprised, but obviously he’s nicer than he comes across because he has to play bad cop on screen, but off screen he’s lovely.
What do you think of the view of him as a sex icon?
[Laughs] Not for me!
Not a fan of the silver fox?
Yeah, not my thing but you know, for other people maybe that’s what they go for.
Okay, moving on, Mary? Was she scary?
No, she was so lovely, genuinely lovely, obviously everyone wants her to be their nan, she’s wonderful, so supportive. Actually she surprises you sometimes. There was one point that she told Sue that she’d been to Pacha in Ibiza, the superclub. I don’t know how it came about. She’s an enigma. I don’t really understand what she does in her spare time.
Clubbing apparently! So Mary Berry, 78 year-old baking wonder, went to Pacha in Ibiza? Do you reckon you could call her up and ask her if she wanted to go clubbing?
I reckon she’d go for a drink.
A quiet sherry probably.
To be honest, I probably have an earlier bedtime than she does, I’m in bed by ten.
Haha. So have you kept in contact with everyone from the show?
Yeah, actually it’s really nice. I definitely talk to all the other bakers.
How has the response been since the show?
It’s pretty overwhelming. I spent most of my life avoiding attention and then all of sudden I turned myself in for a TV show. It’s okay, there’s nice stuff and not so nice stuff, but it’s alright.
Did you expect the sort of level of notoriety that you’ve got, or was it a bit of a shock?
Obviously I knew that lot of people watch Bakeoff and obviously expecting people to be talking about it and be interested in it, but I wasn’t expecting a lot of the attention that’s come out of it, I wasn’t prepared for it all.
You have quite a dedicated online fanbase, how have you found that?
It’s really nice actually. At first I thought I didn’t really want to have an online presence, I was quite scared of it, but actually it’s nice getting that support and getting messages from people, and actually the other day I got these letters from these primary school children in felt-tip pen. It was the best thing I got all year, so that was really, really nice.
Is it a bit of a come-down returning to UCL after all that?
Actually it’s quite nice, it’s nice to be back in a normal routine, and be doing normal stuff and not have cameras on you all of the time.
So what is the plan from here? Are you going to be a philosopher long-term?
I’ve got no intention of carrying on philosophy longer than my degree, I enjoy it, it’s interesting, but I’m realistic and it’s not going to happen. I’d really like to work in food, that would be nice, but we’ll see.
Do you have any favourite bakery joints around London, any tips for our readers?
There are loads of places in London that charge like £4.50 for a slice of something which annoys me in a big way, but sometimes you can be surprised by some of the less fancy bakers, not like the ‘artisan sour-dough breadmaker’ but the baker round the corner who does some pretty rubbishy stuff but also decent Chelsea buns and Bath buns, loaves of bread, nice and simple, usually reasonably well-priced.
Are we talking about Greggs?
No. I’ve never been into a Greggs, that’s not because of any snobbery, it’s just never happened, but I’ve heard they do a very good sausage roll.
And a cracking chicken and bacon lattice.
I’ll try it out.
We can go get one if you like?
Let’s go get a Greggs!
Huzzah! So I feel we’re now familiar enough to play a game. You said you were keeping up with The Tab’s coverage. Our writers were having a lot of fun coming up nicknames. I’ve got a few for you here, I’m just going to run through if you could pick your favourite?
Great. We’ve got Rubes, which is the classic. Rub-aaay, that’s just your name but elongated slightly. Rubella, Rhubarb and Custard. Ruby Tuesday. Rubenstein. Rubix Cube. Rubi-wan Kenobi. Rubius Pip. A Rubicon Sparkling Guava Juice. Ruby Ruby Doo, Where Are You? And Ruby Wax.
Do you have a favourite?
God, they’re awful!
They’re great! I spent ages on these.
I particularly hate Ruby Tuesday. Rubella sounds like a disease.
It is indeed a disease. Maybe steer clear of that, unless you want an ‘edgy’ nickname.
I’ll stick with Rubes.
Fantastic, well thanks so much for coming to talk to us, Rubes. Final question: can I have a hug?
Yes! Of course you can.
[Amazing Ruby Tandoh hug]
A video of this interview will be appearing shortly on Tab TV