BCIT Computer Systems Technology graduate, Sheldon Lynn, has always had a creative side. When the pandemic kept people in their homes, he saw it as an opportunity to work on one of his creative passions. Little did he know that passion would land him on the Great Canadian Baking Show, where he appeared in six out of the eight episodes.
Lynn is a self-described “home-baker” who grew up watching the Great British Baking Show, and in turn, the Great Canadian Baking Show. He said his love for cooking and baking was inspired by his family from early on in his toddler years. “I grew up in China until I was six, and I have fond memories of being in my grandparents’ kitchen and watching them cook for the whole family and having the whole family connect over food,” said Lynn.
He added that his more recent focus on baking continues to fuel his curiosity and connection to food, as he sees food as a form of cultural and personal storytelling. This interest in storytelling through food was something he did on the show by paying homage to his Chinese heritage in different baking weeks. “For cookie week, I did a portrait of my sister, mom, and I, and it portrayed our move from Sichuan, China to Vancouver. [I got to tell] a little bit of my family’s story and above all to honour my mom because she was a single mom who immigrated with two very young children to a country where she didn’t really speak the language or know anyone, but she did it to provide my sister and I better opportunities and a better life.”
Lynn said he wanted to use his time on the show to explore aspects of the immigrant experience because “we are a country of immigrants but sometimes it’s not something everyone talks about.” In his case, he drew inspiration from his Chinese roots to tell the story of the kinds of sacrifices immigrant parents like his mom make continuously to provide a better future for their children. He added that showing this story on the show not only resonated with a lot of viewers who watched the show, but it was a complete surprise for his mom who was touched by the gesture.
As a BCIT alum, Lynn said his time in school in his CST program prepared him in more ways than one for his time on the show. He said that the pressure of going through school at BCIT rang true to the same pressure he experienced as he prepared for the different baking challenges under time constraints in the infamous tent. “BCIT was a really intense experience, and the baking show was also an intense experience… It was a culmination of a lot of little things.” Lynn shared that in preparing for the show, he was working full-time and would devote all his free time to baking. “I would get off from work and bake from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and then bake all day on the weekend because there were so many things to prepare. It was draining but so satisfying,” said Lynn.
With no formal training in baking, Lynn noted that he sees baking as both “a science and an art,” and jokingly added that whatever he lacked in talent, he “made up for it in enthusiasm.” He added that although baking on the show seemed daunting at first, getting over that initial feeling of imposter syndrome helped him continually work to “beat his last bake” each time he was in the tent.
Lynn’s creative ingenuity shined through in every showstopper and signature bake category he was in. For his first appearance in the signature category, Lynn presented a Bundt cake, beautifully adorned with a sugar dragon decoration. In his showstopper round during cake week, he made a captivating Georgia O’Keefe inspired layered cake that had a glistening mirror glaze.
For episode two, which focused on the art of bread making, Lynn incorporated a Japanese cooking method for his French tart tropézienne and infused flavours from British Columbia into it. The use of these multicultural influences paid off, as the flavours and textures of his tart were well received by the judges in the signature bake round.
Lynn’s excellent play of flavours and colours stood out most in the Italian themed baking week where he was dubbed the star baker. He infused summer camp flavours into his biscotti that built up to a fun and creatively plated smoky bake. His showstopper tower themed bake blew the judges away, not only for its wonderfully plated idea that used the physics principle of tensegrity, but also for the texture and colour combinations. Lynn’s showstopper was a triple threat star bake made up of sfogliatella pastry, almond croquante, and a lemon and almond flavoured amaretti. To watch episodes of Lynn on the Great Canadian Baking show, you can find them on the CBC Gem app.
Since leaving the show, Lynn has continued developing his passion of baking and said he plans on expanding his online presence for his bakes on different platforms of social media. He said the key to getting started on the art of baking is finding a signature bake and building one’s skills from there. “Keep making the same thing over and over and take notes each time and tweak it here and there, as opposed to the inclination to try a bunch of recipes.”
Lynn remarked that it felt surreal to be on his favourite TV show, but the one thing he took away from the experience that challenged his creativity and skill, was the baking family he now has. “We have the most lit group chat where we talk about just baking and we troubleshoot together. There is just so much love.”
In speaking with Lynn, it was evident how important it is for anyone to find passions outside their work, trade, or career path, because those passions can take you to unexpected places that are just as rewarding.