The Big Bake is known for its punny baker team names, its larger-than-life cakes and the moving parts that come along with it. The only thing larger than the cakes on The Big Bake is the personality of its host — Brad Smith. The Canadian-born host has been with the show since its first season, but this season he has had the opportunity to add even more of his talents and personality to the role. In a recent sit-down with Brad we discussed all things The Big Bake including his favourite costumes, his favourite cakes and how he makes sure he is the best host he can be.
Brad’s role as host of The Big Bake
Although Brad comes from an athletic background (he was a football player in the CFL for a number of years) he doesn’t let that competitive edge take over when he’s playing the role of host. “I don’t have a competitive nature on TV just because I want everyone to be the best version of themselves” Brad tells us.
It’s the advice he got during his days as the lead on the first season of The Bachelor Canada from host Tyler Harcott that influences Brad’s approach to hosting today: “I learned very quickly from Tyler. One day I asked him a question or something [and] he goes ‘Well, Brad, the show is called The Bachelor. It’s not called The Host.’ And right from there, I learned that just like on any team, you have a role to play” Brad says. “My job is 90 per cent off-camera. My job is to make sure the judges are the happiest they can be to be in the best spot they can be. And with the contestants I’m in there making sure that they’re happy, they’ve got what they want. My job is to make those three teams compete against each other the best they can”.
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When asked if we could compare his role as a host to that of a cheerleader, Brad agreed. “If you could take what my job is… a cheerleader is the exact same thing,” he says. “It literally is! It’s just building everybody up!” By the way he speaks of his hosting duties, it is obvious that Brad takes tremendous pride in playing the role of cheerleader. “I just want to make sure they have the best time ever! Not only the contestants but everybody! I want everyone leaving and being like, ‘Wow, that was a fun day! Wow, I laughed and wow we had fun and I can’t wait to get back on set with Brad again'”.
How hosting makes Brad feel like a kid again
As the former host of Chopped Canada, Brad had the opportunity to spend time with many talented chefs such as Lynn Crawford, Antonio Park and Susur Lee. One of his favourite things about hosting shows such as Chopped Canada and The Big Bake is getting to be around these people with extraordinary talents.
Another thing Brad loves about hosting? “Just getting to be a kid, to be honest with you…” he says. He tells us more so than any other show he’s been on, he is able to have fun, be goofy and let his inner child run free on Food Network shows.
A classic segment on The Big Bake is the bonus bake, where Brad will come out mid-bake and tell the contestants an additional element that they have to add to their big bakes. And it wouldn’t be a bonus bake without Brad in full costume! This season, not only is Brad in costume but he gets to have fun and create a character around that costume. “At the end of season three, I started doing voices and playing around. And no one knew that growing up I did acting and went to acting class and stuff like that!”
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Brad’s favourite costumes from this season are when he dressed up as an exterminator inspired by Vincent D’Onofrio from Men in Black, and when he dressed up as a daredevil werewolf whose character was inspired by Andy Samberg in Hot Rod. He gets to go on set in his costumes and just play around… and see what happens! “Sometimes Jen, my producer, will open [the mic connected to the bug in my ear] so I can hear everyone laughing because she knows it’ll make me go bigger and bigger!” Brad tells us, “we got to a place now where they trust that I’m going to do something within the time frame and they just let me go. And then I don’t think I’ll ever get that leniency ever again!”
Brad’s favourite moment from this season of The Big Bake
Brad admits that every season of The Big Bake gets bigger and bigger. That includes the cakes, the episodes, the costumes, the puns and the fun!
“I let it go and I just dove into the puns, dove into the costumes,” says Brad. “And the cakes this year… It’s like, well, how can you get better than that Frankenstein cake that popped up at seven feet tall? And they find a way!”
If Brad were to step into the role of Big Bake judge, he knows exactly what he would be looking for in a cake. “It would be either a strawberry shortcake… or some sort of hardcore double chocolate cake. I don’t screw with the red velvet. I don’t like carrot cake”.
Although Brad loves a lot about filming the Halloween and Holiday versions of The Big Bake, one of the highlights is getting to step in and be fully immersed in the holidays. “It’s so fun to step into Christmas every day because I love Christmas! And I love Halloween, [because I] get to do the more of the characters.” And playing those characters are some of his favourite moments from this season. “It was one of the highlights” he says.
Speaking to Brad, it is clear that he is very proud of the work he does on The Big Bake and the crew that come with it to help create the show for the fans, especially this year. “I’ve worked for eight years for Food Network, and I will say uniquely that this year they put together a group of people making the show that really respected what the audience would want” he says. “I’m very proud to be part of… I never thought in the first year I’d be saying this but I’m so proud to be part of a baking show! [To have a] job that is just to make everyone laugh for 15 hours, this is like a gift for me!”