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May 22, 2024

Philly baker to compete on American spinoff of 'The Great British Bake Off'

Victoria Walters, a Temple University alum, will display her skills during Season 2 of Roku's show, which premieres May 24.

TV Reality Television
victoria great american baking show Provided Image/The Roku Channel

Victoria Walters, a Philly resident and Temple University alum, will take her baking talents to the tent in Season 2 of 'The Great American Baking Show.'

Philadelphia resident Victoria Walters traveled across the pond to compete against other amateur bakers under the famous white tent beloved by fans of "The Great British Bake Off."

Walters, a Temple University alum, is a contestant on the upcoming second season of Roku's "The Great American Baking Show" — a spinoff of the feel-good "Bake Off" reality competition known for its venue in London and catchphrases like, "On your marks, get set, bake!" All episodes of Season 2 will be available to stream through the Roku Channel on Friday, May 24.

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In "The Great American Baking Show," hosted by actors Casey Wilson and Zach Cherry, contestants from across the United States must compete in a series of signature baking challenges in the hopes of being crowned "America's Best Amateur Baker." The judging panel is made up of Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, staples of "The Great British Bake Off." 

"Totally, totally surreal," Walters said Wednesday of meeting the judges and hosts. "Even still, I see pictures of myself with them, and I'm like, this is weird. This is an out-of-body experience. I can't believe I was actually there. I can't wait to watch the episodes."

Originally from Harrisburg, Walters, 34, now lives in Philly and works as a user experience researcher for an investment company. She met her husband at Temple, where she studied international business and marketing, and they have a young son. Aside from her career, Walters has "a lot of hobbies." She sings in an a cappella group, photographs weddings and, of course, bakes.

"I've been baking since I was a little kid," said Walters, who posts her creations on Instagram. "It's just in my DNA. My mom is a really good cook and baker, and same with my grandma. So I just come from a family where everything's homemade."

A huge fan of "The Great British Bake Off," Walters first applied for the American version after a friend sent her a link on Facebook in 2020. She had to take a baking quiz and then go to New York City and show casting officials three of her best bakes. She admits that she may have stretched a few details during the casting process.

"I sort of fibbed and said that I had done lamination before," Walters said, referring to a process of folding and rolling butter into dough to create thin layers, as seen in croissants. "So I had to laminate for the very first time."

From there, Walters got to work on learning more about the desserts and pastries she may need to know if she was asked to be on the show — including everything from pavlova to checkerboard cakes. She spent long hours during the pandemic researching recipes and baking, and offered leftovers to Facebook users in "buy nothing" groups. 

"Even when it was bad, I'd (post), 'These macarons are terrible, does anyone want them?'" Walters said. "And people would be like, 'What? These are the best I've ever had!' and I'd be like, 'Really?'"

Even when things weren't going her way with the bakes, Walters' can-do outlook allowed her to push through.

"My attitude is always just like, yeah, I could do this," Walters said. "I knew some of the basics (of baking) at first, but what's the worst thing you have that happens? You have some ingredients that you end up throwing in the trash? That's the worst, but most of the time it at least tastes good. So start trying, start practicing. And who knows, you can end up on a TV show."

In 2022, casting reached out to Walters to see if she'd like to be on the show. She couldn't join the first season because she was pregnant and due in August when the show was filming. Despite a "really rough" pregnancy and newborn period with her son, Luca, Walters was game when she was asked again in 2023 to potentially be part of Season 2. She even brought a stroller to carry all her baked goods to the audition.

After being selected as a contestant, it was off to England for Walters, which presented its own unexpected challenges. 

"We were all dealing with jet lag, different ingredients," Walters said. "They have different dairy over there. They have different sugar; there's like 20 different types of sugar. And none of them are the same as ours. There's like four different types of brown sugar. Literally everything is different. It's crazy."

While Walters didn't (figuratively) spoil what types of bakes she was tasked with this season, she did tease the great rapport between contestants — which led to friendships that continued after the cameras stopped rolling.

"We had a lot of fun together," Walters said. "There are a lot of cameras, but they always do a wide shot where you get to see the middle of the room. And we would always be yelling to each other across the tent. That was really fun. And now they're my best baking buddies. If any of us needs a recipe or has a question about something, we're texting each other all the time."

The first season of Roku's "The Great American Baking Show" debuted last year, becoming the No. 1 on-demand title on the Roku Channel during its opening weekend. A previous iteration aired from 2015 to 2020 on ABC. Roku's version has already been renewed for a third season on the platform, as well as specials featuring celebrity contestants around the holiday season, the Super Bowl and summer.

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