Interview with Nataliia Shevchenko, who could become Canada’s Greatest Baker

UCC was very pleased to learn that Nataliia Shevchenko, from Edmonton Alberta, was selected as a contestant on the new CBC program “The Great Canadian Baking Show.” We reached out to Nataliia to learn more about her and this unique opportunity.

Season 3 of THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC starting September 18.

UCC: Please tell us about yourself, where are you from, what are some of your interests?

NS: My name is Nataliia. Originally I’m from Ukraine, but I now live in Edmonton. I came to Canada 3 years ago when I married my husband Mike.

I work in an office as an administrative assistant and have a passion for baking.  I grew up in a Ukrainian family and spent all my childhood watching my mom and grandma baking. Baking has always been a huge part of my family life as we didn’t have a big collection of baked goods on the store shelves. My baking passion began when I was 5 when I made my first cookies (Rogaliki -simple, soft and flaky little treats filled with jam and powdered with icing sugar). Then I was begging my mom to bake more sweets every weekend or when I saw she wasn’t busy.

I loved watching cooking shows and finding recipes in newspapers and magazines. Very often I didn’t have all the ingredients that a recipe listed, but I could bake it anyway. I would replace brown sugar with regular, if I didn’t have enough butter for my pie, I would use lard and vegetable oil, I knew that mangoes can be easily replaced with a different kind of fruit, etc. That’s how I started my interesting experimental baking as a teenager. Sometimes it was a complete failure, but most of the time my family and friends had something tasty for dessert.

My heritage has a strong influence on my baking, as we baked a lot and often. I remember my granny baking for every holiday. For Christmas, it would be traditional Ukrainian braided Christmas bread (Kolach) and poppy seed roll.

For Easter, she would bake sweet Easter bread (Paska). Almost every second week she would bake at least 10 big bread loaves and pyrizhky (yeast hand pies filled with variations of fillings (apples, poppy seeds, plums, apricots, cottage cheese etc). I was always watching her making the dough and helped her make some of those tasty treats. You know what else was also very interesting for me in this process? I wish every baker could experience this old fashioned bake – it was an old fashioned Ukrainian clay oven (Peech), my grandma used to bake all her bread goods in. Peech-oven bread has a unique taste and aroma, you will never achieve using a regular electric oven.

I started baking for fun but now it’s my passion. I started to bake more when I moved to Canada. Even now, when I have full time job I still find time for baking. Usually, I bake late at night or on the weekend.

I enjoy challenging myself with complicated recipes and I like to experiment with flavors.  I’m a perfectionist and if something does go wrong I won’t leave the kitchen until I will be totally satisfied with my bake. I strive to make all my bakes look beautiful as well as tasty.  I bake almost every day but don’t always follow the recipe. When I see that I can change some flavor and make it more interesting , why not?

When I was a kid I used to do a lot of painting and make cartoon characters out of playdough. Now I’m doing it with my cakes.

Besides my passion for baking, I love living a healthy lifestyle. I used to dance a lot when I was younger. To keep myself in a good shape I do Zumba and fitness. Living in Canada I get to learn more about different cultures and also travel across Canada.

UCC: What interested you in this experience of the show? What do you hope to bring to the show?

NS: We had The Great Ukrainian Baking Show in Ukraine 6 years ago, but they had only one season. I didn’t even have a chance to apply.

When I arrived to Canada I got to see the advertisement on CBC while I was visiting one of my neighbors. Then I started watching the show and become obsessed with the idea to be one of the bakers.

When I bake for my family or friends I don’t really get a fair criticism, so I am looking forward to feedback from judges.

The Great Canadian Baking Show is a very positive and kind show. I like the fact that the reason I am going to bake in the tent is because I love doing it and all of us are just home bakers and we are doing it for fun.

I already made the most wonderful friends who are there for the experience like me. We are competing for a Cake Plate, not for money prize, and it says a lot!

I’m very excited about being challenged and I was practicing a lot for the show, hoping I can bring my Ukrainian Story by introducing my baking. I live in Edmonton where we have a huge Ukrainian Diaspora and I truly feel myself like home. I want to show who I am by showing my baking style.

 

UCC: What’s your favorite part of being Ukrainian Canadian?

NS: I’m very new to Canada. But as I see Ukrainian culture has become a part of Alberta (Canada) culture. I’m proud to call Alberta my Canadian home.

My favorite part of being Ukrainian Canadian is always to feel welcome. I miss my family and friends a lot, but I just need to turn around and I see all kinds of Ukrainian events and Festivals with traditional food, dancing, singing and vyshyvankas. Ukrainian community is proud to host and celebrate our Ukrainian heritage, culture and traditions. I always experience warmth and hospitality while enjoying meeting all people.

I visit Ukrainian Canadians whose homes look like Ukrainian Museums! It’s amazing, even in Ukraine I didn’t see this.

 

UCC: How can people support you in the quest to become Canada’s Greatest Baker?

NS: It’s very important to know that somebody supports you and believes in you.

I would love people to watch the show and cheer for me.  They can share my posts on their social media and invite their friends to watch me as well. I hope they will tell me what they think so I can interact with them!

 

Thank you Nataliia for telling us more about yourself and your passion for baking!  UCC wishes you the best of luck in the upcoming program.  You can follow Nataliia on Facebook by searching for Nata Shevchenko

Season 3 of THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC starting September 18!

Meet the Bakers of Season 3

Hundreds of amateur bakers from all across the country auditioned to be on #GCBS Season 3. These are the talented 10 who will get to show off their skills inside the tent. Season 3 starts Sept 18 on CBC!

Posted by The Great Canadian Baking Show on Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Background:

THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW is CBC’s homegrown take on the UK’s phenomenal hit format The Great British Bake OffTHE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW brings together 10 amateur bakers from across the country to compete in a series of themed culinary challenges that celebrate their diverse backgrounds, families and communities. Each of the eight, one-hour episodes features three rounds: The Signature Bake, the Technical Bake and the Show Stopper. After the baked goods are tasted and critiqued, the judges decide who will become the week’s Star Baker, and who will be sent home. The final three bakers compete for the Great Canadian Baking Show title. THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW is an affirming, warm-spirited competition that celebrates personal achievement and the joy of baking.


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