How life after 'Bake Off' is shaping up for Norfolk's Kate Barmby
PUBLISHED: 12:30 24 December 2016 | UPDATED: 12:49 24 December 2016
At the start of the year she was a nurse from Norfolk, but after appearing on The Great British Bake Off Kate Barmby's life was transformed. Jessica Long met her at the family farm to find out just how life-changing 2016 has been.
From the wards of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to the most watched television show in the country – 2016 has been quite the year for Kate Barmby.
The nurse from the village of Brooke swapped bedpans for rolling pins as she gave The Great British Bake Off a distinctively local flavour for thousands of Norfolk viewers.
And despite being knocked out in the fourth week after her churro rabbits failed to impress Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, the 38-year-old’s life has changed beyond compare.
“I have to allow extra time to go shopping now as most people will stop and go ‘are you Kate?’ or normally to be fair it is ‘are you what’s her name from the Bake Off?” she said. “But I find it all a bit strange as I always feel like saying ‘are you sure you want a picture with me?’”
Kate’s decision to apply to the show came at the end of a rough year. She described sending off the application form as an “extreme way for me to get some me time” but admitted at the time she had no comprehension of how much of an effect it would have on her life.
“I sent it off just before Christmas and it is funny to say but it felt like I sent off my golden ticket and it was,” she said.
“It was genuinely what happened and I can’t believe it was a year ago because there has been so much crammed into this year so it seems to have almost flown by.”
Filming for the show was finished by June but the contestants had to wait until August until the first episode aired, something Kate found very strange. And by the time the show hit the screen Kate admitted she felt quite disassociated from it.
But after watching the first show, where she made the infamous blue icing, she said she had to rewatch it.
“The first episode I just couldn’t stop laughing as I knew everything had gone wrong and I was dreading watching it but actually I was roaring with laughter through the whole thing.
“I had to go back and watch it again because I had missed too much of it as I had laughed too much.”
Batter Week, the episode when she left the competition, was much harder for her to watch as she felt she was reliving the devastation all over again – but when the episode was aired offers started flooding in.
Kate struggled with what to do after she left the Bake Off tent and admitted she went to ground for a while before a cup of tea and a chat with Sarah Pettegree of Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies gave her some direction.
But she is determined that the show isn’t going to change her as a person and the lives of her family – husband Dave, 44, and her two daughters Lucy, 11, and Rebecca 10.
It could have been easy for her to chase fame in London after the show but she said she wants to keep all her work very Norfolk based and doesn’t want to jeopardise the lives of her family.
“You feel like you should do so much with it as it is such an opportunity but I am also really conscious that I have got children and I have got a job and I didn’t want to give all that up,” she said.
“I really wanted to think about it before so I am now really settled on what I want to do – it is all going to be very Norfolk based, very family orientated.”
In 2017 she will host classes at Richard Hughes’ and Tim Kinnaird’s cookery schools in Norwich where she will be passing on her knowledge of breads, cakes and pastries among other things.
Kate will also be the face of Nelson’s Journey’s Purple Picnic and will be writing a monthly column for Let’s Talk magazine, a sister publication to the EDP – as well as working part-time at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and running her Brownie pack.
“I have tried to stick to Norfolk family firms and everyone has seemed to take ownership of me in a nice way,” she said. “Whenever you hear anything it is our Kate, or Norfolk’s Kate and it is nice to feel that they think of me as one of their own.
“Some of the other bakers aren’t getting as many opportunities as I am and I think it’s because I am so Norfolk based and Norfolk is like your own family and there are a lot of foodie opportunities here so I think I am quite lucky in a way.”
In terms of the future Kate wants to focus on teaching cookery classes and launching her website. Away from baking there is one Norfolk icon she would like to meet and Norwich City chairman and Strictly Come Dancing star Ed Balls could make it happen for her.
“He got in touch and said I will take you to the football with Delia Smith so actually one of the things I do want to do is meet Delia Smith,” said Kate. “I have now met Mary Berry who is the queen of baking but for me, from a Norfolk point of view, it would be lovely to meet Delia because she is that really iconic Norfolk chef.”
Christmas in the Barmby household
The Great British Bake Off may have changed Kate and her family’s life in 2016 but something which will be no different this year is their family Christmas dinner.
Kate said that the family is very traditional when it comes to the festive feast but there is always a difference in opinion when it comes to the stuffing.
“My mum always wants smoked oyster stuffing so what ever house we are in the turkey has to have some smoked oyster stuffing in it somewhere. My husband is more sage and onion so even the stuffings are the same every year,” she said.
The jobs on Christmas Day are shared out with her husband responsible for the braised cabbage, her mum does the starters and Kate is in charge of those all important stuffings.
“Our Christmas is the same every year; there always has to be a Christmas pudding and a chocolate log and some fruit salad.
“I don’t have to think about what I am going to cook on Christmas Day – it is predetermined.”
But one new addition to her diary this year was a request for Kate to turn on the
Pulham St Mary Christmas lights.
She said: “I really laughed about that because somebody said to me you are not a proper celebrity until somebody asks you to switch on some Christmas lights, so now I am a proper celebrity.”
The other bakers
Candice Brown was the eventual winner of the series after beating off competition from Jane Beedle and Andrew Smyth and Kate said all of the bakers keep in touch regularly.
“We have a WhatsApp thread so we all chat every day on that so we all know what we are doing every day. Selasi is in Ghana at the moment and he has been sending pictures but we talk in person quite a lot as well.”
Kate has been to visit many of the bakers and her family had lunch with Tom Gillford recently.
The bakers are visiting Val Stones soon but Kate said that none of the them have made the trip to Norfolk yet.
“Selasi said he was going to come down on his motorbike; he said it won’t be hard and he will just go the A11 and M11.
“I said maybe they could come down for the Nelson’s Journey picnic and my parents have a pizza oven in the garden so I said they should all come down and I think it would be quite funny to have a pizza bake-off in our garden.”
Applications for the next series of The Great British Bake Off, which will now be on Channel 4, close on Sunday, January 8.