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Bake off judge Cherish Finden heading to the East Midlands

Cherish is well known to audiences for her judging exploits <i>(Image: Bernard Zieja)</i>
Cherish is well known to audiences for her judging exploits (Image: Bernard Zieja)

Cherish Finden rose to TV fame after becoming a formidable judge on the popular Bake Off spin off for pastry chefs alongside Benoit Blin, head chef at the famous Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, run by double-Michelin starred chef patron, Raymond Blanc.

Being surrounded by such culinary expertise does not faze Cherish, who first discovered her love of creating both savoury and sweet dishes at home in Singapore.

Growing up in a single parent family, the eldest of three siblings, Cherish became ‘head chef’ at an early age and was given $3 a day, around £1, to create nutritious family meals.

This sparked a life-long love for food and cooking and led to her first job in a commercial kitchen in a hotel in her home city.

‘After receiving compliments about my cooking from my brother and sister, who really loved my Singapore Fried Rice, it motivated me to try my hand in hospitality,’ Cherish tells Derbyshire Life.

‘From the moment I set foot in a professional kitchen, I knew this was my destiny. My work ethic was instilled at an early age and I am still very hands on in the kitchen.’

Great British Life: Chocolate Teapot (c) Pan Pacific LondonChocolate Teapot (c) Pan Pacific London

Cherish’s confidence blossomed and her competitive spirit was channelled into entering local pastry competitions, then regional, before being scouted by the Singaporean National Team.

This led to high-level mentoring by a group of experienced industry professionals and the competitions springboarded her at just 18 into the international arena, first traveling to Switzerland, Canada, then America to compete at professional level.

Her tasty creations delighted judges across the world and, at the last count, she has 26 medals from international culinary competitions, including 18 golds - her pastries even being enjoyed by everyone from presidents to pop stars.

‘I learned a vital lesson in my first job – treat chocolate like you’re friend,’ she smiles. ‘This rule has served me well in global pastry competitions at the very highest level.’

In a bid to hone her skills further, Cherish enrolled in art school and learned pastry is like art, saying: ‘Focused study helped me see things very differently. I realised I am graphic in the way I bring art to food. As I practiced more, I started to create things outside the box and now I like to throw away the box and view things three dimensionally.’

By participating in challenges ranging from chocolate sculptures to plated desserts, it’s no surprise Cherish segwayed easily into professional judging some years later.

Having refined her skills as an international pastry competitor, she has also developed a deep empathy for her Bake Off contestants and is in awe of their achievements, her particular favourite being the shows 2019 winners, Thibault and Erica, with their vegan truffle doughnut.

Great British Life: Cherish is regarded as one of the world's finest pastry chefs (c) Bernard ZiejaCherish is regarded as one of the world's finest pastry chefs (c) Bernard Zieja

Her big break came in 2001 when she joined the legendary Peter Carney at Raffles Hotel. This fired her entrepreneurial spirit and enabled her to learn every element of the business from a true master at one of the world’s most recognised hotels.

When the time came for her next career move, Cherish had already established a successful bakery business before heading west, first to France, where she refined her take on some of the country’s best-known patisserie treats.

Her arrival in England, specifically London’s Great Eastern Hotel, came at a time when afternoon tea and cakes had fallen out of fashion with Brits, and Cherish saw the potential for more great things.

Within six months she had been awarded Dessert of the Year by the Pastry Chef Association and 1st place with her first entry, her personal take on a sugar plum fairy cake.

By this time her reputation was growing, and she was recognised as one of the world’s most talented pastry chefs.

The West End’s five-star Langham Hotel was her next challenge and with just two pastry chefs and a declining afternoon tea service, under her guidance, and by pushing the boundaries, the team grew to a staff of 18 highly trained and motivated pastry chefs, winning Best Afternoon Tea in the UK in the process.

‘Competition is very challenging, and I am always developing, I always want to be the first one to set the trend,’ says Cherish.

Great British Life: Cherish's creations are both delicious and visually stunning (c) Pan Pacific LondonCherish's creations are both delicious and visually stunning (c) Pan Pacific London

‘One of my favourite creations is ‘Appetine’ with the prototype originally made from freshly picked apples from a farm in Cannes, mixed with custard mousse and three apple varieties – pure and simple and also fascinating.’

Her desire to challenge the norm has led Cherish into an exciting array of top-notch culinary roles, from executive development chef at luxury brand Godiva Chocolatier (where she reportedly designed the most expensive easter egg in the world), to a food consultant for John Lewis, and, most recently, at the helm of London’s stylish Pan Pacific hotel’s pastry team, known for its decadent Petit Gateaux’s, including an ode to her mother – aka Handbag – the Chocolate Teapot.

And recently, Cherish has enjoyed the freedom to tantalise more than just our tastebuds, as both an expert TV judge and a sought-after demonstration chef at leading food festivals up and down the country, where you can expect to watch her serve up expertly created patisserie, and perhaps enjoy a little taste - if you’re lucky!

See Cherish Finden live at Festival of Food & Drink at Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire on September 16 and 17.

For more and to book tickets, visit


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