Kouign Café owner Andrew Han talks co-hosting CTV’s new cake-making show 

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      Andrew Han has ascended from baking show competitor, to judge, and now to co-host. 

      The owner and pastry chef of Kouign Café in Vancouver’s Chinatown—that’s pronounced “Queen Cafe,” we asked—tells the Straight over the phone that he was originally a little nervous about taking on the role, but his co-host on CTV’s soon-to-be-premiered Cross Country Cake Off, Mary Berg, made the transition feel like a regular cakewalk. 

      “It was just really great working with her and she made me feel so relaxed,” he says. “It was definitely daunting at first, but once I saw what Mary was doing I thought ‘oh yeah, I can do that,’ and it all just unfolded from there.”

      Han and Berg—herself being a three-time Canadian Screen Award-winner for Best Host—will lead 24 bakers from across Canada through four episodes of the show’s shorter, holiday-themed season before the series returns in the spring. 

      Cross Country Cake Off premiers with a special two-night event on Thursday, December 15 and Friday, December 16. The remaining two episodes of the December season will air on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app on Monday, December 19 and Tuesday, December 20. 

      As well as co-hosts, the duo were both judges on the show, resulting in a LOT of cake tasting. According to Han, he tasted somewhere in the realm of 120 total cakes.

      “It was pretty shocking in the first couple of qualifiers,” Han laughs. “I was not used to having that much cake and sugar in my system in one day—but you develop a tolerance.”

      Han, a Vancouver local, notes that he did his best as a judge not to be biased towards the West Coast participants, as the show features eight bakers from each of the three host cities: Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax. However, he adds that some of the creations did manage to hit close to home for him. 

      “It was really interesting going from region to region and seeing everyone’s hometown personality,” he says. “It was a lot of what we love so much about the West Coast and BC specifically. It’s the mountains, the trees, the forest, the greenery, the connection with nature, all of that was really represented in the cakes that the cake-makers brought forward.”

      Han continues, “It was a nice connection to have and to see that and to be taken back to growing up ... seeing them brought back in the form of cake I thought was really magical for me especially, because I’m from here.”

      Across the board (and the country), it was the personal flair baked into the cakes that Han says is what really elevates the show to something truly special. 

      “One thing that really struck me was the amount of storytelling that happens with peoples’ cakes and where their inspiration comes from,” he muses. “It really does make a great baking show even better.” 

      The show will return in the spring with six episodes and 40 cake-makers from across Canada. We just hope Han will have upped his sugar tolerance by then. 

      Cross Country Cake Off airs starting December 15 on CTV.

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