Humour part of the winning recipe for Dennis
HE WAS the oldest ever competitor on The Great Australian Bake Off but Dennis Mews, 71, still well and truly left his mark on the show.
Eliminated in week three of the fourth season currently screening on Foxtel, the British-born former school teacher was responsible for the moment in the show that judge Matt Moran said would go down as one of the funniest things ever on Australian television and cemented Dennis as an audience favourite.
After completing his final showstopper challenge - an edible biscuit box filled with 12 biscuits, Melbourne-based Dennis told the judges he was pleased that his creation stayed together.
"I'm very pleased I got to construct it without collapsing, if I may say, my last two erections have been a big disappointment,” he deadpanned in front of the judges.
He laughs when it's mentioned: "I've been in a bit of trouble at home since that went to air - we didn't think it would be in the final edit.
"I was baking for nine hours through the course of two days and that has to be distilled down to five minutes' television time.
"Maggie and Matt had to go away and compose themselves.”
Dennis, who won over the audience with his quick quips and cheeky nature, said he was determined from the beginning to have fun - something he hopes was obvious about his time in the "shed”.
However, while he didn't want to go out in the first week, he believes he was probably eliminated at the right time.
"I was up on the Gold Coast when I first found out I'd been selected for Bake Off - we were away on holidays for three weeks so I wasn't able to prepare as much as some of the others,” he said.
In fact, he had only prepared his bakes for the first three weeks and would have had to have a major rethink for week four's vegan week.
"I didn't know what a vegan was, I'm still not too sure, I might find out this week,” he quipped.
Baking is an obvious passion for the self-confessed perfectionist now, and one of the many new activities he has taken up since retiring in 2008 and moving to Australia in 2012 to be closer to his grandchildren in Melbourne.
"A friend said to me when I was going to retire that if you don't know what you're going to do then don't retire. But he was wrong - for me retirement has been just the beginning,” Dennis said, explaining it had opened up a lot of new opportunities and brought him closer to his wife of 50 years.
"She does my things and I do hers - I like running and orienteering and she only took them up at 65 but she's better than me now.”
While he followed his wife into baking, the competitive side of it came after a visit to the Royal Melbourne Show a few years ago when a sudden downpour saw him and his family sheltering in the baking pavilion for a few hours, where he discovered show baking.
His competitive nature took over and Dennis decided to give the local Whittlesea show a go and that was it - this year he picked up two golds at the Royal Show and is currently preparing bread and other bakes for Whittlesea again.
So what now after Bake Off?
"My wife is interested in getting me cooking savoury food. She's trying to turn me into a MasterChef competitor but I'm not so sure,” he laughed.