Meet the Calgary engineer who competed on new season of The Great Canadian Baking Show


Ten amateur bakers from across Canada will face off in a new season of CBC's Great Canadian Baking Show, and among them is a 29-year-old Calgary engineer, Oyaks Airende.

He says his passion for baking stems from a childhood memory that has transformed into a talent.

"I watched my older sister and her friends bake my fifth birthday cake … I remember vividly it was a square, vanilla cake," he said.

"I was blown away by the entire process. And I just thought, 'OK, I'm going to do this on my own someday.'"

When he moved to Canada several years ago, he figured it was a good opportunity to start baking.

Then during the COVID-19 pandemic, he says he found himself baking more often. Last spring, he spotted an ad for the casting calls for the show.

"I thought, 'OK, I might as well just put in my application' and that was it," Airende said.

Though it's his first baking competition, he says he's baked all his life.

He says baking is a combination of arts and science — which, with his engineering background, is helpful.

"My background in engineering and science … has helped me understand how the different ingredients react to just give you those decadent and lovely treats you find on the shelves everywhere," Airende said.

His specialty is cakes — especially his signature red velvet cake, though he can't divulge whether he made it for this show.

"That's my go-to," Airende said. "I think I can bake it with my eyes closed."

When it comes to cake decorating, he says it's a chance to put on his "artistic hat" and create both classic and modern designs.

"I tend to put out some … designs that a lot of people find really bold and eccentric," Airende said.