One episode in the recent season of the Channel 4 reality series attracted criticism for its “offensive” depiction of Mexican food and culture, which many people called cultural appropriation.
Fans of the series condemned the stereotypical use of sombreros and maracas in the instalment. The presenters were also criticised for mispronouncing Spanish words and making “tacky” jokes.
During a recent episode of Eater, Hollywood and Leith were asked about the backlash to the episode.
Hollywood said he felt “gutted” about the reaction because he “loves” Mexico.
He said: “I’d literally come back from Mexico about three weeks before we filmed the episode. I spent a month over there with Mexican chefs, working with tacos and enjoying the food in Tijuana and Mexico City and Oaxaca and Cancun.
“I was all over the place, and we set the challenges based on what I’d seen there. The challenges were very good, and everyone did a good job.”
Hollywood continued: “I was gutted. I mean, I was really upset about it.”
Leith added that “we never go out to be controversial”.
“We try to be dead honest. It was quite unfortunate that quite a few people took offence, but we certainly didn’t mean it. As Paul says, the thing about Bake Off is that it absolutely represents inclusivity and diversity and tolerance and togetherness,” she said.
“I don’t want to sound sentimental, but the fact is that the vibe of Bake Off is entirely cooperative and encouraging. So the idea that we were set out to insult anybody is ridiculous.”
Leith gave a similar response last month during an interview with The New Yorker.
She told the publication: “There would have been absolutely no intention to offend. That’s not the spirit of the show.”
Bake Off came to an end last month, with Syabira Yusoff being crowned the latest winner.