Dan is a nutritionist and medical scientist by day, and a baker by night. Recently, he had the opportunity to share his passion on a grand scale as he participated and became a finalist in the 2019 Australian Bake Off.
Along with the joys of cooking and wanting to share this with the world, Dan is a new business owner whose business was severely impacted by COVID-19, and a LGBTQI+ community member who believes strongly in the need for change in how the TV and media industries represent LGBTQI+ experiences and stories.
In this interview, self-professed “glitter lover” Dan shares his views on representation in media, his experiences during COVID-19, and how he’s nurturing his passion for baking.
- What opportunities do you think the TV and media industries are overlooking or completely missing when it comes to educating the community about important issues, such as LGBTQI+ rights?
We didn’t talk much about the LGBTQI+ because the main focus of the show was baking. I think the media industry is still far too scared to show an honest view of our communities in mainstream TV especially. And when there is a rare glimpse of something honest and maybe surprising to the mainstream, it’s unfortunately met with some negativity from a small few.
- When you say an ‘honest view of our communities’, what does this mean to you?
When you even have a lesbian kiss (which is only touching the surface of our community) on Home and Away causing uproar in certain pockets of society, there are definitely problems. Mainstream media seldom features an in-depth look at the real problems that our communities face in terms of challenges in relationships, the workplace, and the fact that the fight for equality didn’t stop when the “yes” vote went through.
- How can TV stations reflect this accurately?
Stop making the gay characters the side piece to main story lines. Start showing a more in-depth view at the real and detailed lifestyles we lead.
- What drove you to audition for The Great Australian Bake Off last year?
I love challenges and I wanted to experience something new and exciting to do with baking.
- What were the best and worst parts of that experience?
The whole experience was the best part of my life. I met so many beautiful people (friends for life), I worked with amazing producers, I baked so many things that I’ve never thought I was able to do. I think the worst part was on the last day was when we had to say goodbye and leave the shed where we were filming.
- How has your passion for baking evolved since being on the show?
Since the show I have been busy baking for my Instagram and I launched my baking business called Dan’s Bake Lab.
- Have there been any challenges with starting your own baking business?
It was a challenge starting a new business especially because you have to gain a great volume of clientele and there is a lot of competition out there. I think you have to create something unique and amazing flavours to stand out, but still that isn’t enough. You really have to learn how to use social media to your advantage and leverage positive word of mouth.
- Have you had to make any changes to Dan’s Bake Lab since COVID-19?
Just a month before COVID-19 I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne and I was planning to start my business here in Victoria. As soon as I started working here to gain a new clientele, the lockdown started and I had to pause what I was doing. Since the isolation I have been working on new flavours and recipes and once everything is over, I can start selling my sweet treats to the Melbournians.
- What are your thoughts on the recent spike in interest in baking since the coronavirus pandemic?
I love the fact that people are baking a lot at home and they are making so many delicious goodies. Baking is so relaxing and I feel like in this stressful time we all need some baking therapy!
About the expert
Dan is a medical scientist by day and baker by night. He is the creator of Dan’s Bake Lab. Dan is a self-taught, Melbourne-based baker with a passion for creating edible works of art which are truly one of a kind. Originally from Italy, Dan grew up baking with his mamma and nonna who taught him the traditional ways of making delicious dolci Italiani (Italian sweets). These days, he enjoys blending the old with the new and throwing in something that hasn’t been imagined yet, all to create something truly show-stopping.