'I'm scared someone will see me buying a readymade dessert', jokes Bake Off Andrew
Northern Ireland's Great British Bake Off star has told how he is scared to buy readymade desserts in the supermarket because he is worried that someone might spot him.
Holywood man Andrew Smyth reached the quarter finals of the show on Wednesday and is now the most successful contestant from Northern Ireland to take part in the popular BBC 1 series.
The former Sullivan Upper student has emerged as a frontrunner in the competition, scooping the star baker accolade in this week's episode.
But he said that he got approached for selfies by fans so often that he had become self-conscious about what he buys.
Andrew has become so popular that one of his fans even baked a treacle tart designed to look like his face.
"It's bizarre - I am just a regular engineer, but people seem to be enjoying my facial expressions and what I am bringing to the tent," he said.
"It has been a bit overwhelming, actually, how positive everyone has been.
"I can't go and do my normal shop without being wary about what is in my basket in case I am stopped and someone wants a selfie at the supermarket.
"It is sort of fun, but if I am feeling lazy some evening and sneak into the desserts aisle, I can't really get away with it anymore because someone might be watching, so lots of spinach in the basket type of thing."
Andrew, who has made reference to poaching some of his family's recipes during the show, also told how his dad's shortbread is the talk of their church.
Speaking to BBC Radio Derby yesterday morning, he added that his family had taught him a lot about baking.
"Gran and mum, and more recently dad with his passionfruit curd and the dates, have inspired me... their recipes have all been sneaked in there," he explained.
He revealed he also used his granny's sponge recipe for his mini mousse cakes this week.
Andrew, who works as an engineer in Derby, uses rulers a lot during the show to ensure straight lines on his bakes, alongside a number of timers.
"Going into the competition, I thought timing was so important, so why not have the most timers I can get?" he said.
"I had a timer for my curd, I had a timer for my sponge, a timer for the overall time, a timer for the caramel. I thought, 'If I have a timer for every single thing, I am not going to forget anything.
"I think it mostly worked, although it was like the New York Stock Exchange at times.
"When we got over six timers, it was getting easier to lose track, so six may be the optimum."
The last local contestant on the Great British Bake Off was Iain Watters from Belfast in 2014.
He married his long term girlfriend, Catriona Mills, earlier this year and chose a baked Alaska recipe as his wedding cake - despite it having cost him his place on the baking programme.
His attempt at the dessert on the show turned into a meltdown after it was mistakenly left out of a freezer.
In dramatic scenes he threw the entire bake away in what became known on social media as "bingate".
Iain is understood to have returned to his job as a builder in London.
The quarter-finals of the Great British Bake Off will be shown on BBC1 next Wednesday evening, and will feature a Tudor baking theme, including pies.