Hollywood at the Liverpool Food and Drinks Festival, 2012
|Born||Paul John Hollywood
1 March 1966 
Wallasey, Cheshire, England
I can't go to sleep on a train anymore because people take photos of me. You know, dribbling. It's a bit embarrassing. I go to sleep with my collar up.
I love Rome for their calzones and New York City for the variety of quality eateries, but I absolutely fell in love with Miami for the stone crabs at Joe's just off Ocean Drive – the best I've ever had, and the Cajun food. The steaks out there are colossal – it's like having a shark and a cow on your plate.
To make a full-blooded puff pastry, you need time, you need patience, and you need precision. It's all about the lamination: it's all about building up the layers of butter, dough, butter, dough; as the butter melts, it creates steam, and that brings up the layers of the two doughs apart from each other, and that's what gives it the rise.
I have gone through some bad times with my own business. At one point, I was working my socks off, driving, delivering, baking. It was hard, hard work. But I worked through it. Running your own bakery is hard. I never came close to bankruptcy, but I had to cut back on staff.
I was filming in Roscrea in Co Tipperary. I had great fun watching monks in the monastery there making bread. They even offered me a job as their main baker. One of them said I would make a good monk, but I told him there was a slight problem because I was married.
Anything that has more buttercream than it does cake is going to be a no-no for me.
For me, it is always part of my holiday to go and work my way along the shelf in the local artisan bakery with its breads, savoury tartlets, pastries and cakes. It is soul food: one of those things that tells you about a place and the history of a place and its people.
I get a lot of Tweets from fans of 'The Great British Bake Off' asking me questions about different recipes or baking techniques, and I do enjoying getting back to people whenever I can. But as soon as I get home, I always make a point of turning my phone off, as I think it is really important to be able to unwind at the end of the day.
I like to remind the contestants where they are by playing the 'Bake Off' theme tune on my phone as they walk into the tent. They freak out, as it suddenly dawns on them that they're on the show.
I have always said I would love to go to America, and with a name like Hollywood, it's perfect isn't it?
I have been a baker for more than 30 years now, and in terms of equipment, all I really need is flour. It still amazes me what a versatile commodity it is, as you can do so many different things with it, and I never tire of trying new blends and recipes.
I may demonstrate the various stages of making a loaf on stage, but they don't end up in the final product I lift out of the oven at the end. If it were real food preparation, I'd wear a hair net, a hat, and rubber gloves – not a pretty sight.
I still pinch myself that I have a second-hand Aston Martin DBS Volante, the convertible model of James Bond's car from 'Quantum of Solace' and 'Casino Royale.'
I want to pass on my secrets to people who are going to say, 'I have realised that I love baking, and now I'm going to make my bread and sell it at the local farmers' market,' or who might say, 'I am going to use the local Post Office in our village to sell my cakes.' I want to give them that little bit of fire.
A sponge is quite simple. You weigh ingredients, mix, and put it in the oven. With pastry, you manhandle it, shape it, fold it. You have to be involved with it; there is more jeopardy, more risk. But it's like making a casserole. There's a flurry of activity to begin with; then it's about leaving it to rest.
I've seen so many kids walking to school with these massive high energy drinks, and they are nine or 10. I'm like, 'What?' It was a treat for me. It is still a treat for my family.
I get embarrassed on the red carpet at awards ceremonies. The whole celebrity thing is embarrassing.
New Year's resolutions generally don't work for me. Or I don't work for them. I make them, like everyone else, but I can't think of one I have stuck to for more than 24 hours.
I love the sensation of being out in the open air, far away from all the distractions of modern life. I will usually disappear for a couple of hours, and that time on my bike is quite sacred, as it's when I do all my serious thinking. Sometimes I will stop off at bikers' cafe and have a bacon sandwich.
One day, I'll disappear and hide in a corner of Britain. I'll own a bakery in a village, live above it, have a big garden because I like mowing. I want to get up when I feel like it, let people queue for my products, and when they're gone, shut the shop and think about tomorrow. Creating magic – that's my dream. And I'll do it.
I don't believe in diets. They don't necessarily work. What they do is scrub your weight down, but as soon as you finish, you naturally go back up. I keep everything in my diet – gluten and sugar – I just cut it down a little bit and train more. It's not rocket science.
It's been a huge part of my life in the past few years, and I just couldn't turn my back on all that – the bakers themselves, the bakes, the team that makes it, and of course the tent, the bunting, and who could forget… the squirrels. So I am delighted that I will be continuing as a judge when 'Bake Off' moves to Channel 4.
Ironically, when I was in Dubai with the BBC 'Good Food Show,' even though it's an urban area, when you see the vast panorama from the top of the Burj Khalifa, it feels remote, as if it's just sprung up out of the desert. I like Dubai. I didn't think I would, but the food and the people were great.
I love evangelising about baking and passing the word on, and I will carry on doing that.
Wherever you go in Europe, you'll find each country has particular flavours in their baked goods. It is one of the big differences between Europe and the United States.
When I get home at night, I always have a soak in the tub before changing into my dressing gown and slippers.
I love France. It's got the sun down at the bottom, the Alps for skiing, and all that wine and food.
Years ago, I saw a job for head baker for The Dorchester Hotel in London, and I didn't want to move away from the North West. But then I thought, 'I've got to do this for my career,' because I was very ambitious. So I went for it and got the job.
I love evangelising about baking and passing the word on, and I will carry on doing that.
I think baking's far easier than cooking, and because of that, it's more approachable.
I find dealing with tempered chocolate a bit tricky, but that's a chocolatier's job. So I dabble, but I wouldn't profess to be good at it.
Like most of Italy, Neapolitans like their food, and there are restaurants everywhere. But to make like a true Neapolitan, grab a pizza from a street vendor and eat it there and then. We tried a pizza that's folded over four times to make it nice and portable, then you eat it straight out of paper, like fish and chips.
I get marriage proposals, maybe one a week. Women do flirt, yes. They just want someone from the telly. They come and talk to you, and I guess baking is more attractive, and so they feel they have something in common with me. But I'm just a man from Liverpool. I enjoy what I do, and if that gets people baking, then even better.
There's something clean, simple, and even detoxifying about a loaf that contains nothing more than the best stone-ground, whole-meal flour, salt, yeast and water.
I don't feel 50. I'm still ambitious, and I've only just got my licence to race sports cars. I race for an Aston Martin team called Beechdean, and it's a huge challenge.
Everyone has a favourite cake, pastry, pudding or pie from when they were kids.
'The Great British Bake Off' has brought baking to the nation, and we've seen people from all walks of life and backgrounds experience the highs and lows of competition and, more importantly, helping each other.
In recent years, I've begun the year by driving across France to the Alps, abandoning the January gloom for Alpine winter sun, even if the ski-goggles do give you panda marks when you get a tan. As a child, I was always a bit of a billygoat when I'd go camping with my mates in North Wales, around Snowdonia.
It's the polar opposite of most people, but I absolutely hate carrying a ton of stuff onto a plane. I check in all my luggage and literally go through security with nothing other than my coat, in which I have my iPhone and iPad.
It's a great thing because I've said to my lad, 'What do you want to do today – football, shopping, playing a game?' and he says, 'I want to bake with you, Dad.' And he loves it, baking with me.
Crumpets I make myself. I love crumpets. You can't beat a good home-made crumpet.
I went to Naples to work with one of the best pizza-makers in the world, and guess how long he bakes his pizzas for? He bakes them for 45 seconds. In and out. And they're incredible. Any more than that, and it's no longer considered a pizza. I've been spouting off to people for years – six minutes in an oven.
The key thing is to educate not just kids but adults about what goes into food. You do that in any way you can, bread machine or not.
My dad made these dough balls and covered them up with a cloth in front of a gas fire, which was stuck on a wall. They were rising. In my head, I think they were the best rolls I've ever had. If there was a starting point for me, that was it.
I'm quite shy, really. The figure you see on TV, that's just a persona. I like getting home, putting my feet up, getting into my slippers and dressing gown.
You can't beat a good doughnut. It has to be a jam one with light pastry and caster sugar on the outside. If I'm really tired, I have to hunt one down, because it gives me that sugar rush to keep me going.
I drove from Naples to the Amalfi coast in an Alpha Romeo 1969 Spider, which was lovely. There have been lots of movies made down there, and I felt a bit like James Bond – the driving is quite hairy. The locals have mopeds, but you wouldn't catch me on a bike on those roads. A tank would be safer!
I do love my full English breakfast, but not every day. What I can't do without first thing in the morning, though, is my Danish pastry or a croissant – anything with a laminated dough, enriched with butter to make it beautifully golden and flaky.
When my career in hotels was taking off in the Nineties, I went to work as a head baker in Cyprus, where I was making Danish pastries every day. I can remember that the head chef was always on my back to put more seasonal fruits in with the creme patissiere. I'd even make them with rhubarb.
Get digital scales because, for baking, balance scales just aren't accurate enough: it's all in the weighing up.
We didn't travel much when I was little – most of what we did was visit various campsites around Conway, north Wales. My first major holiday abroad was to Ibiza with my parents when I was five. I vividly remember the plane touching down and that the hotel had great swings with lots of little lizards darting about that I was determined to catch.
Civilisation was built around wheat, around people settling down and not being nomadic. Baking is one of the oldest professions.
The sugar tax is fine. I agree with that. But I think it probably doesn't go too far. But then, I work on 'The Great British Bake Off.' We make cakes with sugar and butter. I can't be too critical. It is like anything in life: it is all about moderation.
Some people seem to think their oven self-cleans, but you need to clean it to stop things getting blocked up so you get a good rotation of air and heat inside. Get a probe to test the oven is reaching what it says it's reaching too.
Dad was a baker, and we lived above the bakery, so I was always popping down to have an apple pie or a doughnut or a custard or gypsy tart: I had a very sweet tooth, and I think that that was what got me into doing what I do now.
Baking can be done with a few simple ingredients, so it's about simplicity and nostalgia – people are reminded of their childhood.
I sometimes worry that by encouraging so many more people to try their hand at baking through 'The Great British Bake Off,' I'm going to find myself in court one day charged with accelerating the national epidemic of obesity! To which I will plead not guilty. A slice of Victoria sandwich is never going to harm anyone.
Naples is curiously chaotic and, if I'm honest, a bit dilapidated. It certainly has a 'lived-in' look. It's alive, it's vibrant, it's a little bit dirty, it's busy, and I loved it. I felt like this was how Rome would probably have been 2,000 years ago. There's a real bustle, and it's down and dirty.
Before I was ever a baker, I was a teacher. Or, at least, that is what I thought I was going to be. After O-levels, I went to art school in Wallasey on the Wirral, and my mate Cavan and I did a teacher training course.
I can be a romantic. The way to every woman's heart is through her stomach. Food is at the core of everything.
I can judge a restaurant by its bread: it winds me up that a lot of places buy pre-packed ones in and don't bother putting them in the oven to crisp them up again. And you shouldn't put bread on a side-plate: it needs to be pushed back into the centre of the table.