How Norwich’s Topless Baker found fame and became a judge on American TV
- Credit: submitted by Matt Adlard/Ira Giorgetti
What started out as a bit of fun for Norwich YouTuber Matt Adlard has now turned into a thriving baking business and he is also a judge on the Food Network in America.
Mr Adlard, 28, was surrounded by cooking growing up as his dad David owned Adlard’s Restaurant in Upper St Giles Street, now Roger Hickman’s Restaurant, which held a Michelin-star and he would clean cutlery on Saturdays and has fond memories of sneaking into the pantry to get chocolate chips and cans of coke.
Despite his upbringing, he was adamant that he didn’t want to become a chef, after seeing his dad work until the early hours of the morning, so went to university to study international business.
After graduating he moved to London to work in the advertising industry but soon realised he had “gone into the wrong job” and was spending his days working on Excel spreadsheets.
In January 2016 he decided to launch the Topless Baker YouTube channel as a laugh, where he would create everything from unicorn lava cakes to his dad’s famous lemon tart wearing just an apron on his top half.
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The channel quickly became popular, with hundreds of thousands of followers, so Mr Adlard quit his job and returned to Norwich with his partner Sacha, who he married last year, to be a full-time vlogger.
It has opened up opportunities for him all around the world and alongside appearing as a judge on Channel 4’s Beat the Chef, which sees amateur cooks take on professionals, 18 months ago he was approached by the Food Network channel in America.
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Mr Adlard said: “They had contacted me when I first went viral but nothing really came to fruition, I had thought at the time I’d be the next Jamie Oliver.
“I kept working and then out of the blue they asked me to be a judge on some of their shows including Chopped Sweets, Food Network Challenge and Christmas Cookie Challenge.”
At the same time as securing the gig in the US, he decided to strip his brand of the Topless Baker and is now just known by his name.
He has also recently launched an online school called Bake it Better for all abilities, with a different topic each month.
Mr Adlard said: “I was doing cooking demonstrations at events and taking my shirt off backstage with professional chefs there and felt a bit embarrassed.
“I felt it had run its course and I thought it was important if I wanted a serious career with longevity, but I did lose a few thousand followers.”
Asked what his dad thinks of his success, he said: “He is a bit blown away by the number of people that follow me but he loves that I’m passionate about cooking - he does take credit for his lemon tart though.”