Mary Berry is not the only veteran given a new lease of life by The Great British Bake Off. Vintage models of the Kenwood Chef food mixer are in huge demand from cooks who have discovered that even a 50-year-old machine is likely to outlast its modern counterpart.
The original kitchen appliances — launched by Ken Wood in 1950 — were made of metal and over-engineered to guarantee longevity. Over the decades, they acquired a vast range of bolt-on accessories, from bean slicers to coffee grinders, citrus juicers, mincers, a pasta machine and a cream maker — all of which are sought after by cooks and collectors.
Michael Stratton has restored more than 500 vintage machines over the past three years. Mr Stratton, 50, from Portsmouth, said: “British engineering between the 1950s and the 1980s was probably the best it has ever been. Everything was built with extreme precision and most things were over-engineered.
“The problem with the modern ones is that they aren’t made to the same standards. They perform but they don’t last. The vintage models were well over-engineered to the point where they didn’t break down.
“The Great British Bake Off has had a positive impact on my business, to say the least.”
Mr Stratton started his business four years ago after buying an old Kenwood Chef at a boot sale for £8, restoring it and selling it on eBay for £180.
The contestants in Bake Off have each been provided with a modern Kenwood machine. The company is now owned by the Italian manufacturer De’Longhi.
Ian Cumming, 41, a travel photographer, will take on Nadiya Hussain, 30, a mother of three, and Tamal Ray, 29, a trainee anaesthetist, in the Bake Off final, to be shown at 8pm tonight on BBC One.
Some BBC employees have been accused of placing bets on the winner, already knowing the outcome of the recorded final. Ladbrokes confirmed that hundreds of stakes had been returned after a flurry of bets on one competitor in the first week of the contest.
A spokesman said: “Something smelt a bit strange. We are looking into it further. If we feel we’ve had the equivalent of a custard pie thrown in our faces we will think twice about whether we should bet on markets like this again.”
Ladbrokes said that its investigation was continuing and that it was not prepared to name the contestant allegedly being backed by the insiders.