Celebrity chef faces major backlash over 'thoughtless' comment about diabetes

The host of a popular baking show has issued an apology after commenting about a sweet dessert.
Netflix

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Aly Walansky

The act of baking — or simply watching others cook — is enjoyed by many as a way to relieve tension, but when fans of baked goods are rubbed the wrong way, a fiery debate about inappropriate behavior can ensue.

"The Great British Bake Off" is a wildly popular cooking competition show with a cult-like following. It first aired in the U.K. 10 years ago and was brought to the U.S. (thanks to Netflix) in 2013. In the series, amateur bakers, cheered on by jovial hosts, compete against each other in a series of challenges, and judges rank their finished product after every round.

While the hosts and judging panel have seen some changes over the years, judge Paul Hollywood (a baker-turned-professional TV presenter) has been a constant since the show's premiere in 2010. Known as the slightly curmudgeonly figure, Hollywood's zingers have ruffled a few feathers in the past. But one comment he made about a medical condition during an episode that aired on Oct. 22 has set off a firestorm on social media.

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

During each episode, before the contestants set about making a specific type of dessert during the technical challenge, the judges taste a perfect example of any given dish so viewers at home understand the criteria. While tasting a bit of a gâteau saint honoré (a decadent dessert made with puff pastry and a lot of cream), Hollywood remarked that the dish looked like “diabetes on a plate.”

His co-judge, Prue Leith, chuckled in response, then added, "This is worth every calorie, Paul."

But the comment about sweets left a very sour note in viewers' mouths after the episode aired.

Some people who claimed to have Type 1 diabetes felt the comment spread bad information about what having the disease really means.

Others just didn't find the comment funny and encouraged the star to better "educate" himself on the condition.

But there were plenty of others who thought that those who took offense at the comment were taking their outrage a step too far.

Shortly after the episode aired, Hollywood took to social media to issue an apology: “A sweet treat, Chelsea buns … a remark re:- diabetes I made on tonight’s show was thoughtless and I meant no harm, as both my grandad and my own mother suffer/ suffered from diabetes,” he wrote, “apologies X.”

People who wrote in to Channel 4 to express concern also received a memo.

Despite Hollywood's apparent misstep, it's unlikely that "The Great British Bake Off" is going anywhere. The series is so popular that it’s launched various new spinoff series and specials around the world.

Following the outpouring of comments across social media, the production company behind the series made the decision to edit Hollywood's quip out of the show. The version that will air on Netflix will not include the comment about diabetes either.