Local resident a finalist on The Great Canadian Baking Show with her decadently delicious baking

Local Port Elgin resident, Niv Saberi, is one of only 10 in Canada who will appear on The Great Canadian Baking Show that begins October 1st on CBC.

Show photos provided by CBC
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Three years ago, when nuclear engineering professional at Bruce Power, Niv, began her maternity leave, she found she had cravings for French baking and, what better way to satisfy them than to start making her own.

“I started baking and couldn’t stop,” laughs Niv Saberi. “I began baking things like eclairs that I wanted to eat! Then, when Covid struck and we all had to stay isolated, my husband and father-in-law demolished the main floor of our home and designed and built a beautiful kitchen space.”

                                 Newly designed kitchen

Niv’s love of baking began early in life after moving from India at the age of seven with her family.  “It was the first time I saw an oven as we didn’t use them in India and at 10 or eleven, I began baking for family.”

School was important to Niv however, and she began her education in nuclear. Not wanting to go into nuclear science, she instead chose the engineering path and began nuclear engineering in Oshawa.  It was there that she met her Persian husband, Ashkan, who is also a nuclear engineering professional at Bruce Power.  “He is so logical and technical and the more I began to be immersed in that side of things, the more I began to think outside the box and discovered I had a very creative side as well.”

“Engineering is very mathematical with attention to detail,” Niv says, “and in baking you also use detail but in a very creative way. I also design and make polymer clay jewellery, such as earrings that are minute in scope and, naturally, based around baking.”

Although of the Baha’i faith, while living in Toronto, Niv volunteered at St. Vincent’s de Paul, a Catholic organization that cares for the homeless and those in need. Today, she volunteers at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Southampton, helping with community suppers.

“Volunteering at St. Vincent’s taught me to be thrifty,” she explains. “Almost 90 per cent of all my kitchen items have been thrifted, from knives to baking pans, scales to a pancake griddle.”

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She also tells the story of how she came to be chosen for The Great Canadian Baking Show.  “I applied on-line in January and didn’t know if I would be picked.  It was while we were on vacation in Australia that I was asked to submit some baking.  We were in a camper van so I had to rent a kitchen there. It is very competitive with participants across Canada auditioning and it was finally narrowed down to 10 … and I was one of them! With a new young daughter, Ariya, I didn’t know what I was going to do but the entire community was so supportive. We had registered Ariya at the Montessori school in Port Elgin but there was a three-year waiting list.  When they found out however, that I had this opportunity to be on the show, the owner immediately stepped up and told me Ariya was accepted and not to worry.  Timing in life is everything.”

The show completed, Niv continues her active lifestyle.  She’s a member of the Port Elgin curling club, plays volleyball, practises reiki, makes her own kombucha and cooks with the vegetables grown by her husband. Her creativity has also branched out into other areas such as creating macrame hangings, painting and learning to play the mandolin.

Throughout the summer she also taught children’s cooking and creative baking through the Southampton Art Gallery at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, a program that was sold out. “I will be continuing with that and there are so many other things that I want to do.  I find that if I plan life around getting the things done that I don’t like, it frees me up to do the things I do like.”

As for her being chosen for The Great Canadian Baking Show, she says that the contestants have become like family.  “We were so immersed together in the show, that we have become really close.  It was a wonderful experience!”

One of the best things about the interview?  A chance to taste the decadently delicious mango torte!