Business grad and top-notch baker lands a spot on CBC’s The Great Canadian Baking Show

By Costa Maragos Posted: November 13, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Vandana Jain, a graduate of the Faculty of Business Administration and now CFO of the Science Centre in Regina, is proud to represent Saskatchewan on CBC TV’s The Great Canadian Baking Show.
Vandana Jain, a graduate of the Faculty of Business Administration and now CFO of the Science Centre in Regina, is proud to represent Saskatchewan on CBC TV’s The Great Canadian Baking Show. Photo by Costa Maragos - External Relations

Vandana Jain loves her job, loves the U of R and loves baking.

Jain, 36, earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in 2004 from the U of R’s Paul J. Hill School of Business and her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2009 from the Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business.

Jain has made it through the first two rounds of CBC Television’s The Great Canadian Baking Show seen each Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. There are still six rounds to go.

Vandana Jain
Vandana Jain in action competing in The Great Canadian Baking Show. Photo courtesy of the Great Canadian Baking Show
“So far so good,” says Jain who cannot reveal if she gets past round three, never mind all the way through to the final round.

“I’m a huge fan of the BBC’s Great British Bakeoff which this show is based on,” says Jain who is the CFO at the Saskatchewan Science Centre in Regina. “The little voice said in me ‘just give it a try.”

With encouragement from her husband, Jain (pronounced Jan) went for it. Thousands of Canadians applied but only ten made the final list. Jain wowed the judges with her chai banana fritters infused with green cardamom.

The show was recorded in a makeshift kitchen/TV studio assembled under a big white tent.

“I describe it like a summer baking camp,” says Jain. “The first night we had a welcome dinner and we (contestants) all clicked and just became good friends. After a few days we said ‘have we only known each other for a few days?’ We just clicked and we still stay in touch daily.”

Jain is the show’s only Saskatchewan finalist.  

“I am super excited to be chosen. Being from Saskatchewan you’re always underestimated,” says Jain. “So for me it’s such an honour to be able to represent this province and I want to make Saskatchewan proud and really try my best.”

Jain loves fusion baking inspired by her East Indian heritage.

“I grew up with baking in my household. My mom is a great baker. She is super excited I’m on the show. A lot of flavours in my baking come from her,” says Jain. “For me, baking is a good way to unwind. It kind of takes me back. The appeal is going back to the basics and knowing what you put in your food.”

Jain says the show producers encouraged the contestants to express their own baking styles. Jain says she showcases home-grown ingredients whenever possible.  

“There are such great prairie ingredients that when you incorporate them into traditional baking, it’s fantastic,” she says.

Jain grew up in Regina. She graduated from Campbell Collegiate in 1998 and enrolled the same year in the U of R.

“At that time, a lot of people were moving away but for some reason the U of R drew me in and it has a really good business program,” says Jain. “I loved the business program and the diversity and knowledge of the professors. It is the type of school that really cares. They care about the students. For me it was the perfect university to go to. I have never regretted it.”

Jain has been working ever since she graduated. She’s been the CFO at the Science Centre for seven years and describes it “as a fantastic place to work.”

We asked Jain any advice she has for current students.

“I say follow your instincts. If you start listening to yourself a little more, it might take you to where you want to go. And, step out of your comfort zone sometimes,” she says.

Would that include taking part in a network reality TV show?

“I would definitely say that was completely out of my comfort zone,” laughs Jain. “It was nerve wracking. It is intimidating but one of the best experiences I have ever had.”

Vandana Jain is now one of eight finalists in The Great Canadian Baking Show. The show’s first two rounds featured cake and bread themes. Round three is all about desserts.

Tune in Wednesday, November 15 at 8:00 p.m. (visit here to view past episodes) to see if she makes it to the next round.  

Follow Vandana Jain on Twitter, Instagram and on her Facebook page