Toronto lawyer takes on The Great Canadian Baking Show

Toronto lawyer takes on The Great Canadian Baking Show
Human rights lawyer Corey Shefman is one of 10 amateur-baker contestants on The Great Canadian Baking Show, shot in Toronto.

One doesn’t usually think of “lawyer” and “baker” as shared skillsets, but Toronto human rights lawyer Corey Shefman is proving that otherwise.

Shefman is an associate at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP who is putting his amateur baking skills to the test as a contestant on the new CBC television program The Great Canadian Baking Show, which premiered Nov. 1. 

“I mostly applied because I thought it would just be a fun story to tell. I never thought I would actually be picked as one of the top 10 amateur home bakers in Canada,” he says, explaining that contestants had to be put through an application and audition process. “I was really floored when they asked me to be on the show.”

The show is Canada’s answer to the popular British version, The Great British Bake Off, and was filmed this past summer. Shefman says he took vacation time to participate, so it fit into his schedule.

“We talk a lot about work-life balance in our profession these days, making sure that we’re not in the office 18 hours a day, seven days a week. And OKT has not only had my back, but they’re really excited, probably because they’ve been my guinea pigs the whole time,” says Shefman, explaining that his colleagues got to sample many of his practice creations.

Baking, he says, is his outlet and is an activity that helps him to balance his busy life working in law.

For the last three years, Shefman says he’s taken up baking as a hobby because it fits in with his hectic schedule. When it comes to baking, it could be done in stages, which is what he says he likes about the process. For instance, pastry could be made one day, put in the refrigerator overnight and then taken out the next day to complete the pie.

Baking, in general, and having the opportunity to be part of the show has also given Shefman the opportunity to take a step back from practising law and clear his mind.

“We can get very invested in our work [as lawyers] and it’s very easy for us to make our clients’ problems our own. Having a way to separate yourself from that, even just for a few hours, is really important. For me, it’s with baking,” he says. “When I’m elbow-deep in bread dough, I can’t pick up my phone even if I wanted to.”

Another positive aspect of being part of the show was the creation of friendships. Shefman says that he stays in touch with fellow competitors from the show, even though everyone is from a different part of the country. He says that he enjoys the commonality and shared passion of baking and the “concentrated time” spent with people who love the activity as much as he does.

As for the negatives, he says that, “as cheesy as it sounds,” there were none.

“Being a lawyer involves a certain kind of creativity — coming up with arguments and being creative that way. Baking is a different sort of creativity. It lets me express a more artistic side of that,” Shefman says.

The Great Canadian Baking Show is on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC, with weekly eliminations and new challenges in every episode.

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