Documents obtained through a freedom of information request reveal a senior council officer was exchanging emails with Malaysian investment firm YTL last April about the prospect of ‘stay[ing] in a nice hotel where people will make you nice cakes.’
The heartwarming bakery competition, hosted by YTL, owners of the Brabazon Hangar, pitted top developers against each other to see who could master the art of whisking batter, erecting resilient crumb structures and cultivating smutty innuendos.
Tellingly, early favourites to win the arena contract, developers for ‘Arena Island’ Buckingham Group, were not invited to take part in the competition. In fact, YTL were the only developer who attended the competition, the results of which are due to be broadcast early September.
“We’ve been open about the need to taste all of the evidence and consider all soufflés before we make a decision on the Temple Quarter site. An essential part of this is having a detailed understanding of YTL’s cake making skills. If you can bake a cake, you can probably make an arena, right?” a council spokesperson said.
“Business meetings, Victoria sponge, discussion about draft documents, shoux pastry, providing information on prospective profits and apple turnovers are normal activities for these kinds of proposals.”
The Mayor, who was honorary supreme head judge of the bake off, refused to be drawn on the issue: “As with all these competitions, it’s pre-recorded, so the winner was decided months ago. I’m being treated like some kind of Al Capone figure, which is cool. But nevertheless, I can’t tell you who won. That would ruin the surprise.”
Unfortunately, co-judge Prue Leith prematurely tweeted last night “Bravo YTL”, which may have given the game away.