June 10, 2019

Cooking with Nadya

An extraordinary human being with humble beginnings, Nadiya Hussain, whose lifestyle is simple, straightforward, and filled with incredible foodie experiences.

A woman of exceptional character, Nadiya Hussain is anything but a ‘celebrity chef’ and, in her own words, does not identify as one. Rather, this Great British Bake Off winner prefers to be called a home cook, or simply a cook.

Her surprisingly down-to-earth way of dissecting and exploring food offers viewers of her cooking shows an authentic look at her home and professional life.

In her latest show, Nadiya’s Asian Oddyssey, she takes a DNA test and visits the countries of her origin – Cambodia, Thailand and Nepal.

“To travel to countries that I didn’t think I’d ever go to has just been incredible,” she said at a BBC Upfront showcase in Johannesburg in May. “I want to go to the little corners, the huts where they sell food. That’s where you get all the best stuff. I don’t think you ever really experience a country until you go to the unexpected places.”

Already a multicultural British native with a Bangladeshi family, Nadiya was initially surprised to find that her bloodlines originate in these places. She digs into the local foods here with gusto and the result is one of absolute excitement and anticipation for putting her own spin on real Asian dishes in their native settings.

A food showcase with a difference:

At the BBC Showcase at Indanda Country Club in Johannesburg, Nadiya met with the SA Chef editor and other media to talk about her new show, do a quick and delicious original take on carrot cake, and to share frankly and openly what it’s like being catapulted to fame almost overnight – not to mention baking a cake for the Queen of England!

How do you protect your children from the limelight?

When I did Bake Off they were there at the very end and once you’ve done something like that, you can’t undo it. But I still have control over how much they are exposed to. The way I see it is that I get to do this incredible job where I get to cook. It’s all about my family – that’s where my love of food comes from, so it makes no sense to not include them in my experience. It’s not real then because my children are an inspiration for some of the things I cook.

What was it like baking for the Queen of England?

Because I was busy filming then, I didn’t have very much time to prepare – although nothing really ever prepares you. In fact, I was so bogged down with everything that I didn’t even tell my parents! My dad was like, “Did I just see you on the telly?” But it was an incredible experience. The Queen didn’t say very much, and as Prince Philip came around the cake to greet me, she said, “This is the young lady that won the baking competition.” So now I’ve made it! She actually introduced me!

How has living and growing up in British culture but having a Bangladeshi background informed how you do life and TV now?

My parents, because they were immigrants, tried to instil their culture in us. That is quite interesting when you’re a British child as well because your culture doesn’t allow you to do certain things. There was definitely a conflict at times, and a lot of me growing up just wanted to be British. But now as a grown up with children of my own, I understand the value of growing up in such a diverse, colourful, wonderful mixed culture. It reflects in the way I cook and the way I raise my kids. I can have the best of both worlds now.


Source: SAChef Magazine, Issue 13

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