Hilda Bassey, the CEO of Food by Hilda, who recently cooked for a record 100 hours, the longest time by an individual, says the record attempt is a means to an end.
During a press conference Thursday in Lagos, Hilda, also known as Hilda Baci, said she was motivated to take on the challenge in order to promote Nigerian cuisine globally, expand her business, and employ more hands.
“One of my biggest goals is that I want Nigerian recipes to be propagated across the world,” Hilda said. “I want it to be a normal thing to make Egusi soup in an American environment, walk into any random supermarket and find Nigerian ingredients and not have to travel hours to one African store just to find a core ingredient.”
She held that the only way that will be achieved is if the demand for it increases.
“If the demand for it increases, there is now a market and people will feel that they need to start cultivating Egusi, ugwu, plant wild spinach (Oka leaf) in the UK and doing this cook-a-thon meant more people will be interested in Nigerian recipes but this is not the only thing I have to do,” she said.
“It means I still have to teach more people how to cook Nigerian foods. Hopefully, it means more people will be interested in learning how to make the meals that I made during the cook-a-thon so it still helps me to achieve my goal.
“I also want to expand my restaurant. I was already in the process of opening up to investors to come in and franchise for other countries and other parts of the world as well because I’m trying to create jobs.”
The Lagos-based chef laid emphasis on the role that teamwork and emotional intelligence played in her success, while also motivating women entrepreneurs.
“It is important to me that more women know that the business that you are doing can fund your lifestyle,” she said, This involves setting appropriate prices, making your money work for you, and being mindful of your spending.”
On a lighter note, Hilda’s mother, Lynda Ndukwe, shared the story behind their names. She named Hilda after a wealthy friend she admired, and she named her son Gilbert after another affluent individual.
Reflecting on her daughter’s achievements, she recalled her culinary business ran under a canopy in the bush, serving over 300 customers daily.
“Hilda’s a child then, each time she comes, she will be so anxious to serve customers,” Ndukwe said. “That is what has led her here today. It’s like you being a medical doctor, then you produce a medical doctor, better than you are. I’m a caterer and I have produced an international chef.”
Hilda’s menu with which she broke the record offered a variety of dishes including party jollof, coconut rice, and fried rice. For soups, options include chicken curry, egusi soup, and fisherman soup.
There were also breakfast options like akara and pancake, as well as sauces and meats such as goat meat stew and peppered Chicken.
Other choices include fried fish, turkey stew, and ofada. With a range of flavours and options available, Hilda’s menu caters to diverse tastes and preferences.
The Guinness World Record has stated that it will review all the evidence first before officially confirming the record of the Nigerian chef.