My Record Has Been Validated, What Is Coming Is Just The Certification: Hilda Baci
On Monday, May 15, 2023, Hilda Baci successfully cooked her way to 100 hours and 40 minutes, finalising her attempt to break the Guinness world record for the longest cooking by an individual. Initially intending to cook for 96 hours to break Chef Lata Tandon’s records, as the 96th hour approached, Hilda said she was motivated to extend her attempt to 100 hours and 40 minutes; breaking the record of the current holder by over 13 hours.
Speaking at a media parley in Lagos, the new world record holder said it took her five years to completely get ready for the attempt and credited running a restaurant fully and her jollof face off competition as great preparation for the feat. The Cook-a-thon started on the 11th of May at 4:20 pm and ended on the 15th of May at 8:40 pm. During the Cook-a-thon, she prepared over 200 meals and served to over 4,000 people.
The meals she prepared include party jollof, coconut rice, native rice, asun rice, fried rice, native pasta, jollof pasta, porridge eyam, porridge plantain, mashed potatoes and white rice. For soups, she prepared chicken curry, edika ikong, egusi, oha, afang, fisherman, nsala, goat meat pepper soup, seafood okra soup and ofe akwu.
For cold dishes, she prepared akara, pancake, burger, chicken wraps, abacha, african breadfruit sauces/meats. Sides included goat meat stew, buka stew, peppered turkey, peppered chicken, fried fish, peppered fish, turkey stew and ofada sauce.
Baci who has been trending on social media since the start of this week, has become one of the most searched Nigerians this week with almost three million Google searches.
Speaking at the press parley held in Lagos, she said she cooked all her meals herself without any external help and wanted to show the world Nigerian food. “I knew it was a good dream and it was viable but I never knew it would get this big. It was important to me that everything was done well. We followed all the rules. I didn’t cut corners in creating the experience I wanted to and God made it bigger than I could imagine.”
Reiterating that she never planned to get to 100 hours, she said her friend and brother convinced her to make it a round number. “I remembered when we were getting close to the event, some of our team members’ spirits were down because we were not getting the reaction we hoped we’d get but I wasn’t worried because I know what I was doing. I decided to work with the brands I already had and went ahead to make it happen. I’m grateful for the brands that did come on board and made it happen, I don’t take their support for granted.”
“When I said I prepared for this attempt five years ago, I meant I couldn’t afford it then or had any backing but God had already laid it in my heart to do this. I built my brand and worked on my person from that time. I also decided to lose weight to feel better about myself and I knew I was going to do a lot of standing. My back still hurts, my ankles are still swollen, I have several burns, been unable to eat or sleep till now, it really took a lot from me and I know it would take some time before I get back to normal myself.”
On her source of strength and inspiration, she said the first day was the hardest and she almost gave up six times that day. “But as time went on, my family, friends, fans and followers that came and became invested in this journey, I knew it was beyond me and I was doing it for them. They took me to those 100 hours and even after; I had to thank them because their support held me down.”
“God also helped me because my body failed me several times. On the second day, people held a worship session under the rain for three hours begging God to give me strength. I couldn’t have done this without God, and it was God and people’s strength that kept me going till the end. Nigerians are amazing people and will thrive in the most difficult conditions; people just need a chance to show what they can do. People didn’t know me from anywhere and stood there in the most difficult conditions, supporting me, the love was overwhelming.”
On how she would feel if GWR doesn’t give her the record, she said, “To me, my record has been validated, what is coming is just the certification. I did everything by the books, didn’t leave a single stone unturned and I’m confident that I would get it. We put in the work, were live the entire time and anyone that watched it would know we did the work.”
On if her record is overtaken, she said she doesn’t mind as records are meant to be broken. “Someone else would want to do this after me and I’m happy that I’ve provided the template.”
Praising her mother whom she described as driven and determined, she said her mom has played a key role in who she is today. “Everyone is wondering what’s my next big move but this was a means to an end for me. I own a restaurant and I teach and my goal has always been to take Nigerian food to the world’s biggest stages. I want Nigerian food and ingredients to be accessible everywhere in the world and people are more interested in Nigerian recipes and meals. I want to expand my restaurant, take the franchise to other parts of the world and create jobs. People want to work in oil companies because of the perks but my dream is that the culinary space will become as sought after as oil companies.”
Speaking to women looking up to her, she said women need to treat their businesses as something that takes care of them by pricing themselves well. “I want to work with many brands and provide value to their consumers and vice versa. Women, your dreams are valid, God has put something in everyone and you need to figure out what it is. Women are capable of so much more than they realise. You can be beautiful, smart and still change the world. Young women should be allowed to be themselves in any way they like. Nobody owes you anything and you need to get out and do things on your own. I hope young girls realise what I’m trying to show them. The journey was hard and tasking but God saw us through. I couldn’t even taste food at some point.”
Some of the highlights of the event were the devotion of Nigerians who came to support Hilda under the rain and sunshine, cheering and praying as she powered through the attempt. A Message from the President of Nigeria; President Muhammadu Buhari on social media to congratulate and encourage her, a call from the Vice President of Nigeria; Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a courtesy visit from the Ooni of Ife’s youngest wife, a call from the incoming, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno. Visit from celebrities and famous personalities including Tiwa Savage, Kate Henshaw, Shawn Faqua, Dremo, Charles Okocha, Segun Arinze, Sisi Yemmie, Diary of a Kitchen Lover, Ify Mogekwu, Timi Dakolo and Enioluwa, Gina Ojo, Aphro Dija, amongst others. There was also a visitation from the children of Festus Fajemilo Foundation; a non-governmental organisation, raising awareness about hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida.
The Guinness Book of Records attempt will be ratified after verification of proceedings by the Official World Record Office. This will include ensuring that the attempt is well-measured, standardised, and verifiable. The Cookathon was sponsored by My Food By Hilda, GB Foods; makers of Gino, Gino Max, Bama and Jumbo, Woodscope, Arla, Baigewallet, Filmhouse, Uber, Monty Suites and Culinary Arts Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAPA).