Hilda’s Cook-a-thon breaks a world record, attracts worldwide attention

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Hilda Effiong-Bassey, the “Nigerian Jollof Queen,” broke the Guinness World Record for longest marathon cooking by an individual two years after winning the 2021 regional culinary championship “Jollof face-off.”

Baci turned on her kitchen cooker at 4 p.m. on May 11, 2023, while the clock ticked “tock-tock, tick-tock,” and the timer began to count, signifying the start of an attempt to make history.

Hilda Effiong-Bassey, better known by her professional stage name Hilda Baci, a Nigerian chef, announced on April 19, 2023, that she wanted to compete in a category in which no Nigerian had ever competed. She became the second African woman to compete and attempt to beat a previous holder in “The Guinness World Record title for the longest cooking marathon by a single individual.”

In a previous news conference, Bassey said, supported by her crew, that she would cook a ton of Nigerian food for 96 hours straight.

It was going to be difficult, though, to surpass the previous record of 87 hours, 45 minutes of non-stop cooking set in 2019 by Chef Lata Tondon from the small village of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, India (as verified by GWR).

Rickey Lumpkin of the United States of America’s previous record of 68 hours 30 minutes 01 seconds was beaten by Tondon, known as the “Iron Lady” in 2019.

Over 20,000 visitors, including orphanage children, people with disabilities, and elderly people who attended the event, ate the food, according to a report by the Foundation for Investigative Journalism. Tondon, who is the first woman to hold the global title in 2019, is said to have cooked 1,600kg of food grains, 400 vada-pavs, 250 sandwiches, and other food items for four marathon days.

When she urged her fans to buy over 17,000 young trees and plant them to preserve nature, the chef demonstrated her environmental activism.

Maliha Mohammed became the first African woman to attempt to break the GWR records for a cooking marathon before Bassey, a chef from Kenya.

Mohammed, who was 36 as of 2019, worked with a crew of 40 to surpass Rickey Lumpkin of the USA’s previous record of 68 hours 30 minutes 01 seconds.

Mohammed prepared a variety of regional and foreign dishes, according to the online newspaper Standard Media. She couldn’t break a record, though.

Bassey, a psychology graduate who is 27 years old, started working on her attempt to beat the Guinness record five years ago.

The quest to shatter the world record initially began as a “claim to fame” for the well-known content provider and cooking instructor. Hilda, a chef’s daughter, revealed at a press conference held in Lagos prior to the competition that she had grown up with a deep obsession for the Guinness World Records book and a strong desire to have her name listed in it.

At the cook-a-thon that took place at Amore Gardens in Lagos, Bassey displayed her culinary talents.

The effort at a cook-a-thon was streamed live on Instagram and Youtube.

Bellanaija claims that Hilda, who launched the Cookathon on its first day and prepared food on a kitchen set protected by a glass frame, wasted no time in captivating the crowd. Hilda demonstrated her culinary range by skillfully preparing a delicious array of regional specialties, including Party Jollof, Coconut Rice, Native Rice, Peppered Fish, Turkey Stew, and more.

She is permitted to work with one helper at a time and has the option of taking a five-minute break every hour or it’s equivalent across several hours.

Friends and famous people showed up to support her on the first day of the cook-a-thon, including Seyi Awolowo and Elozonam from Big Brother Naija.

To assist Baci, there were also other well-meaning Nigerians present.

According to Pulse.ng, two of the highlights from the cook-a-thon were a speech from Baci’s mother at 47 hours, when Baci needed inspiration, and the yoga session that Tobe Ifeanyi led on the morning of the third day. Her mother who is the owner of Calabar Pot in Abuja is a renowned cook in her own right.

A group of traditional Efik dancers showed out to encourage Hilda after 58 hours of the cook-a-thon and were dressed in traditional dancing attire. After 64 hours of her attempt, Baci had prepared over 110 dinners and served more than 2,795 people.

On Monday at 7:45 a.m., Baci eclipsed Tondon’s previous record.

Hilda was on track to set a 100-hour record on Monday afternoon after exceeding the initial 96-hour goal.

While responding to Nigerians’ tweets on Baci’s accomplishment, Guinness World Records noted that it would review her attempt before formally recognizing her.

Following carefully the live happenings on social media, an influx of Nigerians came to the location of the cook-a-thon to watch Baci smash this record and thousands more.

Babajide Sanwoolu, the governor of Lagos state; Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa-Ibom state; Tiwa Savage, a well-known musician; Spyro; and Thabang Mazibuko and Tsatsii Madiba, former housemates from Big Brother Titans, among others, were present to show their support and awe for Baci’s endeavor.

Gina Ojo of “Diary of a Kitchen Lover” and other food bloggers and influencers were present to support Baci.

Additionally, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), sent her congratulations. Baci was praised by Buhari for bringing attention to Nigeria.

“President Buhari lauds the young culinary expert for turning her talent and passion into a career, with a rippling effect on the economy as she runs a restaurant in Lagos, trains other talents on entrepreneurship, and now leads the world in resilience, perseverance, and consistency in cooking,” read a statement from the President’s Special Advisor on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Monday.

Similarly, the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, as well as the governor of Akwa-Ibom state, Udom Emmanuel, have sent her words of congratulations.

So far, food and beverage companies have continued to contact her. After all, everybody loves a  good winner.

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