Ex­clu­sive In­ter­view With Nadiya Hus­sain

From cake mak­ing cham­pion to novelist, chil­dren’s au­thor and pre­sen­ter, there is no stop­ping The Great British Bake Off star Nadiya Hus­sain...

No. 1 Magazine - - CONTENTS -

I don’t stand here and think that I am go­ing to be do­ing this for­ever. For me I en­joy to­day, it’s about liv­ing for the mo­ment, I just love what I do.

Af­ter steal­ing our hearts (and our stom­achs) on the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hus­sain has gone from strength to strength. From TV shows and cook­ery books to fic­tion writ­ing, it seems there is noth­ing that the 33-year-old can’t do! We talk to her about her ap­pear­ance at the BBC Good Food Show in Glas­gow...

Do you still find in­spi­ra­tion at events like the BBC Good Food Show? Oh ab­so­lutely! These fes­ti­vals re­ally show what’s hap­pen­ing in food right now. I think that the way peo­ple eat has changed so much. You can go to a fes­ti­val like this and lit­er­ally travel the whole world in one show, that’s what I love about do­ing it, you can find so many types of food.

Where else do you look for recipe in­spi­ra­tion? For me, a lot of what I cook and write is about my fam­ily and their tastes, likes and dis­likes. Some­thing could be flavour of the month one day and not the next!

How does it feel to be on the line up for the show along­side the likes of Paul Hol­ly­wood? I have to pinch my­self, I can’t quite be­lieve it! I keep telling my hus­band that I’m re­ally lucky and he tells me that it’s not luck and that I’m good at what I do – I can’t quite be­lieve that my­self. It’s an hon­our and it’s in­cred­i­ble to be able to cook along­side such good cooks and great chefs. I like be­ing here and I like do­ing this and I hope I can do it for a very, very long time!

On your British Food Ad­ven­ture you vis­ited Scot­land, did you have a favourite place? We went to a re­mote part of Perthshire. I said to my hus­band that next sum­mer I want to spend a week in Scot­land and re­ally dis­cover and en­joy it prop­erly.

Do you like spend­ing time in Scot­land? I have only been maybe four or five times and it’s al­ways been for some­thing work re­lated. What I re­ally want to do is come to Ed­in­burgh and do the Christ­mas mar­kets, which I hear are amaz­ing! Do you think that the huge range of foodie op­tions can make peo­ple ner­vous about get­ting into the kitchen? I think if you don’t nat­u­rally like be­ing in the kitchen, it can be a lit­tle bit daunt­ing to be around so many cuisines and dif­fer­ent tech­niques. But for me, it’s not about the tech­niques, it’s about cook­ing with sim­ple in­gre­di­ents and mak­ing things taste de­li­cious with­out need­ing spe­cialised equip­ment or any­thing like that. That’s what I love about cook­ing and I don’t think you need to worry about the trends and what peo­ple are eat­ing, it’s about what you like and what you want to cook.

Do you have a recipe that you rec­om­mend for in­ex­pe­ri­enced cooks? I think a lot of peo­ple think cur­ries are daunt­ing but I think they’re a re­ally good place to start be­cause it’s ev­ery­thing in one pot, there’s no mess­ing around. I think any­thing with one pot, like a stew or a curry, is a good start­ing point. And if you want to learn how to bake but you are ner­vous around an oven, start sim­ple with some­thing like a tif­fin or a rocky road.

How do you de­scribe your own style of cook­ing? I think ex­per­i­men­tal and fu­sion. I’m not a big fan of stick­ing to tra­di­tional rules, even down to my mum’s cur­ries. I kind of mess around with all of her recipes and she doesn’t like that! But for me it’s about ease and flavour with­out cost­ing the world or tak­ing too much time.

Would you say that you pre­fer cook­ing to bak­ing? I have been cook­ing a lot longer than I have been bak­ing. Bak­ing is a re­lax­ing time for me, it’s when I get to re­ally un­wind but when I am cook­ing, it’s for my fam­ily mostly and it’s about bish, bash, bosh, get it done! It’s hard to pick but bak­ing is one of the things I love to do to re­lax so it prob­a­bly pips it to the post, just!

You have been do­ing lots of food writ­ing as well as pre­sent­ing – do you think your pas­sion lies there rather than in front of the cam­era? I think, luck­ily for me, my job al­lows me to do ev­ery­thing I love all in one. The cook­ing, the writ­ing and the bak­ing. The hard­est thing to learn was to present my­self when I do my own cook­ery shows, it’s taken me a few years but I ac­tu­ally re­ally like do­ing that as well. It’s a new skill I’ve learnt and I re­ally en­joy do­ing it.

Since The Bake Off you have been on an amaz­ing jour­ney, can you de­scribe what it has been like? Those 10 weeks of be­ing in the tent were sur­real, it al­most felt like it wasn’t real most of the time. It only re­ally be­came real when the pub­lic watched it. In the last three years my life has changed so dra­mat­i­cally, some­times I have to pinch my­self. With­out sound­ing mor­bid, the truth is that it’s here to­day, gone to­mor­row. For me it’s about en­joy­ing ev­ery mo­ment, I don’t stand here and think that I am go­ing to be do­ing this for­ever, I don’t. Ev­ery­thing has a sell by date. For me I en­joy to­day, right here right now. It’s about liv­ing for the mo­ment. It’s changed my life and I pray to God that I can do it for­ever but for now, I just love what I do.

What’s been the high­light of the last three years since The Bake Off? Bak­ing a birth­day cake for the Queen’s 90th birth­day – that was pretty spe­cial!

Who else would you love to cook for? David At­ten­bor­ough. I would have to ask him what he likes first, I feel like he might not like curry. I would love to cook for Mary Berry when she can’t judge me!

Do you test your recipes on your fam­ily? Yes, they are my big­gest crit­ics and they are bru­tally hon­est. That’s what I love about them. When I put some­thing in front of them and they don’t like it, they are very hon­est!

Do you have a go to fam­ily meal for when you are in a rush? Eggs are my favourite thing in the world. When they are re­ally hun­gry, a Span­ish omelette is the eas­i­est thing to do. But when I cook, I al­ways do dou­ble or triple amounts so that I make one meal to eat right away and then I can put two meals in the freezer. For ev­ery one meal I cook, I have al­ready saved my­self on two meals. Some­times I find my­self not cook­ing for weeks be­cause I al­ready have stuff in the freezer!

Why do you think it’s so im­por­tant for fam­i­lies to cook to­gether? We are so time poor now and we live such busy lives with busy jobs. This means that it’s re­ally hard to make time to cook and eat to­gether, which I think is re­ally im­por­tant. No mat­ter where I am, I try my very best to be home for din­ner. If I am late for din­ner, they’ll Skype me and I’ll sit and talk to them while they eat.

What are your store cup­board es­sen­tials? Al­ways eggs be­cause they are the ones that will save you in your time of need when you need to make some­thing quickly. I al­ways have eggs and my spice box – it’s the thing that gives ev­ery­thing flavour – and a de­cent olive oil, that’s it.

A piece of equip­ment that ev­ery home should have? I think every­body should have a mi­croplane. It’s such a cheap piece of equip­ment. I spent years zest­ing oranges us­ing a box grater and think­ing, this doesn’t add flavour to any­thing! And a sim­ple, cheap mi­croplane can add so much more flavour, you can zest any­thing so well!

Do you have more projects in the pipe­line? I have but things I can’t tell you about! I have been writ­ing my fic­tion novel and the sec­ond part of my first book is out in Jan­uary. Writ­ing is an­other thing that I love to do and I never imag­ined that I would be do­ing a fic­tion novel but I am very ex­cited about that. I take sit­u­a­tions from life in­clud­ing things that I have cooked and weave it into my books.

Will you be tun­ing into the new­est series of The Bake Off? I am not go­ing to be tun­ing in. What I am go­ing to do is record it and fast for­ward the ad­verts. Ad­mit it – ev­ery­one does it!

Nadiya will be ap­pear­ing at the BBC Good Food Show at Glas­gow SEC. The show runs from the 19th to 21st Oc­to­ber, find out more at bbc­good­food­show.com/glas­gow

Nadiya baked a cake for the Queen’s 90th birth­day

Nadiya with orig­i­nal Bake Off judge, Mary Berry

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