Hilda Baci: Nigerian chef ready to poach world cooking record


A Nigerian chef has become a national sensation after cooking non-stop for more than 90 hours in an attempt to break the world record.

Hilda Baci has used over 100 different dishes since turning on her cooker at 15:00 GMT on Thursday.

Politicians and celebrities have been egging her on, as has the boisterous crowd watching her cook.

The current record is 87 hours and 45 minutes set in Rewa, central India in 2019 by Indian chef Lata Tondon.

Guinness World Records says it is reviewing the evidence before saying if she has broken the record.

Though no officials of the organisation are at the venue in the upmarket area of Lekki in Lagos, CCTV cameras have been installed to monitor the event.

Baci, 27, initially planned to cook for 96 hours – until 15:00GMT on Monday.

But the crowd camped outside the venue persuaded her to keep going until she hit the 100-hour mark.

She has cooked mostly Nigerian meals, such as jollof rice, as well as different types of rice and pasta, and has also made akara – a popular street food made from deep-fried mashed beans. The food is being handed out to invited guests.

She is allowed one assistant at a time, and can take a five-minute break each hour, or the equivalent over several hours.

“This attempt is proof of the strength young people can exhibit with the right platform and support,” the chef told BBC News Pidgin before starting her marathon cooking session.

Baci is showing visible signs of the physical exertion and is getting cold compresses applied to her head, and foot massages during her breaks. A medical assistant is also checking her vital signs.

Her attempt has captivated the country, with politicians and celebrities stopping by to cheer her on.

Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was at the venue on Sunday, and she also received a call from Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

“We are proud to have Hilda embarking on this journey in our state. I will continue to follow the updates and look forward to the final declaration,” Mr Sanwo-Olu said.

Baci is no stranger to the heat of competitive kitchen events. In 2021 she defeated other contestants at the maiden edition of the “Jollof Faceoff”, including a Ghanaian rival in the final, to claim the crown for the best version of West Africa’s fiercely contested spicy rice meal.

She said her passion for cooking was inspired by her mother’s culinary techniques and that her recipes were homemade.

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