Why Bake Off's Nadiya Hussain is living the dream

Why Bake Off's Nadiya Hussain is living the dream

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Friday, 17th March 2017
Nadiya Hussain in The Chronicles of Nadiya (Credit: BBC)

The Great British Bake Off’s break out star Nadiya Hussain is quick to dismiss any comparisons between the BBC’s new cooking extravaganza and the baking show that shot her to stardom.

“It’s a totally different beast,” she insists.

The Big Family Cooking Showdown, which is presented by Hussain and Zoe Ball, pits 16 families against each other in weekly culinary crusades, judged by chefs Rosemary Schrager and Bruno Locatelli.

“It’s about family cooking and different cultures. There’s baking involved depending on who wants to bake,” she explains.

The ten-part series is due to launch in the autumn.

“The contestants are from different cultures, different backgrounds, different generations. We have got three generations in one show. The dynamics are so interesting,” she says. “I can’t wait for people to watch it because I think [they] will love it.”

The 32-year old baking star was speaking ahead of the RTS Programme Awards, where she was nominated in the Breakthrough category for her work on BBC show The Chronicles of Nadiya alongside Fleabag writer and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge and documentary-maker Philip Wood.

“I’d never expected to be nominated,” she laughs. “I’m not fiercely competitive. I just toddle along and do what I enjoy.”

“Sometimes I’ll meet people who’ll say ‘You’re everywhere.’ I’m not really everywhere. I’m mostly in my house testing recipes.”

Recipes, she says, that will feature in her upcoming eight-part series, Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, that will hit our screens this summer.

“It’s my take on British food,” she explains. “I’m going around the country and meeting farmers and lots of different people – innovators, people who have taken simple ingredients and made new and interesting things.

“And then, at the end of it, I usually get to eat lots of cake. That can’t be bad, can it?” she laughs.



The cook-turned-presenter has embraced her new hectic schedule.

“I love the fact that I can do all of these things, and literally the second my kids walk through the door, I put everything down and we just play card games, and they’ll go to bed, and I’ll start up again,” explains the mum-of-three.

“Many months ago, somebody asked my son, ‘What does your mummy do?’” Hussain recalls. “He said, ‘She lives her dreams.”

However the road has been far from smooth for Hussain, who has been open about her anxiety.

“The only reason I went on Bake Off was because I suffer with Panic Disorder and needed something to get me out of the house.”

She recalls, “I’d never been on a train on my own, or in a taxi. Never been on the Underground in London. Imagine, for somebody who’d never done anything like that, I was travelling to Manchester, to London, to Newbury. I was filming, and every single week I was struggling.”

“Even if I was kicked out at Week One, I think I’d have walked away a very different person. I battled so many demons just getting through the audition process.”


However Hussain made it through all 10 weeks of the process, going on to lift the Bake Off trophy, and has since fronted her own series The Chronicles of Nadiya, which sent her to Bangladesh to rekindle her relationship with her family and her culture.

“Going to Bangladesh without my husband, without my children was the scariest decision I ever made,” she recalls. “I went out there and it was 42 degrees, and [went] fishing with otters. I thought, what have I done! It was the best thing I ever did.”

She is still getting used to being recognised however, and she has many stories of being spotted in unexpected places.

“I was in the gym and this lady was undressing. She [said], ‘You look like that girl off Bake Off’. I said, ‘You know what? Let’s have this conversation once you’ve dressed.”

Another time she remembers a knock on her toilet cubicle door and a voice asking ‘Are you Nadiya from Bake Off?’

“I did not know what to say,” she exclaims: “I’m kind of in the toilet right now…”

“She said, ‘OK, I’ll just wait for you outside.’ I’m a toilet-shy person. That was not fun!”

Nadiya Hussain was nominated for the Breakthrough Award at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Philip Wood. 

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The Great British Bake Off’s break out star Nadiya Hussain is quick to dismiss any comparisons between the BBC’s new cooking extravaganza and the baking show that shot her to stardom.