Nadiya Hussain received a bouquet of flowers, a cake stand, and a whole new profession after winning the Great British Bake Off in 2015.
Since the conclusion, which was watched by over 13 million people, making it the most-watched show of the year, the 38-year-old has become the series’ most popular export, owing in part to her outstanding facial expressions, and she hasn’t stopped working.
Unfortunately, Nadiya does not have much time to dwell on her own experience. ‘I’m never going to set restrictions on myself ever again,’ she says in her victory speech. ‘I’m never going to say I can’t do it,’ she says, her emotive proclamation making her wistful.
‘It takes me right back to that moment. I get a trembling lip,’ she admitted.
‘Anybody who watched my show from start to finish come on that journey with me, and it’s something that I think lots of people resonated with. I think lots of people know it was less about baking and more about me as a person.’
Despite not watching current episodes (Nadiya has offered many reasons for not watching, including the advert breaks when it relocated from BBC to Channel 4, being busy, and knowing too much about the BTS), there is something that might pull her back.
‘I don’t watch now but I may have a sneak peek this year because Alison Hammond is on it.’
She continued: ‘I think she’s an amazing presenter. She’s got a lot to give, and she will bring something very new and fresh to the show. It’ll be lovely to watch that.’
Many fans would love to see Nadiya join Alison in the tent that made her famous. Could she see herself as part of the GBBO family? ‘I’ve never been asked, but never say never. Who knows,’ she teased.
‘If there was an offer maybe I’d do it. It depends where I am in my life, if it’s something I want to do, or not want to do. I’m not saying no, but I’m not saying yes.
‘I would probably have to be a judge as I’d be an awful host because I would want to taste everything and get involved in the assessing. I would struggle not to.
‘I am who I am because of everything that happened after Bake Off. Apart from when I’m really anxious, I’m generally quite confident.
‘If I was participating now, I would be a lot louder.’
Simple Spices, a BBC six-part series with a companion cookbook that celebrates Bangladeshi food and is a love letter to the ladies who taught her how to cook, is her most recent endeavour.
‘This felt like a good time to focus on my Bangladeshi heritage,’ she told us.
‘The eight spices that we use are ones that I’ve cooked with for my whole life, and I wanted to show that it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s what my sisters use, my mum and my grandma.
‘I don’t often get to showcase and celebrate them, so this is for them.’
‘My mum and grandma always made cooking look so easy,’ she fondly told us.
‘They were feeding huge families, 20 people, and I’ve taken that from them too – I don’t sweat when I’m cooking for lots of people, I love it.’
Her impressive culinary skills are not the only things she’s inherited from them.
‘They’ve taught me resilience. They are so hard-working, and such grafters, which is inspirational, especially in a society where women are seen as second best to men.
‘My nan is ancient, but she’ll still always find things to do. They don’t sit for a second.’
The work ethic is a product of her upbringing and the joy she still feels every time she is able to get in the kitchen.
‘There are days when I get super tired but I don’t ever hate it,’ she explained.
‘I will always love being in the kitchen. And the days where I’m out and about and I’m not cooking very much I get really itchy hands.
‘Today, I’ve not been in the kitchen so I’ll have to go home and make an omelette or something. I will get out the chopping board.’
It’s about more than just food for Nadiya, she finds peace in the activity: ‘I feel focused when I’m in the kitchen, but I’m scattered outside of it. It stops my mind from running wild. It’s a mindful activity, If I have a problem, or I have a situation I’m worried about then I’ll usually find the solution whilst cooking.’
Nadiya may have cooked a cake for the late Queen Elizabeth II and written nine cookbooks, but she also adores pickled onions and peanut butter.
In truth, she is not a picky eater and would be OK with boiling potatoes if someone else prepared for her.
‘Nobody cooks for me because they’ll think I’ll be critical – I won’t,’ she promised.
She quickly added: ‘Maybe the potatoes could be seasoned though’.
If she needs someone to serve up seasoned carbohydrates, she has a few options: her husband Abdal Hussain, whom she never bothers when he’s cooking in order not to stress him, or the three tiny chefs who live in her house: Musa, 17, Dawud, 16, and Maryam, 13.
‘They’re amazing cooks, and my little girl is a really good baker. She makes the best cookies,’ the mum-of-three proudly declared.
They will not, however, be following in the footsteps of other TV chef’s children, such as Gordon Ramsay‘s daughter Matilda, who has her own CBBC programme, or Jamie Oliver’s son Buddy, who has apparently scored his own culinary show.
‘They definitely are not going to do what I do,’ Nadiya stated. ‘They don’t love the amount of time I’m away from home but they do cook and that for me is good enough.’
It’s a difficult world to navigate for your children, and Nadiya herself isn’t sure where she finds the confidence to survive in show business.
‘There are moments where I feel really, really confident and times when I don’t and I can’t really pinpoint when, why, or how. When I can celebrate my hard work, and not be so critical I do,’ she explained.
‘It is tough because ultimately everything I do will always be met with praise but also criticism.’
Nadiya is at the top of her game, but she hopes that more individuals from ethnic minorities will join her one day.
‘We’ve got a long, long, long way to go with representation. You can see that people are trying to make changes and they are happening. It’s really tough because sometimes that comes with criticism. People will say, “Why is it an all-black cast of presenters?’”
‘You can see this kind of commentary that’s negative. You think well actually, why can’t we live in a world where the colour of your skin doesn’t matter? Why can’t you just act or present or cook? It’s almost like we have to stop making a thing of it and we just have to do it.
‘As I said, we have a long way to go,’ she concluded.
By hiring people from ethnic minorities, the TV personality is helping to advance the cause.
‘For the cookery shows we make sure we try and get somebody from an ethnic minority group and give them an opportunity to get into the industry,’ she shared.
‘As a team, we will pay a wage that means this person can comfortably work in the industry so they get a leg up.’
Nadiya’s Simple Spices airs on Wednesday 27th September at 8pm on BBC Two. Nadiya’s book of the same name (published by Penguin Michael Joseph, £26) is out now.
Source My Celebrity Life.