After a one-month wait, Guinness World Records finally confirmed Hilda Baci as the new record holder for the Longest Cooking Marathon by an Individual at 93 hours and 11 minutes, and making Idan the new buzzword.
Why Hilda Baci is the Idan
Hilda Effiong Bassey (Hilda Baci), the Nigerian chef, content creator and restaurateur, has given us the content of the year, and we are excited for her. It is such an extraordinary feat that she has accomplished, attempting to break a world record and surpassing it even more than she had anticipated. At this point, whenever anyone speaks of the strength of a woman, they will have to mention Hilda Baci’s name for context as the ‘Idan’ (Boss).
Hilda Baci is not new to competitions. The brilliant chef represented Nigeria in the Jollof Face Off competition between Nigeria and Ghana, held in 2021. She went up against Seyram Leslie Kumordzie of Ghana and emerged the winner of the $5000 grand prize, proof that Hilda takes no losses (Idan no dey carry last).
Hilda Baci wins the Jollof Face Off
Photo Credit: Jollof Face Off
When she set out to break a new world record, she did it in grand style as the first African woman to attempt it. Hilda was able to get Nigerians and people from all over the world to root for her through her determination to follow her dreams. Yes, cooking delicious meals non-stop for hours is back-breaking work, (I can’t even last for two hours in my own kitchen without starting a mutiny), and it is exactly what Hilda signed up for (Idan no dey fear).
A new record of 87 hours and 45 minutes was established in 2019 by Indian Chef Lata Tondon. However, Hilda blew past that mark at 7:46 a.m. on Monday, day four, clocking 87 hours and 46 minutes. In Charles Okocha’s voice, “Phenomenal woman,” and she wasn’t even done. Cooking, much less, a cookathon, is not for the fainthearted.
Hilda Baci and her right hand man Photo Credit: Hilda Baci
But Hilda, by all accounts, was more than ready (Idan no dey lose guard). She had been planning the event for quite some time, five years, to be exact, which is more than the years I spent getting my university degree.
That is quite some time to hold on to a dream. All those years, she had envisioned and anticipated the moment, and she took deliberate actions prior to the start of her cookathon to ensure that it went smoothly.
By the numbers, Hilda, who is currently 27 years old, has been pursuing her dream since she was 22 years old. She has had numerous opportunities to share with her followers what she hopes to accomplish, and many people have urged her on. Those people who stayed by her side all through the years are the real MVPs.
The start date was set for April 28th 2023, and the location was Amore Gardens in the Lekki Phase 1 area of Lagos, Nigeria. The event was moved to May 11, just a few days before D-Day, while the venue remained the same. Hilda gathered the best people to be on her team, and the buzz was on. She hired one of Nigeria’s finest set designers to help to create the perfect ambience and work area for the duration of the event. She also put out an ad for sponsorship, and brands like Arla, Domino’s Pizza, Gino, Uber, Filmhouse, and more came running to offer their assistance (Na dem dey rush Idan).
Hilda Baci cooking for several hours into her cook-a-thon
Photo Credit: Hilda Baci Cookathon
Hilda started cooking on Thursday by 4pm. In keeping with the true spirit of the saying that Nigerians are competitive, we saw a massive turnout of people. It is a rare occasion for Nigerians to share a common goal (except when the national football team is playing).
Celebrities, artists, and influencers did not sit this one out. This time, they were the ones famzing, as they posted motivational speeches on their pages, showed up and took pictures at the location, and updated their followers online.
From the east, west, north, and south, her supporters cheered her on from day one up till day four. And yes, Nigerians love food too, so she had a crowd of eager tasters (or eaters) who were fed for free by Hilda all day and night. The place was filled to capacity. Hilda pushed through the grueling hours with speculations that she had a mere 5 minutes break every hour, a total of 2 hours break every 24 hours, and a 30-minute break every six hours (Ah! Idan no dey sleep). Whatever it may be, the stamina to break a world record is just mind blowing.
Her efforts were live-streamed throughout the four days, and social media platforms were flooded with words of encouragement as people shared videos and pictures from the event. There was a live band at the location, dance groups came to perform, people were eating and dancing, and at some point we witnessed a praise and worship session. The height of the event was when the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, showed up with his entourage on the third day.
Hilda Baci’s cookathon was the perfect combination of a food festival, concert, political rally, and more.
Hilda Baci is the new record holder for the longest cooking marathon
Photo Credit: Hilda Baci
The whole country was brimming with pride and positive energy, and this is yet another reason why Hilda is a star. She has brought a much needed boost to the confidence of Nigerians and given the country global recognition.
Some people, mostly men, have seen this as an opportunity to call out women. Although it sounds humorous, it may be worth considering that Hilda may have raised the bar for what is considered “wife material.” Statements like, “If she cannot cook for 80 hours, it’s a red flag,” have been seen popping up all over social media platforms.
Shots are being fired at women who choose not to cook and women who demand that cooking be a shared responsibility between a man and woman in every household (I fall into this category). We may see lots of debates arise because of this, and perhaps there will be a dynamic shift in cooking roles.
Regardless, Hilda Baci deserves the title Idan for making history and making Nigerians and black women all over the world proud. Her feat has also sparked a cooking streak as no sooner than a few weeks after her cook-a-thon, news of some young cooks in different parts of Nigeria wanting to break her record have started popping up. Chef Dammy Adeparusi in Ekiti is one of them.