Hilda Bassey Effiong is a 27-year-old Akwa-Ibom-born chef fondly called Hilda Baci. She was recently certified as the Guinness World Record (GWR) holder for the longest cooking marathon. Baci cooked for 100 hours but was awarded 93 hours and 11 minutes by GWR. In this interview with TheCable Lifestyle’s PELUMI BOLAWA, Baci speaks on life after the cook-a-thon.


At what point did you decide you were going to do cooking full-time?

Hilda Baci: It was in 2020. Well, honestly, I have been cooking pretty much my whole life. Even when I was a presenter, a host, I was hosting a cooking show. So, in terms of cooking, it is something I have always known I want to do, I am good at doing, and I like to do well. In terms of now making it into a business, which is when people would now say I started doing it professionally, it was 2020. Because again, I was chasing other things. I was trying to be an actress while I was also presenting. I even worked 9-5 jobs. 

So, I did other things before I now got down to it and said, you know, let us just get into this business for real.


When did you start nurturing the idea of attempting the Guinness World Records?

Cook-a-thon, sex-a-thon… meet Hilda Baci’s ‘heirs’ attempting to break GWR

Hilda Baci: Well, I had the idea before that time (2020). Five years ago was when I thought about it. That is the first time I told my brother about it. ‘Imagine if someone cooks for a long time’. I also remember pitching it to the owner of the station, I had my show on DSTV. And I told him about the idea. This was about maybe three to four years ago. So, a lot of things had to happen. 


I had to grow as a person. I had to build a business. So, five years ago, I thought about it. Two years ago, I decided that I am actively now going to prepare for it. Then eight months ago, I pretty much spoke to someone, started putting a team together, and now started planning for the actual event. 

With the success of the cook-a-thon, do you nurse thoughts to attempt another GWR?

Hilda Baci: I mean, to the best of my knowledge right now, I do not intend to attempt another record. At least, it is not something I am thinking about. Because again, this was not something I just woke up and decided to do. It took a lot of thought and planning. It was a huge investment.

So, in terms of now making it (support) into something, I want to make the ‘cook-a-thon’ turn into more like a festival that happens in probably in different countries. That is something I am open to. I am now reaching out to these brands, and saying, ‘Oh, we have worked on this before’. Now, this is something that I am trying to do.


But if you are asking about attempting another record. No. Because this took a lot out of me but it was worth it. You know, putting these many people together. So, having it on a scale like this get lots. So to do something like that, again, I do not know if I am willing to. 

Hilda Baci

After the cooking marathon, what is next for you?

Hilda Baci: So, obviously, I already have a fast food restaurant. I am pretty much working on opening a bigger space and expanding to different countries. I am working on the cookware line as well as a book. I teach. So, I have an online class that I am pretty much gearing up for as well. 


There are a few brands that I am in talks with. We are working on a documentary as well. Because I feel like it was important that people must see all this. I feel like it is important that people actually see the process because it is honestly a very beautiful story. It is a very informative process. Just how everything came together and how it turned out. I think more people deserve to see that holistically, not just little clips on social media. 

How do you feel seeing different people rise to challenge your record?

Honestly, it feels so good, because it just tells me that I did something very powerful. Because people had attempted the records before. Not just in Nigeria, but in different countries as well. But then, this was such a huge movement. I am still experiencing how powerful this was. I did not experience the trends in real time. I was going through my own wave of emotions and drawing from every other people’s strength.

Again, it just tells me that, if there was ever a doubt in my mind, it was definitely God speaking to you and definitely what He wants me to do. Because it just opened up an entire space. A lot of people now are very inspired. Trying to push through their limits. In terms of what is publicised or more people that are trying the Guinness World Records, I know that a lot of people are pushing through their limits in other aspects. Some pursue their dreams just from seeing this. I feel like other people have been inspired to do other things that are really powerful and are true to them as well. So, it makes me feel good.


How do you react to people’s perceptions of your fashion sense?

Hilda Baci

Hilda Baci: I am lying to you if I say I do not think about it. Sometimes, I am concerned and be like ‘why are you guys doing this?’ But the truth is, I am true to myself. 

One of the reasons why I wanted to do this, put in that much effort, and that much time into preparing was because it was important for me to let people know that you do not necessarily have to conform to whatever limitations or societal expectations that have been set out there for you. 

I do not have to look a certain way to be good at what I do– to be smart, have something upstairs, something to offer to be successful. That is the perception. And that is why a lot of women do not feel like they can express themselves through fashion and then still be capable of killing it in the corporate world, the business industry, or the food industry.

The thing is that you can be all these things and so much more. Because here I am, a 27-year-old, I love fashion, I like to look good. Thank God, I am very beautiful as well. I own those things. I am not going to apologise for that. Because in truth, all these elements are what makes me who I am right now. 

The fact that I am all these things does not reduce what I am capable of offering. It does not take away from the fact that I actually stood on my feet for 100 hours. It does not take away from the fact that an amazing team of people putting something that is amazing together, it does not reduce my qualifications or my values. I am still the one putting in the work. I still like to live my life as well, because it is who I am. And I am not going to apologise for it. So when I see these things, I am like, they will talk. Over time they will get used to it.

So, how do you deal with fame now?

Hilda Baci

Sometimes, I actually pinch myself. I think my first realisation of that was not even right after the cook-a-thon. It was when I traveled for the inauguration. The reception I got and just going out. The feeling was good. It can be a bit overwhelming. But again, it feels good. I cannot say I did all these so that I do not get recognised. I am enjoying it.

What are the challenges you face now? 

It is just dealing with a lot more deliverables now. I think that is the most challenging thing. Just knowing that I have a lot more work. So you know, to whom much is given, much is expected. And just finding time to navigate all through that without losing myself in the process. That one is a good trait for me. It makes this a bit easier. I like to be busy. I like working and thinking. I just like having things to do that are productive. So, I guess that works for me. 

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