EXCLUSIVE: Bake off star talks to the Asian Express
Nadiya talks highlights and struggles in the UK’s most famous kitchen
From prestigious ‘Hollywood handshakes’ to the odd ‘wobbly bottom’, this year’s Great British Bake Off once again proved to be the UK’s favourite show, drawing in figures of over 14 million for the grand final.
After five delicious weeks, and the elimination of nine contestants, it was Leeds’ own Nadiya Hussain who eventually clinched the renowned Bake Off title from hosts Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
Now, as she ponders what to cook up next in her life, the nation’s favourite baker has taken time out of her busy schedule to catch up with the Asian Express newspaper.
Q. Firstly congratulations on your success, when you first entered did you think you would make it all the way?
A. Thank you so much. When I first entered I never imagined I would do so well. Every week I was in the tent, I felt like I was leaving that week. I never imagined making it past week one so getting to the final was the unlikeliest event in my life.
Q. What has been the highlight of the series for you?
A. The whole experience was a massive highlight for me but I have to say the Hollywood handshake was a moment that I will not forget in a hurry. Paul seems to be very selective when handing these out. So getting one felt like being initiated into an exclusive Hollywood handshake club.
Q. What was the hardest moment for you?
A. The hardest moments for me were the weeks when I got lowest in the technical. The technical felt like my Achilles heel, so every time I did badly I believed I would be out.
Q. How did you feel going into the final episode?
A. The final episode felt like a bit of a blur. There was an eerie, calm concentration in the air, which was unsettling and relaxing in equal measures. But it was all too real, that these were to be our final bakes and I know, at least for me, it felt like I had won just being in the final.
Q. How have you changed since the first episode? Are you more confident in your abilities in the kitchen?
A. I have always been confident in the kitchen with my cooking and baking. I am confident in my abilities within the confines and comfort of my family’s bosom. So bringing all these skills domain made me really rather nervous. Having baked and cooked now on the show, I feel more confident as a baker and as a person.
Q. People have loved seeing your personality blossom on television, with some memorable faces, how have you enjoyed this reception?
A. I have been overwhelmed by the reception of the kind people in the UK and all across the globe. I never imagined my facial expressions or personality would capture anyone, but it’s safe to say it has been one of the most enjoyable receptions I have ever received.
Q. Who is your inspiration in the kitchen?
A. My family are my inspiration in the kitchen. They are the reason I take joy in everything I produce because everything I do make is always so well received (apart from a bake that had lavender in it!). It is the sheer joy on their faces that inspires me to bake every single day.
Q. You have been praised as a Muslim role model, how does that feel?
A. I have been praised as a Muslim role model and that is such a wonderful thing. What I do hope I can inspire people to do, is to believe in their own abilities and believe that dreams can become reality, through hard work, determination and simply believing that they can.
Q. What would you say to anyone thinking about applying for next year’s bake off?
A. Take lots of pictures of all your bakes, practice profusely and get that application in. As my wise husband said to me last year, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’.
Q Finally, what does the future hold for Nadia?
A. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, what I am sure about is that I want to continue to do what I love most, cooking and baking. I will continue to work hard and go through every door that is opened for me. I may even unlock a few doors myself.