When she turned on the cooker at 4:00 pm on Thursday, May 11 in the high-brow Lekki area of Lagos State, there was only one thing on Hilda Bassey’s mind: to break the world record in the cooking marathon.
It was a goal she set for herself even before the boisterous crowd cheered her on to a historic cook-a-ton in Nigeria’s bustling commercial city.
“I am currently in the process of attempting to break a Guinness Book Record while setting a record in Nigeria because it has never been done here before,” the chef told Channels Television’s Rubbin Minds on March 14, two months before she became a national sensation.
Prior to embarking on this lofty goal, the record holder Lata Tondon cooked for 87 hours and 45 minutes in the Indian city of Rewa.
But for four days at the Amore Gardens in Lekki, the chef better known as Hilda Baci cooked over 100 mostly local dishes in her attempt to create a new world cooking record of 96 hours.
we're aware of this amazing record attempt, we need to review all the evidence first before officially confirming a record 💫 https://t.co/loGnAY8yKE
— Guinness World Records (@GWR) May 15, 2023
She broke the record on Monday and reached the 96-hour mark at 4:00 pm on the same day. The Guinness World Records, however, said it was still reviewing her feat.
“We’re aware of this amazing record attempt, we need to review all the evidence first before officially confirming a record,” the nearly 68-year-old institution tweeted in response to a query.
No official of the organisation was at the venue but the cook-a-ton was streamed on Instagram and YouTube.
Cheered on by the buoyant crowd who sat outside her windowed kitchen where history was made, defying rain and sun, the 27-year-old hit 100 hours just past 8 pm.
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Hilda got a five-minute break every hour to rest and was allowed to accumulate it over time. Medics attended to her during the intervals and she also got foot massages to keep her going.
Expectedly, her historic move has turned her into a social media and a national sensation. For days, she’s been among the top trends on Twitter with her story making headlines around the globe.
The country’s politicians and celebrities have in the wake of the development turned the venue into a Mecca of sorts.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State was among the first to storm the Amore Gardens — he did so on Sunday — where he extolled Bassey for her resilience and making the city proud.
I showed up to support Chef Hilda Baci, in her quest to break the Guinness World Record @GWR for the longest time spent cooking by an individual.
Her dedication, passion for cooking as well as her desire to put our rich culture on the map by not only exhibiting our food but… pic.twitter.com/R5qBP4U7wN
— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) May 14, 2023
“Her dedication, passion for cooking as well as her desire to put our rich culture on the map by not only exhibiting our food but also the resilience, determination, energy, and team spirit that has come to be known as the spirit of Lagos and indeed Nigeria is truly remarkable,” the governor said about the winner of the 2021 Jollof Faceoff.
His visit came almost at the same time that the Akwa Ibom native got a call from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
President Buhari on Monday also sent his regards to the chef while President-elect Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP)’s Peter Obi, governors, and other personalities have also lauded her for creating the record.
As millions wait for the official confirmation of the records, Chef Hilda Baci hopes her “bold step” will “tell some of the positive stories that come from Africa through the meals that we make”.