Cake connoisseur Nadiya Hussain first made headlines when she snagged first place in the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off. And it seems that no one was more surprised by the victory than Hussain herself. Lest we forget the moment she uttered the memorable and endearing phrase, “I am so excited I am going to streak.”
But the sky was only the limit after that one victory. According to Hussain’s professional website, since winning The Great British Bake Off in 2015, Hussain has gone on to author two cookbooks, a children’s cookbook, and a novel. She also managed to star in many food-based television projects. Clearly, Hussain is very busy… and she makes no apologies for it. “I am [a] firm believer that nothing is forever. I want to believe I will do this forever. But for everyday that I do it I will treat it like it’s my last, with gumption, with energy and with love,” she penned in the “About Me” section of her site.
But besides being a food prodigy and having a seemingly endless supply of energy and hutzpah for days, what else is there to know about Hussain? Keep reading to find out some lesser-known details about this celebrity chef.
Nadiya Hussain is the daughter of an immigrant
Nadiya Hussain quickly shimmied up the ranks after her victory on The Great British Bake Off series, and she’s representing second-generation British folks just like her. During an interview with Irish News, Hussain opened up about what it was like to be raised by immigrant parents and how she carried that into her life and her projects, including a documentary aptly titled Nadiya’s American Adventure.
“As a British Bangladeshi woman, born and raised in Britain to immigrant parents, being British wasn’t important to my parents, but understanding our Bengali roots was,” she explained. When asked what she was able to take away from making the documentary Hussain had this to say: “Immigration has changed the food landscape in a way we don’t really even realize. When people move and set up home in foreign lands, it becomes their home and with them they bring a wealth of knowledge, culture and of course food.”
Hussain is quick to admit that while she seeks comfort in her family’s recipes, she’s also allowed herself to become immersed in British fare. “As a daughter of an immigrant, I hold my recipes from my parents’ homeland dear to my heart, but also appreciate the recipes that being British has taught me,” she said.
Being a part of two worlds has meant I love nothing better than to fuse the two parts of who I am to create food that represents me! That is what immigration does — it gives us the freedom to fuse.”
Nadiya Hussain made a birthday cake for Queen Elizabeth
Nadiya Hussain is perhaps best known for her expertise in baking a mean cake! After all, she did manage to take home first place in The Great British Bake Off by wowing the judges with an exquisite wedding cake that rivaled works of art in museums.
So naturally, when an occasion called for a cake fit for a queen, Queen Elizabeth’s staff called in the big guns a.k.a. Hussain. As reported by NPR, Hussain’s knee jerk reaction after being asked to make Her Royal Highness’s 90th birthday cake was to say no. Luckily, however, she eventually came to her senses. “And then it dawned on me that I can’t say no to the queen. So once I got over the nerves, I thought, well, actually this is such an honor, how can I possibly say no?” she asked herself. And the rest is pretty much history.
Hussain opted to make the queen “an orange drizzle birthday cake with orange curd and orange buttercream.” Orange you glad she rose to the challenge? As it turns out, Hussain’s glad she did too. Per Heart, she not only got to hand-deliver the birthday cake and speak with the queen, but she also had the opportunity to meet Prince Phillip as well. “I didn’t know that Prince Phillip was there and he came over. The Queen introduced me to Prince Phillip and I was like ‘get in! you’ve made it now!'” she recalled.
Nadiya Hussain is in an arranged marriage
Baking beauty Nadia Hussain is happily married… in an arranged marriage. Yep, that’s right! During an interview with Good Housekeeping, Hussain spoke candidly about her family orchestrated nuptials at the ripe old age of 19. While she was adamant that she is happily married, she admitted that it was a challenge, especially at first.
“I had an arranged marriage, and learnt you have to persevere and remember we are all human and all have faults. Obviously my husband Abdal has more faults than I do! We had to live through the good and the bad, and have come out the other side. Love is strange… It creeps up on you and then smacks you in the face. I didn’t know my husband, and then we had two children, and then I fell in love with him,” she confessed.
In fact, the spouses are so smitten with one another that they even opted to renew their vows in December of 2018, per BBC. “Nothing fancy just love. No frills. Just us. We did it again. I do. I always will. I would do it all over again, ” Hussain shared on Instagram.
But it appears she has a different idea in mind when it comes to her own children’s marriages. “I don’t think [my children] need me to find them a husband or a wife. They will do a better job than I will,” she told Good Housekeeping.
Nadiya Hussain has experienced racism firsthand
Unfortunately, no matter how successful and illustrious a career Nadiya Hussain has carved out for herself, she is not immune to racism.
As reported by Us Weekly, amid the Black Lives Matter movement, Hussain took to Instagram to recount her own experience alongside a photo of herself showing off her hands. As it turns out, Hussain was once turned away from a hand modeling job as a teenager — simply because her hands weren’t white. “I’m sorry I didn’t know you were [B]lack,” was the response she received upon arrival. After reminding the interviewer that the ad never specified what color hands needed to be, the response was jarring. “Black hands don’t sell jewelry,” she was told.
Luckily, Hussain didn’t allow the ignorance and bigotry of one person to deter her from making all of her dreams come true. “I use my hands with pride and allow them to grace cookbooks and cookery shows, to hold my children’s’ hands and stroke their little faces, to cook, to feed… to hold!” she penned in the moving post.
She also confessed that she has since worked with none other than Swarovski Crystals as… you guessed it, A HAND MODEL! She wrapped the post with a call to action. “We need to start representing with our voices, with our eyes, with our thoughts, with our hearts and with our hands!”
When life gives Nadiya Hussain bananas, she makes banana tarte tatin
Almost everyone’s daily routine has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Nadiya Hussain is no different.
During an interview with Refinery29, the famous chef explained how her life has changed since the coronavirus reared its ugly head. And it turns out she’s not any different than other moms who suddenly found themselves scratching their heads while trying to figure out what to serve their children to eat morning, noon, and night. “The first couple of weeks, we were okay because we had meals in the freezer that I just needed to reheat. For me, my freezer’s my godsend. It’s the thing that keeps my kids alive in some sense because when I’m away, they know mommy’s cooked them meals,” she explained.
But did Hussain also hop on the banana bread wagon with the rest of the world? Well… sort of. Turns out she opted to make her own, albeit fancier, version of the classic. “Everyone’s been going mad on the banana bread. Everybody is making banana bread with their overripe bananas, which is great, but one thing I love to do with really ripe bananas is make a banana tarte tatin. You just need a block of ready-made pastry, sugar to make some caramel, some very ripe bananas, and some hazelnuts. That’s it. It’s about just taking simple things and making them into something a little bit spectacular,” she gushed. Hmm… making bananas into banana tarte tatin? Cheers to that!
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