Nigerian Chef Cooks For 100 Hours In Hopes Of Setting A New World Record

A 27-year-old Nigerian chef, Hilda Effiong Bassey, known on social media as Hilda Baci, has potentially set a new world record for the longest individual cooking marathon, according to Guinness World Records. At 8 p.m. on Monday, May 15, CCTV cameras at Amore Gardens, an outdoor venue in the state of Lagos, Nigeria, captured Baci completing 100 hours of nonstop cooking of Nigerian cuisine in an attempt to beat the existing world record of just over 87 hours. Baci's feat was also witnessed by a crowd of live and ardent supporters, which included the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, various Nigerian celebrities, and religious leaders, as well as scores of the ambitious chef's fans.

Officials from Guinness World Records were not present at the venue but were aware of Baci's intentions to break the existing record and are apprised of her having completed the task. As a Guinness spokesperson noted on Tuesday, May 16, the organization is "looking forward to receiving the evidence," and when it does, it will be in a position to "confirm the record is official" (per Guinness World Records). 

Baci, whose original plan had been to keep going for 96 hours,  began cooking at 3 p.m. GMT on Thursday, May 11. Over the course of the eventual 100 hours she spent cooking, she made more than 100 meals, using more than 55 recipes. Although she experienced moments of doubt, her goal of bringing global attention to Nigerian cuisine apparently kept her going.

Baci's feat was a labor of love for Nigerian cuisine

"The first day was the most difficult. I was ready to give up 6 hours in," Baci told CNN after completing her potentially record-breaking 100 hours of individual cooking. "I feel like a miracle happened and somehow I got to this." The next major turning point came when Baci hit 87 hours and 45 minutes of cooking. That was the existing world record, which had been set in 2019 by Indian chef, Lata Tondon. It was at that moment that Baci resolved to continue cooking beyond her original goal of 96 hours, for a total of 100. Tondon sent moral support Baci's way via Instagram on Monday, May 15. 

CNN notes that Baci appeared to be enjoying herself as she persevered — notwithstanding more than four days of no sleep. Apparently, Baci is a veteran of cooking competitions, having participated in — and winning the grand prize — in the first Jollof Face-off Competition, which took place in 2021. But this competition was apparently a true labor of love, inspired by her emotional connection and appreciation for Nigerian cuisine.

"Nigerian food is such comfort food ... the best out there," Baci explained. "The more recipes are propagated, the more people will be willing to try it." If you're interested in trying it and are in the New York City area, award-winning chef, Kwame Onwuachi's Upper West Side restaurant, Tatiana, serves Nigerian-inspired cuisine.