When Nadiya Hussain competed on The Great British Bake Off in 2015, it seemed like all of Britain — from self-proclaimed #Nadiyators to the prime minister — was rooting for her. Since then, she’s hosted TV shows, written best-selling books, and become a household name in the UK. But the transformation we focus on in this conversation is the one that has taken place within her. She talks with Dan about growing up in a British Bangladeshi family where no one baked, developing recipes based on the food she ate as a child, and speaking up about racism and sexism in food media.
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "Ya Gotta" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
- "Trippin" by Erick Anderson
- "Limon Coke" by Ken Brahmstedt
- "Slightly Carbonated" by Erick Anderson
- "Secret Handshake" by Hayley Briasco
- "Like Fire" by Jacob Gossel
Photo reprinted from NADIYA BAKES by Nadiya Hussain. Copyright © 2020 by Nadiya Hussain. Photographs copyright © 2020 by Chris Terry. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Link to purchase: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/670365/nadiya-bakes-by-nadiya-hussain/
Dan Pashman: Your latest cookbook, Nadiya Bakes, includes a recipe for this really old old English dessert called, syllabub. It dates back to the 1500s. It’s just cream, sugar, and some kind of citrus. But it’s not something you see that much of today. Why did you want to include it?
Nadiya Hussain: I look for things that I absolutely love and syllabub is one of those. You know, it's a really simple, sweet, tart, delicious dessert.
Dan Pashman: Yes.
Nadiya Hussain: And there's something magical happens where the citrus, the lemon juice, hits the hot cream and the hot sugar, where it instantly starts to thicken. And there's a lot of sugar and there's a lot of cream. And I'm not about the kind of less is more. You know what? If you if you want something that you love, then you go for it and you enjoy it.
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters. I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people. Six years ago, Nadiya Hussain was a 30-year-old stay-at-home mother of three living in northern England. Today, she’s an international cooking star, host of TV shows on the BBC and Netflix, and author of best selling cookbooks. In the U.K. everyone knows her simply as Nadiya.
Dan Pashman: Clearly, her world is different now, and I’ll talk with her all about how that happened. But I was most curious to hear not how her life has changed, but how she, herself, has changed. Nadiya was born in Luton, one of six kids in a British Bangladeshi family. Her father was a chef, who ran Indian restaurants. Her mother stayed home to raise the family. But while Nadiya was surrounded by her parents’ cooking, traditional Bangladeshi dishes are done on the stovetop, like a lot of Indian cuisine. Today, Nadiya is known for her baking, but when she was growing up, no one ever used the oven.
Nadiya Hussain: You had the stove top cooker. You have the grill on top and then you have the oven underneath. And my mom would store all her frying pans in there and I said, Mom, you can't like — when I went to school and I saw that my teacher had baked this cake. I said, "Mom, what's going on here? Because that's an oven. You bake with that." My mom's like, "I knew the whole time." I was like, "You've been lying to me, all this time?" So it was like a massive lie. I was like, Mom, you can't do that!
Dan Pashman: Right. did you know this cupboard heats up?
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah, this cupboard heats up, mom. There’s fire in here! And she was like, "What?!"
Dan Pashman: Nadiya’s first exposure to baking was watching Delia Smith on TV. Delia is like a British Ina Garten or Martha Stewart.
Nadiya Hussain: To me, it was very aspirational, kind of like — it was kind of like she bakes. And for me, I was a world away from that.
Dan Pashman: And I would imagine watching Delia was also a little aspirational in the sense of, you know, she's in this beautiful home, in the countryside, in a gigantic kitchen, you know, just like with a lot of American cooking shows, like you make assumptions about a person's lifestyle when you see that. And you’re like, oh, that looks like a pretty good life hanging out in the countryside in this palatial estate, baking cakes.
Nadiya Hussain: Exactly. So, yeah, for me, it wasn't — you know, I grew up, you know, in a terraced home. We had a train station behind our house. So there was nothing on television that I looked at and thought, "Oh, well, this is exactly my life," and it was nothing like it. So it was one of those things that felt completely, completely removed from what I was from what I was living.
Dan Pashman: But you had also said an interview growing up in a house where women cooked, you attached to direct negativity to cooking.
Nadiya Hussain: Yes, because I think for me, cooking was — the only people that really cooked in our — my dad cooked. He was amazing. My dad's an amazing cook, but he only cooked because he fancied being in the kitchen. Whereas, kind of for me, I always kind of grew up watching my nan slaving over the kitchen, my mum in the kitchen, and they were constantly cooking and it didn't look fun. It didn't look like they were enjoying it. It looked like they were getting in there to cook for their family. And it was in and out and that was it. And so my mom never encouraged us to be in the kitchen. She kind of never said, you've got to learn how to do this.
Dan Pashman: And so you took home economics. And as a teenager, that was when you first started baking and you were you were good at it. Your teacher suggested that you should go to catering college, you're good at this. There were these signs that maybe this might be a path for you. But I gather that at that point in your life, you were very resistant.
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Why?
Nadiya Hussain: My dad grew up running restaurants and so, you know, and that was often a job that lots of people did that often didn't have education. So when I said to my mom, I'd love to learn how to cook and go to maybe go to catering college or do some sort of kind of hospitality management. And my mom was like, absolutely no way. So, yeah, that was something my mom was completely dead against. Once my mom had said no, I kind of parked that away and thought, no, actually that's not for me. And then kind of steered myself in a different direction.
Dan Pashman: And you wanted to go to university?
Nadiya Hussain: Yes. So I think I'm actually quite academic. I love an exam. I love the idea that I learn something and someone tests me and says, let's see how much you've managed to absorb. I used to love exams in school and I did really well at high school and then applied for university. But essentially, that was one — another one of those things that my mom just said, "Absolutely, no way you're going to university." And that was like a massive hit for somebody like me, who was desperate to be the first to go to university, who kind of really valued education, especially because coming from a country where education isn't free, you know, it felt like such a waste to not go to university.
Dan Pashman: Why? Why was she against it?
Nadiya Hussain: I think for my mom, it was like asking her if I could go to space. That's how alien it was going to university, because as an immigrant, you know, going to university was me asking to do something that nobody in our family had ever done before, which is a shame for my mom, because actually I'm doing things that none of my family have ever done before now from, you know, for the last six years. So that scares the life out of her. She just says, "Don't tell me what you're doing. I don't want to know."
Dan Pashman: I'm curious to unpack that a little bit. I mean, I understand to a point, it's extremely foreign. It's not something that she grew up with or that she was familiar with that other people were doing. But I guess I'm a little surprised to hear you say that she still feels that way today with all your success. So why do you think that is?
Nadiya Hussain: As an immigrant I think a lot — they had a lot of firsts and there were a lot of kind of doing new things that were unfamiliar. And I think I suppose from her experience as a mom raising six children in a country that didn't feel like hers with a language that was foreign, I think for her, I think it scared her that it was my world and I was confident in it. And I think that's what made her really nervous. And I think because I now do this job, which was completely foreign to me six years ago, I think she thinks, "Well, how will — you don't know anything about it. How will you manage?" And I kind of always say to her, well, that's kind of life, Mom. Like, you don't always know what you're doing, but sometimes you have to learn.
Dan Pashman: Although Nadiya really wanted to go to university, her mother just wouldn’t allow it. This led to tension with her parents. She decided she wanted to leave home. As she writes in her memoir, “It was the only way I could be me. Even though I didn’t know who I was, I wanted to learn. But I wasn’t allowed to do that alone. I had to have a guardian. A husband could be my way out.”
Dan Pashman: So she and her family started the process of an arranged marriage. Nadiya talked and texted with her future husband, Abdal, for 6 months. She says that in that time, he became her confidant, and that she was able to tell him things she hadn’t told anyone else. She told her parents she wanted to marry him. The first time they met in person was on the day they were engaged. The next time they met in person was on their wedding day, when Nadiya was 20. She says a lot of people weren’t convinced it was a good match.
Nadiya Hussain: Within our community, there is a colorism that exists that lots of people don't talk about. You know, that's within our own ethnic group, there is colorism, just like lots of ethnic — lots of minority groups out there. If you have darker skin, it's kind of like — it's seen as a negative thing. So I remember kind of growing up being told constantly, you know, you've got dark skin. I don't know how I'm going to get you married. And I think that really put me off marriage to begin with. I was like, well, that kind of already written me off. But then my husband and I, when we got married, when we kind of we kind of got to know each other over six months, the stark difference between the two of us was that I was this little short, dark girl and he was this tall, Italian looking, fair guy with gorgeous dark hair. And they were like, that's not going to — how's that going to work? And it was so based on our looks that it was ridiculous. And my husband and I are kind of definitely almost feels like we're cut from the same cloth. We're quite stubborn. And we're like, oh, you know what? Let's prove all of them wrong, shall we? And that's what we did. For 16 years, our marriage has been based on proving people wrong.
Dan Pashman: Nadiya spent most of her 20s having and raising her three kids, cooking and taking care of the household. But she never gave up on her dream of getting a university degree.
Nadiya Hussain: I started my degree when I became pregnant with my third child and I studied the first year. It was really hard and I was like, oh my goodness, morning sickness, and studying while — then putting the kids to bed was a lot of work. When I was in labor with my little girl, I was revising for my exam, which was 10 days away.
Dan Pashman: You're studying while in labor?
Nadiya Hussain: Yes. I was like, I can do this. You know what? Give me all the drugs. Give me all of the drugs and I can do this revision. And I did. I had all the drugs and I then — I did my revision and then I had a child but both of us were then both on drugs. It was like, whoa. And it was amazing. Ten days later, there I was in my exam room doing my exam.
Dan Pashman: While she was working through her degree in social work, Nadiya also got more and more into baking. She discovered that she really loved baking cakes. And her husband? He loved eating them. And in the evenings, after the kids were asleep, they’d sit together and watch cooking shows, especially The Great British Bake Off. And one night sitting on the couch, Nadiya’s husband says to her:
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah, I think you could do that. And I was like, no, I don't think I can. And you know what the weirdest thing was, that he was — he'd been saying it for years and I didn't actually — you know, when you just don't listen, right?
Dan Pashman: Right.
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah, yeah. So, like, selective. I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I only listen to the bits that matter and everything else, forget that, forget that. And it was four days before the deadline and he — it was an online application and he filled out this online application and he said, "I think you should — I've done the boring bits. And if you could just do the kind of actual bits that require you to know about baking, could you do those bits?" And I said, "No way, not going to do it." And I said, "I'm only doing this to humor you." And he said, "Yeah, well, humor me then. Go on, go on, do it." And so I did it and I went at the time, the only reason he actually applied was because, you know, I had — I was suffering with anxiety in the worst way that I'd suffered with it for a really long time. And he just said, "I think you need to just do something for you. I think you need to just step out of the box and just not put me and the kids first. I think you need to do something for yourself."
Dan Pashman: For people who don’t — I mean, they shoot Bake Off in this sort of — it looks like an English castle in the countryside. The whole thing's in a tent in the garden or whatever. Like you get there, you're all by yourself. How are you feeling?
Nadiya Hussain: Well, it — um.... It was one of the most daunting things I've ever done. There I was, completely on my own. And, you know, now in hindsight, as I've gained also as I've gained my confidence, I should have slept. I had no children with me.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Nadiya Hussain: I should have enjoyed the sleep. And I didn't. And I didn't because I was too nervous to sleep. But it was the first time I'd done anything on my own. And although I was nervous, I found comfort in doing something that I enjoyed. And I could fully kind of engrossed myself in doing that.
Dan Pashman: I know you talked in your autobiography and in a lot of interviews you've been open about your struggles with panic disorder. Now, I'm not a professional, so what do I know? But as an ignorant layman, I would think that subjecting yourself to something as intense and stressful as a cooking competition television show might be the opposite of what I would expect you'd want to do.
Nadiya Hussain: It's ridiculous, isn't it? Nobody says, oh, well, you know, you're not great at the moment. Your mental health is suffering. Why don't we just stick you in the biggest baking show in the country, if not the entire world? Really when you say out loud, it is absurd. And it had a massive toll on my mental health. I'm not going to say that it was a walk in the park that I just kind of breezed through it. I absolutely didn't. I had more panic attacks during Bake Off than I've ever had in my life. It was one of the most emotionally, mentally, hardest, physically, hardest things I've ever had to do. And I suppose I kind of imagined in my head that I may make it through to week two. I was optimistic and thinking that I'd get to week four and to then get to week 10 to get to the final was completely — like it was a shock. Even for me, I was like, this is not like — it was ridiculous because I kept calling it week 10. And my husband kept saying, "It's the final, there's no week eleven. It's the final. You realize that?" And I was like, yes, but I don't want to call it the final because it just feels too final. You know, like I don't want to talk about that, I just want to call it week 10. And he kept saying, “There's no week 11…" and I'm like, "No!”
Dan Pashman: Coming up, in the Bake Off finals, Nadiya bakes a cake that embraces her own identity, and challenges what it means to be British. Then her life really changes. Stick around.
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Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. Hey, you want to win a copy of Nadiya’s latest cookbook, Nadiya Bakes? Sign up for our weekly newsletter now, and you’ll be automatically entered into this and all our giveaways. We just send one email a week. We'll give you some hot tips on what the Sporkful team is eating and reading, so you get great recommendations once a week. If you’re already on our list you’re already entered. If not, sign up by August 6th at Sporkful.com/newsletter. Okay, back to the show…
CLIP (SUE PERKINS): Bakers, welcome to your final challenge. No matter what happens today…
Dan Pashman: So you make it all the way to week 10, the final.
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah.
CLIP (SUE PERKINS): Now, what we would love you to make today is a classic British cake.
Dan Pashman: And you make a wedding cake.
Nadiya Hussain: Yes.
CLIP (MEL GIEDROYC): Two hours on the clock. On your marks.
CLIP (SUE PERKINS): and get set.
CLIP (MEL GIEDROYC AND SUE PERKINS): Bake.
Dan Pashman: That you wrapped in a red, white and blue sari, so it's a sari, but it's also the colors of the Union Jack.
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: That choice in itself feels like a statement.
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. yeah, I mean, when I think back to that, you know, I put a lot of thought into what really made that cake special for me. That was quite important for me to do something that meant something to me. Because when I got married, we didn't have, like a proper tiered wedding cake. We didn't have — we didn't have all the bells and whistles at our wedding. And I wanted this cake to represent everything about me. You know, I wanted to represent some of the layers that make me who I am. You know, when else am I going to make a wedding cake for myself? And it was, you know, to do a sari that's a traditional Bangladeshi dress for us. And then to do that in red, white and blue to represent the British part of me. So that was really important. It was really thought out something that was really important.
Dan Pashman: Right. I can see how it would be representative of you. It also feels, I guess, to me and maybe this is what was intended, but it felt like something of a statement because it felt like… British Bake Off is so British. They literally have Union Jack flags hanging around the tent and so many of the challenges are these very traditional bakes that have been around for many hundreds of years. And for you to do something in the colors of the British flag also felt to me like sort of like laying claim like this is my country, too.
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah, I suppose — growing up, straddling between the two worlds, being British, being Bangladeshi, you know, going to mainstream school, but coming home to an immigrant household. I never felt fully Bangladeshi, but equally, I never felt fully British. And those two parts of me, I think within both communities, there's a constant need to prove yourself. How Bangladeshi are you really? How British are you really? And to be able to do something that combined both of those things was, for me, pretty special. And it felt like a statement at the time because it was like, actually, I can do all I can do both of these things. And I'm quite comfortable to say, actually, there's a gray area somewhere in between all of these different worlds where those of us who don't really fit in anywhere, we get to fit in that world. And that's being able to take the best bits of both worlds and mixing them and making them one.
Dan Pashman: Despite Nadiya feeling like she didn’t completely fit into British culture, she was quickly becoming a fan favorite on the show. Her baking was outstanding, but also, her personality shone through. She just seemed very honest. She didn’t try to hide her nerves. After a judge would take a bite of one of her cakes and pause before delivering a verdict, the camera would often cut to Nadiya, whose eyes looked like they might pop right out of her head with anticipation. Buzzfeed even made a list of her best facial expressions. After a particularly intense challenge, she said "I’d sooner have another baby."
Dan Pashman: By the show’s finale, it seemed like the whole country was rooting for her. Her growing legion of fans named themselves, Nadiators. David Cameron, the prime minister at the time, said that he hoped she’d win. The Telegraph, a conservative daily paper, wrote, “Never before has a Muslim woman wearing a hijab been so clutched to the nation’s bosom.” 14.5 million people tuned in to the finale. It was the most watched program of the year in Britain.
CLIP (SUE PERKINS): Of course, that can only be one single winner. And so with real pleasure, the winner is Nadiya!
CLIP [NADIYA HUSSAIN): I'm never, ever going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I'm never going to say I can't do it. I'm never going to say, maybe. I'm never going to say. I don't think I can. I can. And I will.
Nadiya Hussain: You know, at the end, I remember — and everybody always says to me, "dDid you make that speech up? Did you write it?" And I said, absolutely no way. Those were the words that came from me, from the deepest, darkest parts of me. And they were almost desperate to come out. And those were the words that came out.
Dan Pashman: In the six years since then, Nadiya has gone on to host 8 TV shows and publish 12 books. And it’s not just all cooking. She wrote a memoir in which she talked openly about being bullied in school because of her darker skin, and being the target of sexual abuse by a friend of her uncle’s when she was just 5. She wrote three novels about Muslim sisters living in England, and a children’s book about dealing with anxiety.
Nadiya Hussain: My mom always says to me, “Are you done yet?” And I said, “I'm done with what, Mom?” And she just assumes that I'm on this jolly — I'm just out having a great time, which I am most of the time, having a great time. But I get to call it my work. And she's like, "Are you going to go home to the kids yet?" I'm like, "Mom, I'm still doing all of that." So for her, the two cannot coexist. You can't be a good wife and a good mom and have a career or a job. So for her, she's waiting for the day I get to go home and be with my kids. And they're teenagers. They don't care where I am. They want me at home as little as possible.
Dan Pashman: And I gather that nowadays at home, another difference from the way that you grew up, sometimes your husband is the one who serves you tea.
Nadiya Hussain: Yes. You know, that's not something that was natural growing up. Like my dad didn't make tea for my mom. You know, my uncles didn't make tea for their wives. It was very much the other way round. But we, you know, we don't have specific gender roles in our house. I haven't ironed for four years. You know, as much as I can cook, I can change a tire. So we have no gender specific roles in our house. We — and that's what I love about it. I love that we are making those changes in our homes because, you know, we both both, my husband and I, grew up in homes where there were gender specific roles and men didn't change nappies or make tea or look after their wives. Whereas, this is our home and everybody mucks in and everybody get stuff done. And ultimately, that's that's how we keep our home running.
Dan Pashman: Did your husband serve tea to your mom?
Nadiya Hussain: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: How does she feel about that?
Nadiya Hussain: Hates it. She absolutely hates it. So as he says, "Oh, I'll go make a cup of tea." She's literally kicking me under the table. Get up, get up And then I said, "No, mom. Just let him make tea. He makes tea for his parents. He makes tea for anyone who will come around. He'll make tea for my sisters," — get up. I'm like, "Nope, nope. I'm going to make you as uncomfortable as physically possible, mom.”
Dan Pashman: As we said, Nadiya’s father was a chef. He cooked in Indian restaurants when Nadiya was growing up. And she would ask him why his dishes were nothing like the food they ate at home. He told Nadiya that he cooked for Westerners, and that they weren’t ready for her mom’s korma. These days when Nadiya develops her own recipes for her cookbooks, she says, she also feels that pressure to appeal to the Western palate. But she resists it.
Nadiya Hussain: I test all my recipes at home and then they get sent off to a tester and the tester will always come back and say, that's too much salt, that's too much chili. I'm like, "No, no, no. That's exactly — that's fine as it is. Thank you very much." Everyone knows what chili taste like. It's up to them how they use it. And that's the whole point. You know, having learned from, like, my dad, who refused completely, he was like, no, we cook what is known as the western version of Indian food. I don't think that English people are ready to eat our version of food, my dad would say. And I was always like, Dad, I reckon you're not — we're onto something here. People need to taste Mum's cooking, like she should be running the kitchen. He was like, absolutely no way. And so I take pride in writing some of the recipes that I grew up with and putting them into my cookbooks.
Dan Pashman: Nadiya tries to create recipes that are authentic to her experience. Sometimes that means dishes she grew up eating at home. Other times it means dishes that exist in the same gray area between cultures that she does. Like a mango and coconut yogurt cake topped with german buttercream, or a saag paneer spanakopita, or a blueberry cake that uses the Bengali spiced flour dough, shinni.
Nadiya Hussain: When I showed my dad, “Dad, look. I did in my very first cookbook, I did the korma.” And my dad looked, he said, “And they let you do it?” And I said, “Yes, Dad. And they let me do it.” And he said, “Wow, that's really cool.”
Dan Pashman: How did that feel in that moment when your dad had that reaction?
Nadiya Hussain: Oh, it's amazing because me and my dad have this love-hate relationship where we're always kind of — we're always kind of one upping on each other, like constant. It's like, oh, I beat you to that. So we're quite competitive. So when I did that and he goes, [LAUGHS] I remember doing it and I said to my dad, "Dad, look, remember you said you would never do this korma. And I've just put it in my book." And he said, yeah, like 15 years late. And I was like, Dad...Dad. So, yeah. So he whenever I do something, he'll always find a way of kind of just — yeah, taking it away from me.
Dan Pashman: Another thing you’ll see in Nadiya’s cookbooks? Her hands. Last year she posted a pic of them on Instagram. She wrote that years ago, she applied for a job as a hand model, and was told "Black hands don’t sell jewelry." She went on to write in the post, "I have since worked with Swarovski with these very hands and worn their jewellery with pride!" In the second photo in that Instagram post, she’s got her middle fingers raised to the camera.
Dan Pashman: In the first couple of years after winning Bake Off, Nadiya wasn’t speaking out about issues of racism and sexism in the world of food media. I wanted to know what changed for her.
Nadiya Hussain: If you'd asked me six years ago, "Come on, let's talk about this and let's talk about that," I would have said to you, "Absolutely no way. We're just talking about cooking and baking. This is my world and this is what I want to do." And now I think six years later, I kind of understand the responsibility of talking about being a British first generation Bangladeshi Muslim woman working in an industry that never really had space for me. So and I think that's really important to talk about that and how hard it is to find the space in the world of publication, media, television. Because I know I've spent my whole life trying to fit in. You know, I've spent my entire life trying to be the — to walk into a room and not feel like everybody's looking at me, to walk into a room and feel like I can just walk in without it being really obvious that I am completely different to everybody else.
Dan Pashman: And I know you talk about entering a room, creating space, you have a mantra for yourself that you also teach your kids, "Elbows out." What is elbows out?
Nadiya Hussain: That is — that is something that I tell my kids every day. I even shout it, like when they're having a really bad day and they're walking out to go to school. I kind of I shout from the side door. I'm like, "Elbows out, guys!" They're like, oh, my gosh. There she is again. Yeah, they kind of hate it and — but they get it. That's something that I — when I'm having a day when I feel like I'm not fitting in and I'm struggling and I don't know where I belong, that's what I tell myself. I remind myself, elbows out. And that's something I'm trying to teach my kids because it's important to make space for yourself in order to create space for other people. And my hope is that in being in the public eye and being in publication, being in media, being on mainstream television, people like me who come from backgrounds like me, women, first generation, British, American, anyone, you know like who can look at me and say, actually, if she can do it, then I can do it.
Nadiya Hussain: And I've got to say, you know, it's not always fun, constantly being strong. Sometimes I want to — I don't want to be strong all the time. I want to be able to just be amazing at my craft. But it is so important to constantly keep inspiring people and showing them that they are able to do exactly what I'm doing.
Dan Pashman: These days, the path of winning a cooking competition show and using that as a springboard for a career in food has been pretty well established. But I feel like even with that, your case stands out to me. Since winning Bake Off in 2015, you've hosted eight TV shows, published 12 books. In Britain, you're first name status. You just say Nadiya. People know who you're talking about. A few years ago, you were a stay at home mom in the north of England, which for our American listeners is kind of like the Rust Belt of England. And today, you're not only an international star in food and cooking, but you're also a leading voice on these issues of racism, sexism, mental health. I'm curious to ask you, did you always know you had it in you?
Nadiya Hussain: Oh, I remember once being — oh my, that's a really good question. It's actually got me thinking. It stopped me. You know, how much I love to talk. It's actually stopped me in my tracks. There was a time my dad said — I remember saying to my dad when I was, I think maybe seven or eight. And I said to my dad, "I'm going to be famous one day." And he said, "No, you're not." And I remember being a teenager and saying to my dad, "Do you think I can do a job that makes a difference?" And my dad said, "No, you need to do a job to pay your mortgage." So for me to be able to do something that's important to me, to have a cause, to have a reason to do the job that I do is a luxury for me. And so I now get to do a job that not only provides for me financially, but also I get to — I also get to talk about things like racism, sexism, mental health. I get to talk about the things that are really important to me.
Dan Pashman: You know, in terms of the question of did you always know that you had it in you, I would think that there's also just a tremendous internal drive and ambition that is required to — it's not even the win at winning Bake Off. It's everything that happened after. I feel like that was this like — like a switch was flipped at that moment, that suddenly opened up something that perhaps had been there all along, a level of drive and ambition, an almost like a ferocity. To go out and host 8 TV shows, 12 books, and to accomplish so much in such a short span of time to undergo — the word I — that first pops into my head is to undergo a transformation. But then I'm not sure, was it a transformation or was it just that that something that was inside all along was finally let out?
Nadiya Hussain: Um, it's probably the latter. I think it feels like there's somebody — there was there was this kind of, like you said, that ferocity that kind of need to succeed. There was a moment for me when I won Bake Off, that it kind of unlocked something in me I didn’t know was there. There was a voice deep down inside that was desperate to come out. And its always been there, but I think, I grew up believing that I had one role and one role only. And that was to be, you know, be a good wife and be a good mom. And it turns out that I can be a good wife and a good mom and be completely fierce and take over the world at the same time.
Dan Pashman: That’s Nadiya Hussain. Her latest book, Nadiya Bakes, is on sale in this country on July 27th. You can pre-order it right now. And if you subscribe to our newsletter by August 6th, you’ll be entered in a chance to win the book! Subscribe now at Sporkful.com/newsletter.
Dan Pashman: If you want to go back and watch or re-watch Nadiya on The Great British Bake Off, if you're watching through the BBC, she's in Series 6. on the BBC. If you're on Netflix, she's in Collection 3 on.
Dan Pashman: On next week’s show, comedian Nicole Byer, who hosts the hilarious cooking show on Netflix, Nailed It! Oh, man, we'll have fun with Nicole. We'll talk about the parallels between a restaurant kitchen and a comedy club, how nothing will stop her from eating a delicious burger, and Nicole will discover what a whole shrimp actually looks like. It’s a fun one, don’t miss it. That's next week.