I n a rare feat, that exhibited her exemplary culinary skills and has also attracted global attention, Nigerian chef, Hilda Bassey Effiong, popularly known as Hilda Buci recently broke the Guinness World Record for longest cooking hours. That record, which was previously held by Indian chef, Lata Tondon, was achieved in 2019 but got broken at Amore Gardens in Lekki, Lagos State on Monday May 15, 2023. While Tondon had made meals for 87 hours, 45 minutes and 00 seconds, the Nigerian chef blew past that record at exactly 7:46am on Monday morning of May 15, clocking 87 hours and 46 minutes. Before then, Hilda had cooked nonstop since 4 pm on Thursday, May 11. She kept cooking till 4pm on Monday to reach her record goal of 100 hours. Over that history- shattering period, the 27-year- old chef made delicacies from Nigerian cuisines with over 110 meals! As we commend her for breaking the world record in the cook-a-thon (cooking marathon), it is important to know more about her background; her source of inspiration, some challenges she was able to surmount and of course, what other Nigerians should glean from her zero-to-hero story. Miss Hilda Effiong, aptly described as an inspiring entrepreneur was born to Mr. and Mrs. Effiong Bassey on September 20, 1996, in Akwa Ibom State. She is a multi- talented Nigerian TV producer, actress and head cook at FoodbyHilda.
Despite starting her career as a chef, just a few years ago, she has managed to build a successful brand for herself known as @Myfoodbyhilda. Before veering off into Nigeria’s vibrant food industry, Hilda studied Sociology at Madonna University in Okija, Anambra State. Her passion for cooking and sharing her culinary skills with others, through impactful media channels inspired her to start her own business, which initially had only one location. In fact, she has become popular for her innovative cooking techniques and creative presentation, earning her a loyal following of customers and fans. According to Hilda: “The journey to the cook-a-thon started five years ago. It is one of my biggest aspirations and I am glad that I took the bold step to embark on this adventure. I have taken time to prepare for this psychologically and I am proud to finally take on this challenge. “The cook-a-thon is also an opportunity to tell some of the positive stories that come from Africa through the meals that we make.
This attempt is also proof of the strength young people can exhibit with the right platform and support.” Responding to the query via its official Twitter page, Guinness World Records said: “We’re aware of this amazing record attempt. We need to review all the evidence first before officially confirming a record.” It is believed that once an individual has completed a record attempt, he/she must submit the evidence to the body. The first step for any successful Guinness World Records title holder is the quality of their application. “It can take up to 12 weeks for us to review your documentation and let you know if your record attempt has been accepted as the new record holder or rejected.”
The lessons to learn from Hilda’s attempt and eventual epoch-making record into the Guinness Book of Records are profound. Firstly, is her ability to truly identify her innate potentials, different from what she studied at Madonna University. In addition is her firm belief in such talents and the willingness to learn, so as to hone her skills to international standards. Next comes the provision of the enabling environment for her to showcase her cooking abilities. And it is good enough that the Nigerian media including the social media was set at blitz as Hilda cooked over 100 different meals, which were served freely to over 4,000 youths who turned up for dinner at the garden. One other significant factor, worthy of note and commendation, was the visits by former the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Akpabio, some senators-elect and of course, Governor Sanwo-Olu of the host community, Lagos State.
Their physical presence and their tasting some of her dishes along with words of commendation have no doubt spurred Hilda on to this moment of glory. For instance, during that visit, which was at exactly at 1pm on Sunday, at the moment Hilda hit 69th hour in the kitchen, she reportedly offered Sanwo-Olu a taste of some of the delicacies prepared, including the popular Akwa Ibom’s traditional Edika Ikong and Egusi soup, a notable choice of the Yorubas. As the governor rightly noted: “Hilda is a great inspiration and motivator displaying the values of our country. I wish her the strength and courage to finish well and break the global record. Having made history with the largest cupcakes, we are expecting to have another first for our country and state.” Well said. For us, this is an opportunity to call on all our political leaders as well as richly endowed Nigerians to use their wealth of experience to identify and support so many other Hildas in other sectors of the economy, to showcase their immense potentials to the world.