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Chef Hilda Bassey cooks for 100 hours straight in world record attempt

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Last week a crowd gathered in Lagos, Nigeria, to celebrate an attempt at a new world record.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #1: (Chanting) Hilda Baci.

SUMMERS: Chef Hilda Baci cooked for four days straight.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

SUMMERS: She ended her cook-a-thon at 100 hours of nonstop cooking. The previous record was 87 hours.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Baci learned to cook from her mother, who was a caterer. But she didn't grow up dreaming of being a chef. She actually wanted to study medicine.

HILDA BACI: But then I just realized that cooking was something that came very naturally to me. And I remember doing it even in university, where I used to cook for events in my school.

SHAPIRO: So she became a chef. She owns a restaurant, makes cooking videos, teaches classes. And she thought one way to make a name for herself was to take on the Guinness World Record for marathon cooking.

BACI: In the beginning, I was going through a huge wave of anxiety and fear.

SUMMERS: Baci says the support of her brother and her fans kept her going through the physical and mental exhaustion.

BACI: So there's something my brother had said to me that was so profound. And he said to me, you know what? You've not dropped yet. You're still standing, and you're still able to put things in the pot. So just keep doing it until you can't do it anymore.

SUMMERS: She wanted to highlight African food in her world record attempt, and so the menu featured more than 55 recipes, many of them Nigerian.

BACI: I made coconut rice. I made afang soup, egusi soup. I made ukwa. I made nkwobi.

SHAPIRO: Despite her exhaustion, Baci says the cook-a-thon was like a four-day-long party...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP #2: (Singing in non-English language).

SHAPIRO: ...Complete with a large crowd and lots of Nigerian music. Baci says one artist who's not Nigerian was particularly inspiring.

BACI: I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift. In fact, we had a whole Taylor Swift concert during the cook-a-thon concerts because, you know, I kept listening to "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU BELONG WITH ME")

TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) If you could see that I'm the one...

SUMMERS: Baci tells us she's just submitted all her evidence to the Guinness World Records team. And she hopes to hear back soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU BELONG WITH ME")

SWIFT: (Singing) Why can't you see? You belong with me. You belong with me. Walking the streets with you and your worn-out jeans, I can't help thinking this is how it ought to be - laughing on a park bench, thinking to myself, hey; isn't this easy? And you've got a smile that could light up... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kai McNamee
Tinbete Ermyas
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.