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Nadiya Hussain Transcript

The Great British Bake Off’s Nadiya Hussain

Kerry Diamond: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe, the number one female-focused food podcast around I'm your host, Kerry Diamond, coming to you not from Brooklyn as usual, but from East Greenwich, Rhode Island. I'm here at our printing press overseeing the printing of the next issue of our magazine, which will be out very soon. It's been quite the month already. Huh? Well, you get a little break with today's episode. Our guest is Nadiya Hussain, baker, cookbook author, TV personality, mom, and most notably, a winner of the Great British Bake Off. So, essentially, Nadiya is baking royalty.

I'm guessing a lot of you have seen the inspiring YouTube video of Nadiya when she's named winner, or maybe you've seen the Chronicles of Nadiya, Nadiya's British Food Adventures or her Netflix series, Time to Eat. The companion cookbook is out tomorrow and Time to Eat is all about time saving recipes for busy folks. As you're about to learn, you talk to Nadiya once and you want to be best friends. She's brave and warm and wonderful. And I'm thrilled she's on our show.

Time for a little housekeeping. Make sure you sign up for a very Cherry Bombe Friendsgiving. It's all about food, gratitude, and new traditions. Maybe you're like me and you have no idea what you're doing for the holidays, or maybe you have it all planned out. Either way, RSVP at and join the Bombesquad for demos, talks, and panels. Thank you to Kerrygold, Maple Hill Creamery, and Pellegrino for supporting Friendsgiving. Speaking of Kerrygold, today's episode is brought to you by those fine folks. We'll be right back after this word about Kerrygold's excellent butter and cheese.

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Kerry Diamond: Now, here's my conversation with the amazing Nadiya Hussain.

It's so interesting being in America and watching the phenomenon that is the Great British Bake Off, and we will talk about that in a little bit, but the main thing we're talking about today is you have sort of a brand new cookbook. It's brand new in America and it's called Time to Eat. Can you tell us what that book is all about?

Nadiya Hussain: Well, thank you for having me on the show. The book is about … It's just about the way I like to cook. And this is really special for me because this book has been out for over a year here in the UK. The fact that I get to share it with you guys in the US is really exciting for me because I never imagined that anybody outside of the UK would ever get hold of the book. For me, that's really exciting.

But Time to Eat is a book about the way I like to cook. Now, I am a busy mom of three children. If anyone asks me, “Are you still a housewife?” I almost consider myself still a housewife, still a house maker because amongst all the other things that I do and the full-time job, I still do the cooking. Well, my kids are very good at cooking, but I still do most of all of that.

And so for those of us who live busy lifestyles, whether you have a family or not and you want to eat really well, it's about utilizing the things that you have in your kitchen. So, down to your freezer, your microwave, your oven, and batch cooking, and learning how to do things really quickly without wasting too much time and not compromising on flavor.

Kerry Diamond: Now, you have a companion Netflix series of the same name. I was amazed. You met with this truck driver – or you call them lorries I guessover in the UK – you met with this lorry driver who really wanted to simplify his routine and you asked how much time he would spend when he went home at night cooking. And he said two and a half hours.

Nadiya Hussain: I just can't. I mean, I can't think of anything worse, and I love being in the kitchen. This is coming from somebody who spends most of her day in the kitchen. I can't think of anything worse than after a long day of work to come home and have to be in the kitchen for two and a half hours. It just does not even … Why would anybody want to do that?

Kerry Diamond: And you wake up at 3:00 in the morning.

Nadiya Hussain: Mm. No, I just can't imagine why anybody would want to do that. And I think it's about reclaiming our time back. We can still have wonderful meals. We can still sit together and eat dinner together and reclaim our time back by just being a little bit savvy in the kitchen. And the book is all about making things in double quantities, batch cooking, freezing, making sure not to waste, utilizing what you have. With all of those skills combined, you really do get to grow your time back.

Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. Well, it's just so sad what's going on in the world right now, because it would have been wonderful A, to meet you in person and B, to have you actually come to the States to promote your book. What was your plan?

Nadiya Hussain: This has been something that I've wanted to do for such a long time and the fact that the book is out there and I'm not out there promoting it and being able to actually physically be in the US, is really difficult because part of all of this is that I love traveling and I love meeting people. And I really miss that. I really miss just signing books and just having a little natter. I love having a little chat and just a cup of tea and a chat. I love, that's like my favorite thing to do. I really miss that. And so if it was a different time, I would've been right there with you. And I probably would have shared some baking with you or we'd have eaten something together. And we can't do all of that. Then maybe there's time for that, maybe one day.

Kerry Diamond: One day. Have you spent much time in the States?

Nadiya Hussain: I have done a bit of traveling in the States. I've done a bit of filming of my own in the States. Yeah, I have. It's one of those places that when you look at it on a … My kids always look at it on a map and say, “Mom, that's quite big. Do you think we'll ever see all of that?” I say, “We can try. We can try.”

Kerry Diamond: Have they come here with you?

Nadiya Hussain: Yes, they have come. We've been to the US before, also we've done Florida and Disney. Yeah, they've done the theme parks in Florida. We did a good 10 days and I said, “Can I see more of America because I'm sure there's better places than this?”

Kerry Diamond: I love that you call it, you've "done" Florida.

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. That means I may not be going back ever again. No, we have. Just next time I do Florida, it's not going to be in a theme park.

Kerry Diamond: Well, you got a good taste of America, that's for sure.

Nadiya Hussain: We did.

Kerry Diamond: What's your take on our baked goods versus UK baked goods?

Nadiya Hussain: They're very different, aren't they? I think they're massively different. I suppose you can't. Can you really compare the two because they are actually so different and actually it's where you go. And I think when I traveled around America last year, some of last year and the year before that, I met some amazing people and I met some incredible bakes, but usually it's the little holes in the wall that you get the best bakes from. It's the little cafes and the little coffee shops that you get the best of bakes from, not necessarily the big supermarkets. I was very lucky and I traveled and I got to eat some really incredible, interesting bakes while I was out there.

Kerry Diamond: That's true. It is the little places, but I will say anytime I go to the UK, which sadly hasn't been in a little while now, I do love the little places and visiting the friends I've made in the little bake shops, but I am just mystified and blown away when I walk into like the Marks & Spencer food hall or different food halls and food courts that you have. Oh my God. Like, was it Selfridges? The food court and Selfridges and the famous one at Harrods.

Nadiya Hussain: Yes.

Kerry Diamond: Let's go back to Time to Eat for a second. I would love for you to tell us a recipe that you think is sort of the gateway recipe of Time to Eat. Where should we start with that book?

Nadiya Hussain: I'm trying to think. What's the gateway recipe? My goodness, that's really tricky. One of the recipes that I did on the show, I used to go back by social media and the feedback that I get back from social media. And it's often the ones that people think, “Oh, I don't know if that's going to work.” I think that's probably the way that I like to cook and I like to bake is when people look at it and think, “Oh, I wouldn't have thought of that. Is that going to work or is that going to taste nice?” I quite like the fact that people are intrigued and mystified, but also don't want to make it, but want to make it at the same time. I love that there's this element of not sure.

I do a peanut butter and jelly tray bake, which is basically the mom's fast version of giving my children pancakes without actually flipping individual pancakes. And it's got all the filling and everything already in there. And I think if I was going to give anyone an insight into the book, it would be something like that because it's a recipe for a double pancake batter.

You make one batter, you split it in half, stick one in the freezer for when you need pancakes a different day. And then you make the other one by pouring the batter into a tray. And then you swirl in peanut butter and jam. Jelly, you guys call it. Swirl that in and bake it and then cut it up into squares. And then you've got instant pancakes that you don't have to spend ages by a stove flipping over. You just bake it in the oven and then you take it out.

Kerry Diamond: That is brilliant. I'm one of five kids. And I think my mother would have loved to have had your tray bake recipe back in the day. I felt so bad for her because I was the oldest. I often felt like she was just the short order cook.

Nadiya Hussain: I'm one of six, so I know what you mean. It's quite tough watching them work so hard. Actually I look back now and I talk to my mom and she said, “That's just the way I show love.” And I think it's quite lovely that when it is their expression of love, it doesn't seem like such hard work, I suppose.

Kerry Diamond: Exactly. Exactly. Now, your mom did cook when you grew up?

Nadiya Hussain: Yes. Mom's an amazing cook. My mom is just, she's such a good cook and she cooks traditional Bangladeshi food. So, she doesn't steer away from what she knows and because she's so good at what she knows, everything she cooks, honestly, it's magical. It's magical everything she cooks.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's amazing. Was she one of those moms who would shoo you out of the kitchen or did she let you help out?

Nadiya Hussain: Oh, no. When you've got one of six and I don't know what your mom was like, but my goodness, my mom was like, “Get out of my kitchen right now.” Although there was this sense that she wanted us to learn, of the six is four girls and two boys and mom was always wanted the girls to learn how to cook, less so the brothers. In fact, not at all. She would give us snippets of information, but if we got under her feet, she would just say, “Could you just leave please?” Because even now, if I see her, and I go to her house, she doesn't like us being in the, especially me because I'm the one that gets in and is like, “Ooh, what's that?”

And I'll go and pick something out of her cupboard and say, “Ooh, should we make this with that?” And I start snowballing. And then everybody starts. And then where we've already had lunch, suddenly we're the kitchen cooking up something enormous. And my mom's like, “I've just tidied up. Get out of my kitchen.” She gets really annoyed, especially when I turn up. And if my dad gets involved, she's like, “I'm off.” When me and my dad get involved, we just make a mess. So, she hates it when we're in there. No, she wasn't the kind of mom that encouraged us to get in the kitchen. She gave us information, but we weren't allowed to practice, which was pointless.

Kerry Diamond: That sounds like my great-grandmother. She would do these big dinners for, I don't know, like 10, 12, 15 people and wanted to just execute the whole thing by herself in the kitchen. No one helped and-

Nadiya Hussain: And did she ever get flustered?

Kerry Diamond: Not that I remember, but it was amazing to me that she just wanted to do this whole thing by herself. But I guess that was just the way she liked to do it. What do you remember your mom making when you were a child or what was a particular favorite of yours?

Nadiya Hussain: Oh, goodness. During the day my mom, it was … Usually in the morning, it was very quick in and out on a school day. We'd just have some breakfast and we were out. And then when you're one of six, mom never used to even realize when some of us wouldn't have breakfast, we'd just come dash out of the house and we'd be gone. It was usually, it was rice and curry. My mom, even to this day, cooks something like eight curries every single day.

Kerry Diamond: Wow.

Nadiya Hussain: Eight curries. There's hardly anyone living in our house. We've all moved out and she still cooks eight curries. Even yesterday, I think she has something like seven curries in her house. We'd come home from school and my dad was restaurateur, so he would be home during the day, but not at night. So, as we were coming in, he would be just getting ready to have something to eat and then go off to work.

Our paths would cross, but usually on a week night, we'd come home from school. And that was the really exciting bit because we'd be met with these gorgeous smells, not really knowing exactly what mom's going to cook. And there was always some fish. There were always lots of vegetables. Very rarely meat. We didn't eat loads of meat, so it would be like a chicken or maybe some lamb.

When you're talking eight curries, you have to vary it up, but we had like three or four different vegetable dishes. We'd always have a fish. We'd always have a fermented fish. We'd also have some chicken. And sometimes at the end we'd have some mango and cream just to finish it off. That was us five days a week.

Kerry Diamond: Your dad had a restaurant. What kind of restaurant?

Nadiya Hussain: So, my dad ran Indian restaurants. Very much Indian restaurants with Indian recipes that had been adapted for the Western palette, not necessarily authentically Indian food. And so he ran restaurants his whole life for as long as I can remember. He never did any other job. He once did maître d front of house in a spa. And he just said, “No, I need me some curry.” And so he just left.

Kerry Diamond: Restaurants are so hard. I know they're the same in the UK as they are here in the States. It's very tough. How did he handle working in a restaurant?

Nadiya Hussain: Anyone who lives with somebody who works in a restaurant, I think there's an element of having to give up that person, because I know that when we were growing up, dad would be home 2:00 to 3:00 in the morning. When we were off to school, he would still be asleep and we'd come home. And then we'd literally, our paths would cross. As he was finishing his early dinner, we would be coming in to have our dinner at home after school. It was like we'd cross paths.

It was like we were ships in the night and we never really actually ever stopped. And then dad would work really late into the night. And then we would do that until he had the day off. And when we did have him for a day off, he was so exhausted. He would just spend a lot of his time in bed asleep because he was just catching up because he worked sometimes 12, 14, 16 hours.

I think anyone who works in a restaurant, anyone who has somebody who works in the restaurant industry, you have to almost let go of them a little bit because I do remember as a child really missing my dad and knowing that he wasn't around as much. I have to say, I did look forward to going into the kitchen in the morning for breakfast and checking the fridge because he'd always come home with leftovers from the restaurant.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. I was going to ask how it affected your relationship with him.

Nadiya Hussain: I think it made us really close because for me, I've always been quite close to my dad. And I don't know if it's just the fact that I am quite literally a carbon copy of his face without a beard, but we look exactly the same. Our temperaments are exactly the same. We're really sentimental. And we have this, I think there's this thing about, we can turn a memory into something quite … Like there's something about when my dad talks about memories and he always says that I talk about them the same way he does. I think we're quite similar. I used to really miss him on. I used to really look forward to his days off.

And even though I used to secretly really dislike the fact that he'd be asleep most of his day off, I used to sit downstairs and I'd wait for the smell of cigarette smoke. And when I could smell cigarette smoke, I knew he was up. As that smell would come downstairs, I'd be like, “Yes, he's up.” And then run upstairs, jump into bed with him. And he'd tell me stories about his parents and back home in Bangladesh. And so my dad's an amazing storyteller. I think it made us quite close actually and I think in the same breath, we're so similar. We can hate each other just as much.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, no. Now, you have such an extensive resume for someone so young, but I noticed opening a restaurant is not on that resume. Have you tried your hand at restaurants or bakeries yet?

Nadiya Hussain: I haven't. And it's one of the things that really scare me because growing up, it used to be a bugbear of mine because I used to really dislike the fact that my dad would cook Indian food that wasn't authentic to Bangladesh. To generalize Indian food in one big bubble and say, “That is Indian food,” I think that's just not okay because there are so many little pockets of communities that cook food so differently and we should be celebrating that. Bangladeshi cuisine is so unique and so delicious. And I used say to dad, “Dad, please, can you just not cook Bangladeshi food?” And he just said, “The world isn't ready for that. The world doesn't want the food that we eat at home. It wants the food that everybody eats.” And so I think when I get to write recipes that come from our Bangladeshi home and that are traditional, for me, that's a step forward to really introducing people to Bangladeshi cuisine.

And so running a restaurant, I know what that means because I know how much of my dad we lost through his running of businesses and running restaurants. And so I don't know that I could do that to my children because somebody once said to me, they said, “Oh the older they get, the less they need you, so you can do whatever you like.” And that's completely untrue because the older they get, the more they need me because when they're little, they need you physically, because if you don't feed them, nobody feeds them. If you don't change them, there's nobody to change them. They need you physically.

As they get older, I find my kids need me so much more. And I just don't think that I can give up my children for the sake of a business like that. I know my dad did it for necessity because we were working class family, so he needed to work. And I totally understand that. And I just can't see myself doing that. Unless I could open a restaurant and have somebody else run it. Absolutely, no way.

Kerry Diamond: Now, speaking of your family, you had a show in the UK called Chronicles of Nadiya and you actually were able to go back to Bangladesh to cook and visit your family's village.

Nadiya Hussain: Yes.

Kerry Diamond: What was that like?

Nadiya Hussain: Oh, that was one of the first things I did. That was one of the first things after Bake Off. I traveled to Bangladesh. I would do that all over again. It was such an incredible journey and so short lived because I think about it back four years ago and I think, “Goodness, I wish I had kind of just inhaled that experience in a deeper way.” It was wonderful to go back because this is the first time that my family had seen me in something like nine years, 10 years. And we would go back every year when I was living at home with my parents, we would go back every summer. If it wasn't all of us than some of us would go back in bits through the year. And so we'd go back every summer.

And after I got married and had children, it's that thing that happens when you have children, you become overcautious and slightly afraid. And I didn't go back for something like nine years. And so it was the first time after Bake Off and they'd been following it. They can't follow the show out there, but they see snippets of it on YouTube and things like that. They were really, really proud and to go back and just really experience those blessings out there, it gave me that boost that I didn't think I needed. And to know that there were people, my own family in this quiet little village that rooted for me the whole way.

Kerry Diamond: Now, that's wonderful. You went back as the sort of culinary superstar to see things through this culinary lens. Were there any food surprises on that trip?

Nadiya Hussain: The food was less surprising. It was more about the regions and the different places that I went to in Bangladesh. In certain things like biryanis and the use of goat meat and things like that. I didn't grow up eating biryanis, but when we were out there, there was a lot more biryani. And I don't know if that changed since the nine years that I hadn't been there, there was some sort of culinary shift out there and suddenly biryani was a thing out there. Yeah, it was interesting to see foods from different landscapes around Bangladesh. That was really interesting.

Kerry Diamond: I do love how we're learning more and more about the regionality of countries and places now. There's so much less lumping in. There's not just one Bangladeshi cuisine. There's not just one American cuisine. There's not one British cuisine. I think that's one of the nice things about social media and just the way the food world's changed.

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. I think we have a different appreciation for it. I think certainly over the last six or seven months, it's given us all time to just stop and just appreciate the things around us. For a lot of us, that was food. And I know for me that was food. Sometimes that might be, it wasn't always a good thing, but sometimes it was just being sat on the couch and eating a whole family sized packet of crisps and that was not good. But other times it was about just stopping and thinking, “Actually, where is this thing from? Where is this ingredient from?” And it was a lot of learning. I found myself doing that a lot of the last seven, eight months because I had the time. I was forced to stop, and that was lovely.

I think the one thing a lot of us are missing is traveling and being able to experience those things firsthand. And I think once this is over, hopefully it will be, and we're safe to travel again, I think a lot of us, it's going to go wild at the travel agents.

Kerry Diamond: That's a good point, travel agents. The internet killed that job, but that might come back. That might come roaring back. Nadiya, it's a great transition because you have been on such a roller coaster ride ever since you won the Great British Bake Off in 2015, this is probably the first break that you've had unintentionally. Can you tell us how your life has changed during pandemic?

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. I think it's a forced kind of stop in my life that I wasn't expecting. And in some ways it cannot be a bad thing. It can't be a bad thing to stop because I do find myself get to the point of exhaustion where I feel like I'm just not the same person I was say, 20 days before. And so sometimes I can go for like a good 19-20 days working solidly and then realizing I haven't even stopped. In some ways, forcing myself to stop during the pandemic, it was a good thing for me, mentally and physically.

It was a wonderful time to have to stop and enjoy it with the children, because what I'd found over the last five years is that, although I am really conscious of spending the weekends with the kids and working quite hard Monday to Friday, I consciously don't work on the weekend, what I found was even then, I was racing through the weekend to get back to Monday again.

And what it allowed me to do is really stop and look into my children's eyes. And that's something I'd stopped doing. I realized five years later that, actually do I stop and actually look them in the eyes? I'd realized that I don't. I don't stop long enough to just make eye contact, just hold their faces and just hold them and then just look them in the eyes. And that's what I've enjoyed doing apart from eating a lot more than I need to and exercising a lot less. I've just enjoyed spending some time with them. And I think in some ways we've all had to, because we've been forced to stop. We've been forced to reevaluate what life really means to us, and that can never be a bad thing.

Kerry Diamond: What did you decide life means to you?

Nadiya Hussain: I always used to say to myself, “I'll save that for a special occasion,” whether it was a dress or a lipstick or a cake or if it was a box of chocolates or something, whatever, it'd be pair of shoes, anything. Like, “I'll save that for a special occasion.” And actually today is a special occasion. Everyday is a special occasion because we're not guaranteed to be here tomorrow. And as morbid as that sounds, and lots of people are not comfortable talking about mortality, but every day is a special occasion. Why am I saving anything for a special occasion?

And so two days ago I felt like wearing a dress that is very beautiful and really I shouldn't be wearing that around the house baking cake, but I wore it anyway because every day is a special occasion. And that's what we tell ourselves now, is that never save anything for a special occasion because that special occasion may never come. So, make today the special occasion.

Kerry Diamond: That is great advice. Nadiya, I don't know if this is your reputation in the UK or if this is just what I've picked up learning about you over the years and then studying about you over the past week, but you're very much a truth teller. And were you always that way?

Nadiya Hussain: Yes, much to my dad's distain, I'm definitely a truth-teller. I'm the person who, because I suffered with mental health issues, I've always been very good at hiding the truth, I suppose, in some ways, which is completely contradictory with what you've just said. I was very good at masking it with a smile or a laugh or a bit of lipstick and just a colorful outfit. And I could just mask everything that I was feeling. In some ways my lying became my truth and covering up became my truth, and that's exhausting. That's exhausting.

And so since Bake Off, I'm quite honest. Ever since, long before Bake Off, being honest with my children has always been a big part of raising them because kids know when you're not telling the truth and kids know your face and kids know because they love you. And so you can't hide things from children.

I've never really hidden anything from my kids. And so I think in the last five years, I've just learned that actually I will always get criticism for being honest, because people will look and say, “Oh, she's just …” and I hear it everyday, I heard it today. Somebody said, “Oh, she's just another celebrity with just another book.” And that's absolutely fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we're still humans regardless of what job we do.

And so what I don't do anymore is listen to people like that on social media anymore because they're just negative people with negative things to say that I don't have space for. I don't really give them that space anymore. And so I speak the truth, I speak my truth and I speak about what's on my mind and I'm really honest about it. And I think, I think lots of people appreciate that because I think we live in a society and a culture of filters that people don't really see anyone's truth anymore and there's nothing wrong with being completely transparent. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Not to say I don't mind, do not filter occasionally on Instagram, but we are, we do live in a world of filters and covering up, which I think we shouldn't do.

Kerry Diamond: It's so interesting, you mentioned surrounding yourself with color and anyone who's followed you knows you love a bright color, whether it's a pastel nail polish or your pastel KitchenAid mixer, but I never thought about surrounding yourself in color as sort of a protective move.

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. I think sometimes I find myself … I used to do this thing with like whenever I would wear a black head scarf, it was usually because I was really nervous and my headscarf was like a mood ring. It would reflect how I'm feeling. And weirdly I went into this world of wearing lots of color because if people saw me wear color, they would assume that I was feeling as colorful and jovial on the inside as I was on the outside. And it did, for a long time it did just become a coverup, but I also quite like color. I also really like color. That's never going to be a problem for me, but it does feel like sometimes I wear so much color because sometimes it feels like that's what I want it to feel on the inside. And sometimes it works.

Sometimes I'll wear loads of colorful things and it feels really good and somehow that reflects on the inside and it does make me feel a little bit better. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. And actually sometimes it makes people smile and that makes me happy. So, it kind of works both ways.

Kerry Diamond: And speaking of truth-telling, you've also been very honest and outspoken about the racism you faced in the industry. And I had read something that was pretty daunting that you said that in the five years you've been involved in food media, you've experienced more racism than all the years before. And I just wanted to ask you how things are going today.

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. I've always experienced a element of racism, whether that's at school, whether that was at college, whether it was at work long before I was doing this job. I've spent my whole life with bits of racism dotted into it. Yeah, I've experienced racism for as long as I can remember but over the last five years the reality is, and I think often people don't want to hear the truth and maybe perhaps often people don't know the truth is that I've worked in an industry that doesn't have a space for someone like me. I'm a five foot brown Bangladeshi, daughter of an immigrant woman who is a Muslim and outwardly so.

I have all of those things that I'm proud of being every part of all of those groups. But I think in the society that we live in and the industry that I work in, there isn't a space for someone like me because someone like me doesn't exist in the industry. If you'd asked me five years ago, people would question me about my race and my religion and my faith and my political stance and I would say, “Could you just leave me alone? Can we just talk about food? I just want to talk about food.” And in some ways it would be lovely. It would be lovely to work in a society and work in a world where I could just be me and I could just talk about my love of food, but unfortunately I don't, and there's an interest in the religion that I choose to follow and my race and being a woman and all of those other things, people have an interest in that, because actually there isn't a space for me.

So, people want to know about how I feel about working in an industry like this. And the truth is there isn't space for someone like me. And so with that comes negativity, comes racism comes a feeling of not fitting in. And that's something that is going to take time. It's not going to go away. It's not just going to go away overnight. And I'm really open about that because actually, unless you work in the industry, you don't really realize that there's a problem. And there's definitely a problem because I know that I can go into a publishing meeting or I could go in on set and they could be from ranging 10 to 50 people in any one room and when you're the only person of color, there's a problem. There's something not quite right.

And so I'm really vocal about it because something has to change because I live, I've got three children who are going to grow up in this very society and I know very well without me saying it, and I don't say it to them because I don't want them to have a head start with negativity in their heads, but the reality is that they live in a world where they're not always going to fit in and they have to be prepared for that. And I'd like to think that by working in an industry that doesn't have space for someone like me, it creates space for other people and that is a step forward to a better more diverse world and television and publishing.

Kerry Diamond: And a lot of it is behind the scenes, what folks don't see, but what I see, what you see, because we see who the food stylist is, or the prop stylist or the photographer's assistant or things like that. And I think a lot of mentorship and interning and programs like that needed to take place for things to really change.

Nadiya Hussain: Yes, yes, absolutely. And quite often, working in this industry, I've noticed that often there'll be somebody who works as a runner or as an assistant, but they work in the industry because they have a mom or an aunt or a relative who works in the industry. They naturally have a shoe in to get into that industry. And I look around and I think actually, if there's nobody like me, if there isn't somebody like me as an executive or producer or a director, or working on the camera or a home maker or a prop style, then how will the generation below them get a shoe in? How? How will their children or their nephews or their nieces get a shoe in? How do they make it in?

And actually sometimes it's who you know, and that's not okay. I think it should be based on your skill and not who you know. So, it's tough. It's really, really tough. I hope that by working in an industry that is not diverse, I hope it does open up or create space for other people who do want to work in the industry.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. I know exactly what you're talking about. Every week you get an email from someone who's the daughter of someone and you don't want to punish those people because just who they happen to have as their parents, but at the same time the fact that they get to jump the line in that way is not fair. If you ever get to come to the States, we're trying to break that cycle. We're working very closely with a New York City public high school called the Food and Finance High School. It's a remarkable place. It's New York City's only culinary focused public high school. It's 97% young people of color. We just helped them do a magazine. Some of the students are interning with us right now. That's where it has to start. You can't just take the people who can cut the line. It won't result in change.

Nadiya Hussain: No, absolutely.

Kerry Diamond: Let's go back to the Great British Bake Off, because that is such a phenomenon and we don't have anything even close to it in the States. We have Top Chef, but I feel like Top Chef compared to the Great British Bake Off, it's sort of like Beatlemania for your whole country and people who love baking and cooking. How did you wind up applying for the show?

Nadiya Hussain: That's funny story. Well, I didn't actually apply myself. It was actually my husband who did it and I was out. I remember him saying, “Oh, I think you could use one of those people.” He doesn't bake, he doesn't cook. Does not like watching Bake Off. Generally doesn't watch much television and I'd force him to watch Bake Off with me and he'd shout at the telly and say, “Oh, you can do that. Oh, you can make that better than them.” And so he would really, really go for it at the telly. I would just ignore it. I didn't even think anything of it. And I was going through a really bad patch where I was really suffering with my mental health and really spending a lot more time in bed. And he was starting to get really worried.

And he just said, “I think you should apply for Bake Off.” And I said, “No, I don't. That's a ridiculous idea.” And if you think about it now, if I say out loud, you're taking somebody who suffers quite badly with mental health issues and then you're saying, “Let's just put you on the biggest baking show in the UK.” And I said, “That's the most ridiculous, absurd idea I ever heard. Absolutely no way.” So, he did the application, of course he doesn't listen to me. He did the application form online and did all the necessary, boring bits, and then said, “Look, I can't do the rest of it because I don't actually know anything about baking, but could you just finish it off?” And I quite literally did it to humor him because I didn't think I'd get in.

And I was like, “Okay, but if it gets you off my back, I'll apply and I won't get in and it'll be fine.” I didn't think anything of it. Two days later, I get a phone call, did a two-hour telephone interview. And I thought, “Oh gosh, this is getting serious.” And with it, my anxiety is growing, getting really stressed out. And then I made it to the final 12. And I remember saying to my husband, “Excuse me, what am I supposed to do now? What am I going to do now?” And he said, “Oh, you just have to get in and film the show.” And I was like, “No, no, not going to happen.” I called the producers three times and I hung up the phone all three times whenever somebody answered. And I cried and I sat at the end of the bed and I said to my husband, “You're going to have to tell them I died.” And he said, “Nope, not going to happen. I'm not doing it.”

Kerry Diamond: For so many people that would be like winning a lottery, winning the lottery. But for you it was the opposite.

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. It was hideous. I couldn't imagine. I couldn't think of anything worse. I just said, “No, I'm not doing it. I won't cope. I can't even do the school run without being a mess. And I can't get out of bed. How do you expect me to get on a train and get down to the 10 and do all the things that I've never done before and film a baking competition? No way. Absolutely no way. You ring them and you tell them I've died. You tell them, because I'm not going to come.” And then he just said, “No, you've done it now and you've made it and you're clearly good enough to make it in. You're going to go. You can call them and tell them you've died.” And I said, “That wouldn't work because I'd be dead. That does not work.”

And so I did it, I did it. And he said, “Whatever you do,” this is how cheeky my husband is. He said, “Okay, so whatever you do, don't get kicked out week one because that would be really embarrassing.” I said, “Oh, you are so,” I was like, “You're all this and then you tell me not to get kicked out week one. Talk about pressure.” But he was amazing. And week on week, he propped me up when I was sinking and he just reminded me that I'm good enough and I can do it and it doesn't matter if I don't win and it's not about winning. It's about the fact that I've already conquered so many demons just filming the show and week on week. And then suddenly there I was week 10 and my life just changed. That was it. That was it.

Kerry Diamond: Clearly you never in a million years thought you'd win.

Nadiya Hussain: No, even now when I look back. If I were to watch the series from start to finish, now I'd look back and say, “She doesn't have a chance of winning, there's no way she's winning. No way.” Because every technical challenge I was right there at the bottom. I was like, “There is no way.” If I was an outsider looking in at the show, I would never have imagined that I would win. I didn't believe I could win. And I remember getting to week 10 and I kept saying to my husband, “It's week 10.” And he said, You know that's the final, there is no week 11. You can't call it week 10. You have to call it the final.” And I refuse to call it the final because I was so nervous at the thought of like, I didn't want to accept that it was the final because I didn't want to believe that I made it to the final.

And then I got there to the end and all I could remember was looking down at my shoes thinking, “Oh, I better put these in the washing machine because they're covered in icing sugar.” And then they said my name. And so six weeks after that life just changed in a way that I could never have imagined.

Kerry Diamond: Unbelievable. We don't get to see it real time here. But from what I read the entire country was in tears when you won. You gave a beautiful speech where you said, “I'm never going to say I can't do it.” People should really go watch the YouTube video of you winning if they haven't seen the season that you won. But that speech that you made at the end was that just pouring out of your heart or had you thought about what you might say if you won?

Nadiya Hussain: From the conversation that we've had, there was no way I had no inkling that I was going to ever win and I didn't even think that I would, and I didn't think I'd make it to the finals. I did not have anything ready. I did not think about what I was going to say. And so many people asked me, "Was that pre-prepared? Because it was so epic.” And I just said, “No, it was just something that came at the time.” I remember standing in front of the camera and you have somebody who they talk to you and you talk back and it's like a little interview. And this wonderful, wonderful lady called Sophie who interviewed me because she'd been on the journey, she was the only person that interviewed me from start to finish.

She cried and I cried and I felt like she'd come on this journey with me because I would talk to her about how I was feeling on camera and off camera. And she just cried and I just cried. And we just looked at each other and just cried for 20 minutes. And then she was crying so much that she couldn't even ask me any questions. And then that's what came out of my mouth. And I think in actual fact that reality for me, when I look back and I think about those words, going on the Great British Bake Off was much more than just baking for me, it was more than cake. It was me challenging myself, battling myself to do something that I'd never done before. It was me fighting my own mental health. It was me saying that I'm more than just my mental health.

And it was me fighting all the demons that I'd carried with me for years and proving to myself that I can be more than my weight of my mental health issues. That point in my life, it was so poignant and I think those words were exactly as they should have been and that's what just came out in the moment. And I think the reason why people remember is because I think it just resonated with so many people, because there are so many of us who have secretly battled mental health issues and struggles. And there's such a stigma and a shame attached to having a mental health issue that for the first time I was able to do something and speak about it in a way that I never had before. And I think so many people related to that. And I think that's why it just … I get messages even today, five years later of people saying, “That's my mantra. That's what I live by.”

And that's pretty special because I think there's so many of us in there who feel defeated by our mental health issues that sometimes it takes somebody to say words like that to remind you that actually we're all in it together and we can get through it.

Kerry Diamond: Well, if you were given this incredible platform and you have used it in such an incredible way. I saw that you have a children's book coming out, it's coming out next year. Right? And it deals with mental health?

Nadiya Hussain: Yes, it's called My Monster and Me.

Kerry Diamond: Is it out now in the UK?

Nadiya Hussain: It's out in the UK and then I've got another book that was out this week, which is Today I'm Strong. I've been writing children's picture books and I've written children's cookbooks as well. But these in particular I've been writing. My Monster and Me is basically how I imagine my anxiety to manifest itself. And as a grownup to explain to a child or my younger self, how do I see my mental health and I describe it as a monster. And sometimes this monster stands in front of my face and stops me from doing anything. And then other times it stands behind my back and taps me on the shoulder just to remind me it's there. And sometimes it's so teeny tiny, I can put it in my pocket and go about my day. And that's kind of how I describe my anxiety.

And so I wanted to put it down in picture form with some words. And I know here in the UK, it's helped so many people, I've had people buy the book for their 25-year-olds who suffer with anxiety and it's a really good tool to get children and parents and caregivers and teachers and people who look after children a tool to talk about anxiety in a safe kind of comfortable way.

Kerry Diamond: And what is the newest children's book called?

Nadiya Hussain: It's called Today I'm Strong. It's about a little girl who gets bullied at school, but it's about finding your inner voice and finding the tiger inside of you. And all of my books have got some sort of an animal reference to them because I think children sometimes relate to animals, better than they do people. I always have some sort of an animal reference in there. Today I'm Strong it's all about finding your inner voice and finding your inner tiger. Again, I'm so proud of it because it's hard work to write a very small book in 500 words and say exactly what you want to say. I know it helps so many children, so I'm really proud of it.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's so beautiful, Nadiya. Well, I'm going to thoroughly confused people. People need to understand books come out in the UK and then we get them here in the States several months later, so if you hear us talking about these books, Time to Eat is Nadiya book that's out right now and for those of you who have watched the Netflix show, which is wonderful, it's the companion to that. But then you just launched another book this fall in the UK called Nadiya Bakes. And so many baking enthusiasts and so many people who love the great British Bake Off, so they will not be happy if we don't talk about that book, even though it's not here yet. What can you tell us about Nadiya Bakes?

Nadiya Hussain: Well, this is actually my first baking book since Bake Off, and when I announced that I was writing this book, I was kind of elbow deep in writing this book. And it was really exciting. I'm really excited it's over now because I really enjoyed writing that book, but it is been five years since Bake Off and it's the first baking book I've done. And loads of people said, “Oh, but you've already done the baking book.” And I said, “No, no, I haven't. This is my first ever, ever baking book.”

So it's really exciting. And I think over lockdown where we've had periods of being at home a lot, I think lots of people have used baking as a tool to distract themselves or just to learn a new skill or just to feel slightly relaxed. I think that's something I think that we found, especially here in the UK, I'm not sure about the US, but baking has been a big thing here. Lots of people have learned to make new sourdough starters and baking bread, and it's been really cool to watch people evolve in that way. It's really exciting because now with the baking book out, it gives them some more inspiration to do some really interesting and fun bakes.

Kerry Diamond: What's one recipe that you really, really love that's in Nadiya Bakes?

Nadiya Hussain: Oh, oh. Actually there's loads of recipes in there that I really like, but there's a recipe in there for a croissant pudding.

Kerry Diamond: Ooh.

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. I'm all about quick. Sometimes I like to spend loads of time baking and other times I like to be like in there quickly in and out, just get some pudding on and using whatever I've got at home. And this literally uses four ingredients. It uses croissants, some butter, some lime, so lime jam or you can use whatever jam you like, and then some defrosted ice-cream. And you pour that all over chocolate chips, and then you bake that in the oven. Because essentially ice-cream is custard that's frozen. If you unfreeze it, it's the same thing as putting an actual custard into a croissant pudding.

So that's kind of how my mind works. And it's as simple as that and that's what I love about Nadiya Bakes is because there are recipes like that, but they're also recipes like a chicken doughnut, which can I just chicken doughnut, need I say more.

Kerry Diamond: Nadiya, I want to walk through a supermarket with you one time, because I feel like you look at things and see them differently than other people see them. I see a pint of ice-cream and you see potential.

Nadiya Hussain: Yeah. There's always potential in a pint of ice-cream can I just say whether you're eating it straight out of the tub or making pudding out of it. I think some of my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night. Sometimes they just come to me. The thing is, I'm one of those people, once the ideas in my head, I can't undo it. And so I have to then get downstairs. And so I look at the time and when is an acceptable time to get out of bed to start baking. And I found that three o'clock in the morning, isn't an acceptable time to get up and start baking, especially when the kids can hear you.

I kind of push it to five o'clock. And as soon as I've got the idea and I had to quickly write it. I've got a little notebook on the side of my bed, quickly jot it down, run downstairs, do what I was thinking about and usually it works. And so my kids then will have pudding or cake for breakfast, which can I just say does make teenagers very, very happy.

Kerry Diamond: Well, I don't know what your next book is, but I would buy Nadiya's notebook 100%.

Nadiya Hussain: Oh, I like that.

Kerry Diamond: I'll be the first one to line up to get that book, Nadiya. I would love to do a quick speed round with you before we let you go. You've been so generous with your time. Are you ready?

Nadiya Hussain: Yes. Go on. Let's do it.

Kerry Diamond: Nadiya, what is the oldest thing in your fridge?

Nadiya Hussain: Oh gosh, cheese.

Kerry Diamond: What kind?

Nadiya Hussain: Parmesan because it can sit there forever and ever, and ever and it will sit there. Or maybe it's the pickled onions that have been in there forever. It might be the pickled onions.

Kerry Diamond: What is your most used kitchen implement?

Nadiya Hussain: Probably my food processor because it saves loads of time when I'm chopping onions and bits and bobs. So, food processor.

Kerry Diamond: Most treasured cookbook.

Nadiya Hussain: Oh, I don't know. It's probably a very old cookbook that I got and it's literally just a tatty old book that says, “Making Cakes," which I never used because the cakes in there are awful. But it's a book that I got when I was 16 years old when my teacher said to me, “I think you've got potential in the cooking world.” And I told her to get lost.

Kerry Diamond: Wow. What is the food you would never eat?

Nadiya Hussain: Pork because I don't eat pork.

Kerry Diamond: And since we can't really travel right now, what is your dream travel destination?

Nadiya Hussain: I would love to go to the Maldives because I have never been to a white sandy beach with clear blue waters. And I would love to go to the Maldives with my kids because they've never experienced that kind of beach or blue waters before either. Maldives where I don't have to do any of the cooking and somebody else does all the cooking for me.

Kerry Diamond: And I'm going to throw one more question out there because you have done so much in the past five years, I can't imagine what is left on your bucket list. You've made a cake for the Queen. You've got cookbooks and TV shows, but what is still on your professional bucket list?

Nadiya Hussain: Maybe it's opening a restaurant. Maybe that's the only thing left to do, is to open a restaurant.

Kerry Diamond: Well, I have no doubt, Nadiya, if you do that, it will be as special as every other project you have done. I can't thank you enough. It's been so nice getting to know you through this conversation and just through all the beautiful work you put out into the world and thank you also for all the positivity you put out.

Nadiya Hussain: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Kerry Diamond: And when you come here, we're going to do a tour of all the little hole in the wall bakeries.

Nadiya Hussain: Yes, let's do that. Oh, that would be amazing.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Thank you so much to Nadiya Hussain for joining us. Pick up Time to Eat at your favorite local bookstore and catch some episodes of Time to Eat on Netflix. For even more Nadiya, visit or follow her at Nadiyajhussain on Instagram. Radio Cherry Bombe is edited by Kat Garelli. Our theme song is All Fired Up by the band Tralala. Hang in there everybody and thank you for listening. You are the Bombe.

When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have one what she is having.

Sarah Stribling: Hi, I'm Sarah Stribling, head of R&D at Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York and sole proprietor of Sophisticated Sugar Cake Design. Do you want to know who I think is the Bombe? Einav Gefen, executive corporate chef for Unilever Food Solutions. Einav is an amazing mentor who has always been empowering other women around her. She is a driving force with FairKitchens, a global movement of chefs supporting chefs to improve kitchen culture. She's the Bombe.