If you’d told Nadiya Hussain a year ago that she’d one day be dining with Nicole Kidman she’d never have believed it. But rubbing shoulders with Hollywood royalty is just an average weekday now for the reigning Great British Bake Off champion since winning over Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood - and the nation - in the show’s emotional final. “That’s weird, right?” said Nadiya, still incredulous after her encounter with Kidman at the Women of the Year Awards this week.
“This time last year I was at home not doing anything and now I’m having lunch with Nicole Kidman. It’s all very surreal.” Nadiya has had a jam-packed schedule since the show finished, with appearances at events including the Cake and Bake Show at EventCity in Trafford next month. “My feet haven’t touched the ground to be honest. It’s been the best time of my life,” said the 30-year-old, who has just sold her house in Leeds and is moving to Milton Keynes to be nearer her family and London, where she hopes TV and book opportunities will beckon.
“I genuinely felt throughout every bit of the Bake Off process like there had all been some big mistake. “When I made it through each interview stage, when I got into the final 12, and as the weeks went on, I thought it was all so unlikely, this must be a mistake. “I remember saying to Paul as soon as he said that I’d won: ‘Are you sure?’”
Despite her obvious talent, Nadiya wasn’t the only who questioned her victory - some critics cynically claimed it was a ‘politically-correct’ decision by the BBC to crown the young Muslim the winner. Those attitudes sadly did not come as a surprise to her. “A massive part of me hoped it wouldn’t happen but I kind of anticipated it,” she said.
“When our names were first released to the press, the others were profiled as ‘the anaesthetist,’ ‘the firefighter’... ‘the Muslim.’ “Being Muslim is a big part of who I am but it’s not the only thing I am - it doesn’t define me. “I’m also Bengali, I’m also British, a housewife, a mother and all sorts of other things. “I have to play all these different roles and one of the biggest things that makes me is me in the kitchen, me the baker, and that’s what I tried to show.”
Nadiya will be showing that again at the Cake and Bake Show on Friday November 13, when she will be demonstrating the iced buns she made in the final as well as the chocolate tart that won her the ‘Hollywood handshake.’ It will be her first time baking in front of a live audience, but she isn’t fazed. “It’ll be a lot easier without Paul and Mary - they can be scary,” said Nadiya, who will be joined at the event by 2012 winner John Whaite.
“Hopefully there’ll be some die-hard Bake Off fans there so it will be good fun.”