You have a new cookware collection you’ve recently launched with Prestige – can you tell us a bit more about it?
Well, it was a long tome coming – something I wanted to do for such a long time. And the opportunity presented itself to work with Prestige – they’re an established company that people trust, and that was so important to me. In the kitchen, you want to trust your products and buy pieces with longevity – that people will love and will use time and time again. For me it was a no brainer.
When I was looking through the collection, it struck me that many of the designs just made good sense. For example, why are there not more tins out there with the size written on them like yours have?
Exactly! For me as a baker and a cook, I really wanted to be hands on in the design process – every part. Looking at different pots and pans, different materials for coatings and bases. The range is exactly as I wanted it.
You wanted it to perform technically as well as aesthetically?
Yes – it had to stand up to being used all the time, and look good on an open shelf or if you bring the food straight to the table from the oven. You can’t always find those two things together. I’m all about washing up as few dishes as possible, so one-pot cooking really speaks to me. I’m one of twenty-something in my extended family, one of five in mine, and the dishwasher is our friend!
The wok makes so much sense too! They’re usually so cumbersome with big handles!
The wok and the steamer are easy to stack and multi-purpose. I wanted the products to be a manageable size, which can be put away easily.
I was watching your latest series Fast Flavours and I loved the story of the turmeric-dyed yellow ‘curry spoon’ – an heirloom you’d want to give to your kids. Is there anything in the new collection you can see as a future heirloom?
I have cookware from my granddad which are over 60 years old that we still have – if you look after it, wash it properly, these things will last and that’s what I wanted the range to be all about. In terms of heirlooms, for me it’s all about the cast iron pieces! It’s something that you buy, you can hand down to your children – if you use it with love, you can keep it together.
That’s important in our current throwaway culture to have products made well, with integrity which aren’t going to be ditched in a few years.
Buying something and spending a little bit more money on something that will last, it does change your attitude toward it. You can spend the money now and know it will last you 20-30-40 years, you’ll never have to spend that money again.
You’re obviously a passionate advocate for home cooking – how was lockdown for you on that front? Were there lots of banana breads and sourdoughs in your house?
Oh yeah, we were every lockdown cliché going! We even did tie-dye [Nadiya gestures down at her tie-dye t-shirt] – I mean, we were tie-dying everything we could get! But in terms of being together, we tried to change the narrative, instead of ‘we are stuck at home’ it was ‘we are safe at home’, and we used the time to rediscover what it meant for us to be a family. For us, we had stopped eating together so much – so in lockdown we re-framed what was important, and now, no matter what is going on, we eat our evening meal as a family.
If someone is a bit time stretched or nervous in the kitchen, where would you recommend they start?
I’d always suggest they start small. And remember that it’s fine to make mistakes – that’s how we learn. I make mistakes, even Mary Berry makes mistakes…am I allowed to say that?! So, start small with something like a Rocky Road – you can measure, lick the bowl, all the good stuff without baking. Cooking wise, try a soup, you can’t go too far wrong.
I understand that cooking can be daunting, but I hope with my shows that they feel like someone is there helping them through it – it’s all going to be fine!
I was reading a little bit about how open you’ve been about your mental health struggles – is cooking still that happy place for you?
Yes it is – baking is always going to be the thing I do with nervous energy or if I’m struggling. My family can’t work out if I’m baking for work or if it’s anxiety! It’s nice to create something out of that bad energy to make something good. I think people did that a lot in lockdown – and I hope that love for being in the kitchen carries on.
Hopefully people that have not got more confidence with their cooking, that they might invest in better bakeware?
I think people enjoy being in the kitchen more and I know for me, having products I trust is a must. It’s wonderful to be able to share that with people.
Midweek in the Hussain household, what would be on the menu?
It would be a slow-cooked chicken curry, potatoes, rice, a side salad – simple, warming, delicious comfort food. I want my kids to kick back when they get back from school – it’s how I want to show them my love
If time wasn’t a factor for you and you could have a really luxuriant day of cooking, what would you make?
Bread! Probably a brioche which needs an overnight prove in the fridge. Or maybe croissants with all those layers of lamination. Also just simple things like crème brûlée – custard baked in a water bath with a nice crunchy top.
Bakeoff has just been a phenomenon on another level – is it ever crazy to you that people like Ryan Reynolds watch it?
I’ve heard he’s a big fan! Wholesome viewing that crosses divides – I mean, who doesn’t love cake!