Big Zuu: ‘I was a Nando’s griller – it was so hot I was melting like a candle’

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The Guardian

Big Zuu’s Big Eats is just a very normal programme that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A lot of food shows can be a little bit over the top: they always look like you have to go to Waitrose or M&S to have good food. We respect recipes, we respect tradition, we respect cultures, but we don’t do it in a way that makes people feel like you have to order spice rub from Amazon. If you want to make Caribbean stuff, go to a local yardman shop and get some plantain. We like to stay down to earth and cook food other people can make.

When my mum was pregnant with my little bro, she stopped cooking towards the end of her pregnancy because she was tired, as you are when you have a baby growing in your belly. So cooking was a way for me to do a chore around the house: as a young fat man, it fulfilled my need for food and also it meant that I was a good little boy. Two birds, one stone.

I used to diss my mum for making jollof rice. Now I sell it to the public.

I’ve got to big up Miss Johnson, my food tech teacher in secondary school. She taught me how to make my first bechamel, how to make a roux. How to make pizza dough, how to make a tomato sauce from scratch, all the little things I still use to this day. I did food tech with Tubsey and Hyder as well, we all went to the same school and used to do food tech together. It’s sick to see how we’ve grown from that to now we have our own show.

When I was 18, I went on the Nando’s website and it said: “Do you want to be a griller?” Went for my first day with my trainer and the grill was so hot! Oh my days, I was melting like a candle, bruv! But then you get used to it: the chicken juice seeps into your pores. I worked there for about half a year and you smell like barbecue constantly. Doesn’t matter how much you wash. But I used to get 40% off Nando’s, which was good.

I never thought cooking would become one of my main jobs. Rap was my main thing: I thought I was going to be a rapper, do shows till I’m like 50, 60, retire, try and win a Grammy. But instead of winning a Grammy I won a Bafta, so it’s not bad.

My ex was French and her family showed me that French style of cooking and the love of food that they have. We don’t have that same passion for the produce. French people will shoot someone for a fresh baguette. We’ll shoot someone for a sausage roll from Greggs. So it’s a little bit different.

I live with Tubsey and Hyder, so we are all around each other a lot and it is intense. Tubsey does nothing, just like Big Eats. Hyder just about does nothing as well. We had to buy a new fridge because the other one was filled with mould. Living with lads is bad. It’s like a uni house but we’re all 26, 27, and we don’t go to uni. And we’re also Bafta-winning chefs.

Michel Roux Jr cooked me a souffle on Sunday Brunch and, I have to admit, it wasn’t that nice. It was too peachy, too like wow-I’m-making-a-souffle. Nah! I’d rather just have a biscuit or a brownie. It was too focused on his incredible method, less focused on the incredible taste of happiness a dessert is supposed to give you. A dessert isn’t supposed to be liked and, ahhh fluffy. No! It’s supposed to be full of joy. I’m sacrificing my life to eat this dessert. That sounded really emotional, but that’s the truth.

My favourite things

Food
You can’t beat a good lasagne and my lasagne will change your life.

Drink
Orange juice has just become the love of my life: smooth and very cold. I could drink a glass of orange juice in 0.5 seconds. Then I could drink the second one in 0.5 seconds. I could finish a whole Tropicana, the big one, the family one, not the little baby one, very quickly. Not good.

Place to eat
I’m gonna shout out Maison Bab in Covent Garden. It’s kebab but done in a bougie way. Order a fried chicken kebab and they have lovely broccoli. Their broccoli will make little kids have broccoli.

Dish to make
Good tomato sauce though with good ingredients cooked for a long time. The longer you cook it the better it becomes.

July 16, 2022 at 09:37PM Tim Lewis

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