Big Zuu on his BAFTA winning Big Zuu’s Big Eats: ‘It breaks down so many boundaries’

Virgin Radio

5 Jul 2022, 11:24

Chris Evans and Big Zuu

TV chef Big Zuu joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about his BAFTA-winning series Big Zuu’s Big Eats and how it opens doors for different cultures and recipes to be represented on telly.

If you haven’t heard of Big Zuu’s Big Eats let us fill you in.

The comedy series follows the self-taught chef and his two school friends, Hyder and Tubsey, as they travel up and down the country in their food truck, meeting different celebrities and cooking their favourite meals.

For Big Zuu, cooking has been a part of his life since he was 10, and, as a child of a single parent, it was something he learned to do to help out when his mother was pregnant with his little brother.

He explained to Chris: “She was coming towards the end of her pregnancy. She wasn’t cooking a lot in the house, so I thought, ‘let me help out by boiling some pasta and microwaving some pasta sauce’. And it ended up coming out all right!

“That feeling of accomplishment and that feeling of cooking as a form of helping has made me keep going.”

He met his co-hosts and good friends Hyder and Tubsey when he decided to take Cooking as a GCSE in school, and ever since, the trio have been perfecting their skills.

The chef stressed that even though he hasn't been classically trained like some other big chefs on TV, he and his friends are still professionals.

 He joked: “No, I’m not Marcus Wareing, and I’m not Gordon Ramsay, but I don’t just boil eggs!”

In the show, Big Zuu and his co-hosts meet a variety of people from Johnny Vegas, Katherine Ryan and Josh Widdicombe to create their idea of a perfect meal, and food is something Big Zuu believes can bring all these people together.

He explained: “What’s beautiful about it is, we are three young, British Muslim men, and we’re going around the UK doing the most British things. So, it breaks down so many boundaries, and we open so many doors to different cultures and foods, and I think that’s why people like it.”

He continued: “I think a lot of the time you watch cooking shows and they have this wonderful produce from Waitrose, and it costs like £200 to make one plate of food.

"We’re in a cost-of-living crisis. People are sitting at home with their family and struggling to get by- they’re not going to go and get these wonderful ingredients.

“But, you don’t want to eat the same food all the time. You want to switch it up and change your tastebuds and elevate your palette. So I feel like we give people a chance to explore different types of food without breaking the bank.”

In the most recent episode, the group met comedian Johnny Vegas and ended up making him a keg of Guinness gravy (which he drank straight from the barrel) to go with a piece of lamb and some garlic clams.

But Big Zuu also showed the comedian a recipe he might not have explored otherwise, after Vegas told him about a pea and lentil soup his mother used to make.

Big Zuu explained: “It reminded me of this West African spicy pepper soup my mum made me and he absolutely loved it because he was like, ‘You have this recipe from your mum while she’s still here.’

"And it got a bit emotional and reminded him of his memories, but also it was something new.”

If you're firing up the barbie in the sunshine this week, check out Big Zuu's top five BBQ tips:

Big Zuu’s Big Eats recently won two BAFTAs at the 2022 Awards, one for Best Feature and one for Best Entertainment Performance- neither of which the team ever thought they would win.

It was a huge achievement for everyone involved, and Big Zuu reflected on how it affected his mother in particular.

He said: “That night, she didn’t know what to say, she was lost. For her, it was a surreal moment where she could see how far we’ve come. She was a refugee from Sierra Leona, came to this country with not a lot and was at this mad prestigious event […] surrounded by people that she loves watching, and people she looks up to, and her son is here, smashing it.”

Winning not one but two awards was also a special thing for Big Zuu because it solidified that he deserved a spot on TV and that people genuinely enjoyed his show.

He told Chris: “It definitely made us feel validated, and I feel like it gave us a lot of attention and let people know that we’re here for a reason. We’re not just here on a fluke, and we’re not just here to tick an ethnicity card. People love us, and they love what we do.”

Big Zuu's Big Eats airs Mondays on Dave at 10pm.

For more great live sessions and interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.