Big Zuu for breaking the mold in cookery shows

"We did it for the working-class.

Big Zuu for breaking the mold in cookery shows

"We did it for the working-class. "People that come from nothing bro."

This is just one line from Big Zuu, a rapper, TV chef, actor, and radio DJ, who delivered the acceptance speech for the Baftas Awards earlier this year.

One of his acceptance speeches. Two TV Baftas were actually awarded to Big Zuu's Big Eats on the west Londoner's Dave TV show.

Zuu, whose real name is Zuhair Hassan, stars along with his childhood friends Tubsey & Hyder. Each week they prepare a variety of dishes for celebrities in their caravan kitchen.

The show is now in its third series and has gained momentum since its debut in 2020. The show's charm lies in the delicious dishes and the banter between the three of them - and their guinea-pig guests - but there is clearly an urge to push the boundaries.

The show's three hosts are all refugees, which Zuu also mentioned in his Bafta speech.

Big Zuu says that the main concern when choosing a guest is... representation and having a fair distribution of different people, voices that we kinda give life to because our food is based upon the guests.

"So, when we prepare food for people of different backgrounds, we tap into other cultures and cuisines."

Enver Solomon, the Refugee Council's CEO, told the BBC that refugees, like Big Zuu's family, are ordinary people who want peace and freedom from war, conflict, violence, which have ruined their lives.

"Refugees can contribute so much to their new communities across many spheres, and it is vitally essential they have a voice."

Jimmy Carr, Mo Gilligan and Judi Love were previous guests on Big Zuu’s Big Eats. Mel B and Johnny Vegas will be dining out in series three.

Zuu is also interested in the fact that the featured food - which includes Mama Zuu’s jollof and smoked eel sausages - can be purchased easily, especially given the current economic crisis.

"How many people say, "You know what? I'm going to cook what I saw on Saturday Kitchen or Channel 4?" The self-taught chef asks.

"No offense to my peers, but sometimes the ingredients and recipes... are not available at home. It's important that you can make it at home and can afford it for our show. Even when making specialty dishes, we like breaking the mold and saying: "If you don't have this ingredient, use another."

Zuu, who was raised on a council estate in China, says that hearing voices from us is sometimes easier than hearing them from someone very wealthy and middle-class.

Critics are unanimous in their agreement. Emily Baker, iNews's reviewer, wrote last year that the show was "unexpected, captivating, and a bit out-of-the-ordinary."

Its sometimes hectic energy is not for everyone. On the Radio Times Podcast, Rhianna Dhillon, a film critic and TV critic, stated that it is fast-paced, has a lot of happening, and it is a little too intense for her. It was a confusing show for me.

Tubsey, Hyder, whom Zuu calls the Arabian Chuckle Brothers (or Tubsey), say it's important they can be authentic. What you see is what your get.

Hyder says to me that Tubsey and I were clueless when the show started. But they [the producers] said, 'You guys be yourself'.

Zuu believes that's why recognition by the Bafta was so important. "People like us don't win it. It was an occasion to celebrate, but it was also an opportunity to reflect on what we have done. We needed to think about why we were there, and what we stand for.

"I felt it only fair for us to use this moment to touch upon the struggles that led to our success and hopefully inspire others."

He said that people still approach him to discuss it.

"I get stopped by a lot of people, who talk to me about it, tell me how it affects their lives, and tell me that they use the speech every day to motivate themselves. People from all walks of society stop me, including people of all races, Asians, whites, and blacks, as well as people of all ages, posh people, and people from the hood. It doesn't matter.

The lads seem to still have their feet on ground, although Hyder is becoming a bit of an eccentric.

Zuu laughs: "If Hyder arrives at the set and there is no cheese toastie, then he doesn’t film."

Hyder says, "I don’t say that I won’t film, but you’ll get a lot out of us if we have a cheese toastie set!"

Their parents are, unsurprisingly, thrilled by their success.

Hyder, whose family is Kurdistan-born and who has worked previously in his father's garage, says: "They just want to see us make something of ourselves. They can give us the chance to return their help. It's not about trying to repay them.

Zuu claims his mother, who was four months pregnant in Sierra Leone, is "eternally content... she just wants us to buy a home." Tubsey laughs that he's feeling the "pressure to get married now" from her.

They all had higher ambitions before that.

Zuu, AJ Tracey’s cousin, is still making music and wants more acting work. He's currently in the new sitcom Sneakerhead with Dave; Hyder is considering running for office as an MP.

Tubsey is from Iran and his family is from Iraq. He wants to start a business.

They all agree that Rosie Jones, a comedian who appeared in the first series of the show, is their favorite guest.

Zuu's ultimate choice for a guest? Jurgen Klopp is the only man that can win over Liverpool fans.

Bratwurst anybody?

Big Zuu's Big Eats returns Monday, 4 July to Dave

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