Irish Chef, Alan Fisher breaks Nigerian Hilda Baci’s cookathon Guinness World Record
An Irish chef, Alan Fisher, who owns a restaurant in Japan, has dethroned Nigerian cooking Queen, Hilda Baci, as he broke two cooking-related Guinness World Records (GWR) titles.
The Records which on Tuesday announced Fisher’s emergence as the new world longest cooking title holder said that Fisher “claimed the longest cooking marathon (individual) after clocking in a time of 119 hours 57 minutes. That is more than 24 hours longer than the previous record held by Nigerian chef, Hilda Baci.”
According to the GWR, Alan also claimed the longest baking marathon (individual), with a time of 47 hours 21 minutes to dethrone the previous record holder, Wendy Sandner from USA who held the title after baking for 31 hours 16 minutes.
“What’s even more impressive is that Alan took on both attempts back to back, meaning he was at work in the kitchen for over 160 hours with just over a day of rest in between!” the Records said.
The Guinness World Records stated that in the year of Fisher’s graduation from Dublin City University in 2008, he was looking for a challenge.
By going through an overseas graduate programme, which introduced Irish graduates to companies in Asia, Alan received a job offer at a company in Tokyo.
About six years later, Alan had established himself well in Tokyo, and also met his wife (and to-be business partner). But something didn’t feel right for him.
Fisher said that “After the wedding, saying goodbye to 30 friends and family who came over, I remember a feeling of being trapped, thinking to myself, ‘Is this it? Is this my life now, to have kids and work in the same company?’ It was time for the next challenge.”
In August 2014, Fisher took the leap of faith and decided to start his own business; it was not difficult for him to pick Irish food and culture as the main themes of the business.
His restaurant, Kyojin Stewhouse focuses on the mainstays of Irish households including stews, soups, homemade breads, and potatoes.
Fisher said that customers would not only feel like they’re in Ireland but also feel as if they are in his home.
On breaking the records, Fisher learned about the longest cooking marathon record in March this year while he was participating in the “I Love Ireland” festival in Tokyo.
During the festival, Fisher stood inside a rented kitchen car and stayed overnight twice, and during a break, he searched on the internet to find out that the record at the time was held by Lata Tondon from India with a time of 87 hours 45 minutes.
In May, Fisher realized that Hilda Baci from Nigeria had extended the record to 93 hours and 11 minutes.
Meanwhile, Fisher said he was still trying to recover from the difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “When Omicron spread, a sudden dining out advisory from the local Government meant I lost all my reservations for the month of July 2022 and needed to take out a pandemic support loan just to pay bills.
“I was broke and heartbroken. To have worked so hard for so long, to give up your own savings, your own salary and then still need a loan simply to stay in business with no guarantee things will recover. That was a tough pill to swallow.”
Despite the recent easing of restrictions, Fisher continued to carry this negative energy as he continued with his work.
“Lata and Hilda’s achievements served as an inspiration,” he said.
In order to channel his frustration and negativity into something positive, Alan decided to take on the record-breaking journey himself.
The record attempt proved to be extremely challenging, even during the preparation phase. In particular, Fisher had to make a food distribution plan so that there would be no wastage of the food he cooked.
Fisher said that “Everything must be for human consumption. My attempt would only be successful if the people of Matsue got behind what I was doing and showed up to support the challenge.”
In addition, Fisher needed to film the record of his attempt for evidence. He was thankful that TSK, the local TV provider, came to help.
He said, “I know that they needed to allocate staff and resources to support this challenge. This costs time and money and is definitely not lost on me. I’m incredibly grateful to them.”
During the record attempt, GWR said that Fisher had to overcome different types of obstacles as time went by. During the longest baking marathon (individual) record attempt, it was his back that caused him trouble. Because Alan was mixing dough by hand, his posture got distorted, and as a result, his back got tight and sore.
Towards the end of the longest cooking marathon (individual) record attempt, Alan had to endure fatigue and sleepiness.
“I peeled roughly 300 kg of potatoes during the cooking marathon. For the first few days, I would look forward to this each evening as it gave me a chance to sit down.
“Towards the end of the cooking marathon however, as fatigue started to take hold I would find it more and more difficult to stay awake whenever I sat down to start peeling. The rhythm of the peeling would almost hypnotize me. I had one hallucination on the second-to-last day. I turned to ask someone to pass me something, like I would on any normal day only to realize there was no one there,” Fisher said.
Despite the challenges, Fisher said that it was the people of the town who supported his record attempt who gave him the push to carry on.
He noted that “It got to the point where I definitely couldn’t give up. In my mind, I was representing myself, my family, and Irish food, and through these attempts, I was sharing our story.
“As time went by it became clear that many people in Matsue were also wishing me well. As if I had been adopted into this community over 9,000 km from my home. How could I not persevere? That was the only option.”
The GWR said that after nine days of baking and cooking, Fisher had made 357 kg worth of soda bread and 590 kg worth of dishes (3,360 portions consisting of 32 recipes).
But it was all worth it when he received his two world record certificates.