In a culinary showdown that will go down in history, Alan Fisher, the Irish chef and owner of a restaurant in Japan, has dethroned the reigning champion, Hilda Baci from Nigeria, by smashing two Guinness World Records titles.
Alan’s first remarkable triumph was in the “longest cooking marathon (individual),” a grueling battle that stretched for an astonishing 119 hours and 57 minutes. This record-breaking feat left the previous champion, Hilda Baci, in the dust, as she held the title for a day less.
With unwavering determination, Alan continued to amaze the world by conquering the “longest baking marathon (individual),” completing it in a remarkable 47 hours and 21 minutes. Wendy Sandner from the USA, the former record holder, had to relinquish her title with her record of 31 hours and 16 minutes no longer reigning supreme.
What sets Alan’s achievements apart is his exceptional endurance and resilience, taking on both challenges back-to-back and spending over 160 hours in the kitchen with just one day of rest in between.
This incredible journey began for Alan after his graduation from Dublin City University in 2008. In search of a new challenge, he embarked on an overseas graduate program that led him to Asia, eventually landing him a job in Tokyo.
Over the span of six years, Alan made Tokyo his home and met his future wife, who would later become his business partner. However, as time passed, he began to question the corporate routine that had become his daily life.
“After our 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,” Alan recalled.
In August 2014, Alan took a bold leap and started his own business, choosing Irish food and culture as its central theme. He expressed his passion, saying, “I’m proud to be from Ireland, and I love sharing our culture. Food is my connection to home.”
Alan’s restaurant, Kyojin Stewhouse, pays homage to the heartwarming staples of Irish households, offering stews, soups, homemade bread, and potatoes. Alan’s vision is to make his customers feel not just in Ireland but also at home.
Alan’s journey to Guinness World Records glory began in March, during his participation in the “I Love Ireland” festival in Tokyo, where he stood inside a rented kitchen car and spent two nights.
Amid the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alan faced harsh challenges. “When Omicron spread, a sudden dining advisory from the local government led to the loss of all my reservations for July 2022. I had to take out a pandemic support loan just to pay bills. I was broke and heartbroken,” he recounted. Despite these setbacks, inspiration came from the achievements of chefs Lata and Hilda.
In response to these challenges, Alan chose to channel his frustration and negativity into something positive by embarking on his record-breaking journey. The preparation phase was intense, with meticulous planning to ensure no food would go to waste.
“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,” Alan emphasized. He also needed to document his record attempt for evidence and expressed deep gratitude to TSK, the local TV provider, for their support.
Throughout this extraordinary journey, Alan’s determination never wavered. “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.”
After an incredible nine days of baking and cooking, Alan had crafted a stunning 357 kg of soda bread and 590 kg of dishes, totaling 3,360 portions spanning 32 recipes. His relentless hard work bore fruit when he received two world record certificates, marking his ascension to culinary greatness and dethroning the former champion, Hilda Baci.
Hilda Baci can hold her head high indeed for performing such a feat in her time and causing a bandwagon of similar world record attempts especially in Africa, the latest being by a Kenyan female chef, Maliha Mohammed.