Verge Meets: Big Zuu

It’s clear when it comes to spreading smiles it really is the little things in life that have the greatest mood-boosting effect. In fact, new research from belVita has revealed that nearly half (46%) of Brits find the little things fill them with positivity, over more lavish and elaborate experiences.

Feeling the sun on their face (55%), being smiled at by a stranger (41%), the start of spring (44%), watching funny animal videos (39%) and even hugging their childhood teddy (14%) are things that put a smile on Brits’ faces.

Following on from belVita’s partnership with FareShare last year which saw the equivalent of 100,000 meals delivered to those experiencing food insecurity, belVita is continuing its collaboration with FareShare and Big Zuu to launch its Smile Café on the streets of London, continuing the focus on harnessing the power of positivity in the fight against food poverty.

We caught up with Big Zuu to chat about his career and what makes him happy.


What are you passionate about, and who inspired you to pursue it?

For me it has to be cooking, I love to cook all kinds of dishes.  Having both a Sierra Leonean and Lebanese background, I take pride in my roots and culture and it’s where I find inspiration in some of my more traditional dishes. African and Middle-Eastern food has always been part of my life and has definitely played a massive part in wanting to pursue cooking. 


What’s been the hardest challenge you’ve faced over the years, whether as a TV Chef, Musical Artist or even outside of your work?

Being consistent and keeping the energies high.


What was it like working as a professional barista for a day and what was your favourite part?

 I had so much fun learning how to use a coffee machine and flexing those latte artwork skills – but let’s just say I think I’ll be sticking to cooking rather than making coffee! But in all seriousness my favourite part of the day was making people smile and laugh, all for a good cause and being able to help those in need through the FareShare partnership.

When you learned about belVita launching the Smile Cafe, what about it stood out most to you?

Teaming up with belVita on this campaign for the second year running was a no brainer, I’ve already seen the impact the partnership has had in helping those in need.  I may not be a pro barista, but it was so good to be part of the Smile Café and serving up hot drinks all in exchange for a smile – especially as for every smile donated a meal was given to FareShare. It was great to make people laugh and smile on the day despite getting soaked in the rain! I hope this inspires us all to just be a little bit kinder and think about how we can channel those positive vibes to help others. 


How important is positivity to you? Do you think giving back to others is important even if it’s just trying to put a smile on someone’s Face?

Being positive has helped me out massively in the past, your mind is one of the most powerful tools and being able to spread this means so much to me. Giving back to your community however big or small does make a difference, even if it is a simple smile to a stranger. You don’t realise how positivity has a clear ripple effect in society – within the campaign belVita found that more than a quarter of us would be willing to help others when they are in a good mood – which i’m not surprised by, because it is so true that when you do feel good you want to help others feel the same.


If you’re trying to make someone’s day, like a friend or colleague, what’s your go-to solution?

My go-to solution is making food for other people – never underestimate the power of a home-cooked dish! It’s exactly what they say, it is the little things that can fill people with positivity, rather than lavish experiences. Whether it is a quick dinner or an easy lunch, seeing their happiness because of it, makes me happy.


While doing Big Zuu’s Big Eats, what was the experience like cooking for so many talented comedians, athletes, and musicians over the years?

 The experience has been amazing, and I have been able to meet so many incredible people along the way and share what I love doing with them. We have been able to open the doors to different cultures and foods, and I think that’s why people like the show.  And as of this week we’ve been BAFTA-nominated 6 times for it, which is just insane!


What is: one recipe that reminds you of home, one that you’d cook to impress someone, and one that you’ve cooked the most?

My Mum’s Okra Soup always reminds me of home, Cacio E Pepe is my most cooked dish, and to impress someone, it’s got to be my Jollof Rice.  


How would you describe your ‘Sound’? How did you find it? 

Very grimey, filled with a conscious energy! 


What’s next? What can we expect from you in the future? Another season of Big Eats or maybe some new music?

Little bit of both, can’t give away too much but stay tuned! 


Big Zuu has partnered with belVita in partnership with FareShare, as part of its Give A Smile, Help Fight Food Poverty initiative, which will see the biscuit brand donate up to 125,000 meals. To help belVita on its mission to fight food poverty, and for more information search belVita Give A Smile.


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