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Big Zuu on growing up, cooking and the importance of understanding money

The musician and TV chef chats to ShortList...

Big Zuu on growing up, cooking and the importance of understanding money

Big Zuu is a busy man. The double BAFTA award winner is a rapper, songwriter, DJ, TV chef and owner of production company Big Productions.

He's also added another string to his belt. He stars in a new series of videos that he hopes will demystify financial jargon for a younger audience.

It's something that is sorely needed: A new study by Klarna reveals millions of UK adults (40 per cent) think mastering money terms is harder than learning to speak a new language.

The study of 2,000 adults found 64 per cent of Gen Z believe picking up basic foreign words is easier than mastering money terms like APR, capital gains and compound interest.

Big Zuu's series, in association with Klarna, is called Financial Takeaway and he stars alongside finance expert Bola Sol and uses his love of food to breakdown the intricacies of money.

Or as he tells ShortList, "I hope that by breaking down acronyms like AER and make ‘interest’ more interesting with a recipe, will make some of these finance terms stick more easily".

To get an understanding of why this is an important issue for him, we spoke to Big Zuu about his career, his love of food and why understanding money really does matter...

ShortList: We love how you are using food to normalise what is a complicated subject - how else has food helped you tackle the more difficult aspects of life?

Big Zuu: When I was younger, we lived in temporary housing and moved all over London which, looking back, was a difficult time. I grew up in a single-parent household and we were poor, but we always had fresh food to eat and that was important. When I was about nine, and my mum was pregnant with my little brother, I wanted to help her out more, so I started cooking breakfast. Breakfast was a big meal for me when I was young, and my passion for cooking developed from there.

SL: Your videos have always been about simplifying cooking and making it fun - how do you normally go about creating your recipes?

BZ: I always try and create simple dishes with maximum flavour. Whether it’s Italian, Middle Eastern or West African recipes, where my mum is from, food comes alive when you add fresh ingredients and a lot of passion.

SL: You have mention that you learned the hard way about finances, because schools don't equip you with those skills. It feels like cooking also is underrepresented in the curriculum - would you want to see more practical, real-life skill taught at an earlier age?

BZ: I actually did a GCSE in food tech at school so that was an option I was able to pursue. But you’re right, a lot of skills I learned about life were actually taught to me at youth clubs, not in school. I think it’s really important that we’re taught basic skills like how to manage your finances, budget and spend wisely because everyone has to do this throughout their adult lives.

SL: How did you first get into cooking - and what made you decide that making videos and shows was the way forward for you?

BZ: As I said, I started cooking from an early age and realised you don’t need a Michelin star education to be able to chef up some good food. I started out in radio and made a name for myself as a grime MC. I thought music was going to be my destiny, but when I started posting cooking videos on my socials, the commissioner at UKTV noticed and Big Zuu’s Eats was born. It’s mad but I now have my own production company, Big Productions and I’m a double BAFTA award winner!

SL: We love the taco you cook in the video series - is this your favourite thing to cook?

BZ: Honestly, I can’t name one favourite dish to cook ‘cos I love so many different flavours and styles. Tacos are good though and easy... except when Bola made one in our Financial Takeaway Series. It was terrible. (Haha joking!!)

SL: What ‘financial takeaway’ can you give to our readers? - a little tidbit that might help their money go further.

BZ: I would say learning financial language is really important, so you always know what you’re getting into. Klarna is on a mission to make the whole financial industry more transparent, and that can only be a good thing. Knowledge is power!