Deaf baker to represent Malaysia on world culinary stage

(L-R): Trainer Ahmad Mukhzahar Mardzi, Chef William of the Pastry Institute of St Honoré, Hafiz and trainer Junaidah Mohd Jan Jang during the outsourced training at the institute in Kuala Lumpur. (Hafiz pic)

PETALING JAYA: Wan Muhammad Hafizunif has been deaf and unable to speak since birth, but that has not stopped this inspiring 24-year old from pursuing his culinary dreams.

Now the proud owner of a bakery in Padang Besar, Perlis, he will represent Malaysia in the cake decoration category at the 10th International Abilympics competition in Russia next year.

As a young boy, Hafiz spent a lot of time with his mother in the kitchen, watching her in fascination as she whipped up a stream of the most delicious cakes and cookies.

“I was very lucky as I grew up tasting her homemade sweet treats,” says Hafiz fondly.

In 2014, he signed up for a baking course and took the opportunity to obtain a hotel catering skills certificate at Politeknik Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin (PTSS) in Perlis.

Upon discovering his passion and untapped potential, his lecturer entered Hafiz in a cake decoration competition and, to his delight, they won a silver medal.

This achievement has been followed by many more successful baking competitions and medals.

Talented baker Hafiz with some of his delicious creations. (Hafiz pic)

Encouraged by his past success, this seasoned baker began his baking business in the comfort of his own kitchen. He began by delivering his confectionery to small shops in his neighbourhood, the café at PTSS and took personal orders such as birthday cakes.

“While running my mini business at home, my sign interpreter at PTSS helped me join the Bengkel Keusahawanan dan Pengurusan Kewangan 2018 for deaf individuals.

“She encouraged me to apply for financial support and assistance provided by The Social Welfare Department (JKM).”

JKM then provided Hafiz with the necessary baking equipment and a small workshop, located appropriately in front of his house.

At the end of last year, his bakery, Bakery W.F.H Enterprise was officially open for business.

24-year-old Hafiz is now the proud owner of a bakery located in Perlis. (Hafiz pic)

But this young man is not settling for one bakery. His dream is to be a successful and prominent baker. He says however, that his disability does make this dream more challenging but he’s not willing to hang up his apron anytime soon.

“I believe that with passion, hard work and the skills I gained from PTSS, especially in sugar art and chocolate work, I will be a great baker one day.

“I am grateful that I have my own bakery. Even though it is just a small neighbourhood business, it fills my heart with joy. I am working hard to expand my business, hopefully all over Malaysia someday.”

The signage of Hafiz’s bakery. (Hafiz pic)

Hafiz may be the master of sweet treats but he also has a sweet support system.

“My family is very understanding, they know how occupied I have been since my first cooking competition. Whenever I feel a little demotivated, my trainers and lecturers are at my side, motivating me to overcome my anxiety.

“They have even gone as far as helping me arrange my schedule so I have time to generate income and brush up my baking skills.”

Hafiz with a friend when he represented PTSS at the Penang International Halal Chef Challenge 2018 in the ‘Dress a Two-Tier cake category (team of two)’. (Hafiz pic)

Realising Hafiz’s special talent, his trainers urged him to represent PTSS at the National Abilympics Competition. It was no surprise that he clinched the gold medal and was selected to represent Malaysia at the International Abilympics Competition.

He has never allowed the challenge of having disabilities hold him back.

“Never ever give up, and don’t stop looking for ways to succeed. You should never allow your disability to demotivate you in leading a blessed, normal life like everyone else.”

This busy baker is currently taking orders for cookies and cakes online, so do check out his Instagram page.