Taking a different path toward success is not always easy - but Sheikh Abdurrazzaq, also known endearingly by his friends as Sheikh or Shake
, has bravely decided to take the road less travelled. Although he now runs his own little bakery
, the journey for Sheikh hasn't always been smooth. From dropping out of school twice to naming his bakery after his travels around Cairo, Sheikh's journey to find himself has been a tough one.
The 24-Year-Old Halal Choux Pastry Chef
Sheikh first started baking at 16, when he had to bake meringue cookies
to raise funds for a school trip back to Morocco
, ''I found baking to be very therapeutic, it felt like I finally knew what I wanted to do.'' However, deciding to focus on his studies, he didn't pick up the passion properly till 2020. In 2020, he dropped out of Shatec, after having previously left university.
Credit: Helwakeda ''I was from a madrasah and decided to further my studies in Cairo. I studied Arabic for a year at Al-sheikh Zayed Centre for Non-natives and then Islamic jurisprudence in ALAZHAR UNIVERSITY for 2 years. However, I found it difficult to continue. I just knew that it was not meant for me. After university, I tried my luck with Shatec but did not feel comfortable handling non-halal ingredients during my internship and found myself in a slump, so I dropped out of that as well,'' Sheikh told HHWT.
Fortunately, the 24-year-old bounced back! Taking up 2 part-time jobs back home as a tuition teacher and a chef in a
food stall, Sheikh would start work at 5 am and end at 10 am at the food stall, before resting up and teaching tuition at night.
The Starving Baker
The baking bug egged him on, though, ''It (Baking) helped me gain some purpose in life,'' said Sheikh. So he pushed on. That was when he decided to start HELWAKEDA.
Initially starting the brand as a way to give out free bakes and goodies to his followers and loved ones, he slowly found himself taking orders and making it an honest side business. Harnessing the skills he gained from Shatec, Sheikh started exploring his passion. The journey toward what his bakery is now though took a bit of time.
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''When I started baking passionately, I failed countless times and spent so much money to the point I cried myself to sleep almost every night. Every time I did something wrong, I would feel like a failure. I even started distancing myself from people. However, what kept me going and motivated was the fact that I had tasted failure twice (by dropping out of university and Shatec) and I knew I could do this. I also didn't want to lose my dream of starting my own bakery.''
The Journey Toward HELWAKEDA
Initially selling all sorts of tarts
and even focaccia bread
, he eventually found his calling - Choux
! ''I chose choux and tarts because I like to play with flavours/fillings and they are also so aesthetically pleasing to make and look at! Most of the flavours I sell were requested by my friends, family and also TikTok followers.''
Inspired by his time in Cairo, he named his bakery HELWAKEDA, or ''this is sweet'', a commonly used term in Egypt. Also an expression of deliciousness and taste, he couldn't have found a more appropriate name for his bakery!
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With a renewed sense of vision and confidence, it seems Sheikh has also managed to overcome many other difficulties that have come his way, storage and space being one of them. Although he mainly bakes in the kitchen, sometimes his baking activities even spill over to his bedroom! Don't worry, though. His bakery is WSQ-Food Hygiene Certified ?
''The major difficulty that I'm currently facing is the fact that my home-based business means handling a small limited space/storage at home. Baking that can be done in 2 hours takes me 4 hours because of limited storage space. I'm saving up for a fridge and extra oven!''
Beautiful TikToks, Inspirations & A Future Bakery!
Marketing his brand beyond Instagram, Sheikh has a strong fanbase on Tiktok - and that's no surprise! His TikTok videos look like they've come out of an advertisement, and give you an inside look into a home-based bakery's processes. Sheikh even captures snippets of his life on the page, making it for an interesting follow. He also hopes that his videos inspire others to follow their dreams despite any setbacks, especially future bakers!
''Just start,'' he told
us, ''Whether it's successful or not, it's a different story - but just start. It's never too late. Ignore those who don't believe you, because, at the end of the day, you only have God and yourself.''
Hoping to open his own bakery one day and give back to the community with food, Sheikh has no doubt defeated the many negative stereotypes that surround dropouts. Striving to find his passions has not been easy, and it's incredibly admirable that Sheikh has managed to create his own safe space after much difficulty!
In line with his Egpytian-inspired bakery, Sheikh hopes to one day explore more Middle Eastern countries and learn to make authentic Middle Eastern desserts such as kunafah! He also hopes to earn enough to bring his parents to Umrah
If you're interested in supporting Sheikh & his future endeavours, check out his Instagram, @helwakeda
! He takes orders on Wednesdays at 6 pm for all sorts of delicious choux flavours. From Mango Cream Cheese Choux to Smores Choux, there's a little something for everyone. HHWT recommends the Strawberry Cream Cheese, by the way. It's sweet, delicate and delicious ?