The Baking Champion

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Raheem Haidar

Hannover, Germany

The journey of passion often begins in the heart of one’s home, and for Raheem, it was the kitchen that ignited his fervor. His love for all things culinary was not confined to the traditional dishes of his homeland; instead, it extended to an insatiable curiosity to explore and learn new culinary horizons.

It was during a special occasion in February 2020 that Raheem’s culinary story took an unexpected turn. He had ordered a cake from a local bakery in Hannover, Germany, to celebrate the occasion, only to find himself less than 100% satisfied with both the taste and appearance of the confection. That moment of dissatisfaction birthed a determination within him: he decided that from that day forward, he would be the one to bake the cakes for his family.

In the midst of the global pandemic, with lockdowns and uncertainty filling the air, Raheem found himself with ample time to embark on his newfound baking journey. He had no formal training or culinary courses to rely on, just an unwavering determination to master the art of baking.

In April 2020, he officially started his culinary adventure, sharing his creations on Instagram, where he showcased his delectable food and cakes.

With his girlfriend by his side as his number one fan and a constant source of inspiration, Raheem honed his baking skills. His guiding principle became clear: if his girlfriend loved a cake he baked, he was confident others would appreciate it too.

As the duo indulged in their passion for baking, they stumbled upon the German baking competition show, “Das Große Backen” (The Great Bake Off). A dream began to form within Raheem; he expressed his desire to someday participate in the competition. Unbeknownst to him, his girlfriend took it upon herself to make that dream a reality. On Christmas Day, she surprised Raheem with a unique gift—an application to join the show.

In February 2021, Raheem found himself at a casting session for “Das Große Backen,” armed with a cake and a heart full of excitement. Subsequently, a Zoom casting followed, during which Raheem’s excitement left him nearly speechless in front of the camera. In the end, the judges informed him that he had come extremely close to making the cut, planting a seed of hope for the future.

A year later, the unexpected happened. Raheem received the call he had never anticipated, inviting him to participate in the contest if he could make the time. Despite the tight schedule between his full-time job and preparing for the competition, Raheem accepted the challenge wholeheartedly. His goal was not solely to win the competition but to showcase the diversity of flavors and techniques in the world of baking. Raheem embraced the challenge and showcased exotic tastes like Mango and Ube. It was his unique creations that piqued the interest of the judges. At the final showdown, he left them in awe with his two-tiered cake—a combination of carrot cake with ube filling and matcha cake with khaki-pistachio filling. The judges not only praised the flavors but were captivated by the presentation as well.

After a grueling competition where contestants had only five hours to craft a three-tiered cake with distinct flavors and techniques, Raheem emerged as the victor. However, his true triumph was not the prize but the affirmation that his creations resonated with the experts and the world.

For Raheem, the journey of taste and discovery had one particular highlight—Ube, a delightful ingredient from the Philippines. His first encounter with Ube was a sweet treat known as Ube Polvoron from Goldilocks, and it quickly became his favorite. The unique flavor reminded him of something dear to his homeland, a sensation he struggled to put into words. Since then, he has been grateful when friends bring him Ube from the Philippines, and he recommends it to everybody to try.

Raheem’s culinary creations are infused with love and a sense of nostalgia, evoking heartwarming feelings. Through his baking, he aspires to share that love with everyone who tastes his creations. His workshops have become a platform for introducing others to not only Ube but also other incredible flavors like coconut and jackfruit.

Raheem’s journey from a passionate home cook to a baking champion on “Das Große Backen” is a testament to the power of determination, love for flavors, and the magic of the kitchen. His story continues to inspire, leaving us hungry for both his creations and the adventures that lie ahead in his culinary world.

Nowadays Raheem uses Ubeness and About Flavors for his workshops. Visit his website for the schedule.

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