-Interview with Nadia Cassim


Tell us a little about your background: family life, education, outlook on life

My name is Nasreen Chamda, I am 28 years old and I live in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. I come from a family of five and am the eldest of three children. My dad Rashid is an orthodontist, my mum Shahida is a dermatologist, my brother Muhammed is an entrepreneur and my sister Tasneem is studying mechanical engineering. I grew up in Lenasia, an area where everyone knows everyone and the community stands together. I was brought up in a very safe and nurturing home, where love was always given unconditionally. I was taught by my parents to always have faith in Allah and in myself, this constantly enables me to strive to achieve my dreams. I am married to my best friend and am so grateful for the support and love that I receive from my husband Rameez. I have been blessed with a beautiful son, Yusri Zunaid- he is the light and love of my life. He inspires me every day to be the best and to make my dreams come true.  I have a master’s degree in industrial and organisational psychology and am registered as an industrial psychology practitioner with the Health Profession’s Council of South Africa. I have a very positive and optimistic view about life. I try my best not to let things bring me down-always look for the silver lining. I believe that you should do what you love and you should love what you do!

You are an Industrial Psychologist by trade and you have a passion for food. How do you reconcile the two interests?

I would say that I combine my love for food and my passion for working and engaging with people through baking. I believe that food brings people together. I enjoy baking at home and taking a basket full of yumminess and sharing it with staff at the office as well as staff at home. I believe that a simple gesture of sharing a biscuit, cupcake or pie can make people feel appreciated and special. As a psychologist, helping to improve employee wellbeing is a very important part of my job and I often bake themed goodies over festive holidays and give it to the staff as a token from the company, as a way to help share and spread the company’s appreciation and acknowledgment for service and loyalty.

You are a wife, mother and daughter. In what way does your passion for food influence or interrelate with these roles?

As a daughter, I learnt the fundamentals of baking. The basic skills needed to produce a wholesome bake. As a daughter, my passion and love for food developed and grew as I did over the years. I adopted my family’s likes and dislikes especially in the kitchen which in turn had an impact on my baking repertoire. As a wife, I had to become accustomed to new flavours, likes and dislikes as every family is different. As a wife, I further developed my love and talent for baking as I became more daring to try new flavours and was more open and willing to learn new techniques. When I became a mother, I was totally liberated- the shackles of conformity were broken, I began to soar and rise and was more open to really experiment with the unknown in the baking and pastry world. I believe that as I have taken on different roles in my life, the one thing that hasn’t changed is my love and passion for food. It has blossomed and continues to do so. In each role, I am able to show the variety and diversity of my passion and love for food and the best part is that I have always been able to share what I love, with the people I love and for me that is the beauty of life.

Do you have any future vision for your role in the food industry and if yes, what is it?

Oh yes!! I plan on doing a part time pastry chef course in 2017 as I would like to refine my skills and learn more about the culinary arts. I would like to establish a NPO or foundation for kids who suffer from terminal disorders. I would like the foundation to raise funds and awareness through baking and I would particularly like to give each child in hospital a special birthday cake of their choosing.

I am also hoping to release a series of recipe books that will A-use the culinary arts as a means of alleviating work related stress and assisting with employee wellbeing. B-I would like to do a recipe book that enables mothers-full time professionals as well as mums who stay at home to bake fabulous bakes, party cakes etc, with their kids as a way of bonding and spending quality time together. C- I would like to bring western dishes, technically difficult bakes into the homes and kitchens of many women and showcase how you can take something difficult and make it your own by playing around with the flavour profile. I would love to do a baking show on iTV…at this point I have so many ideas, just need to start making them a reality.

For aspiring young cooks, what advice can you give them?

Put your heart and soul into every bake you make. Persevere and don’t ever give up. Your mood affects your bake, trust me! Reach for the stars and don’t, please don’t put yourself into a box. Learn and master the fundamentals of baking and/or cooking but don’t be afraid to experiment with new flavours and techniques. Don’t always follow trends, set the trends! Have fun and stay true to yourself.

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years personally and career wise?

In ten years’ time, I would like to have grown my family, having another child or two, would be so wonderful. In terms of my career-I would like to do my phd in industrial psychology-provided that I am able to discover an appropriate research theme. I also want to have published at least one of the recipes books that I have mentioned above and would love to have my own show. I want to connect with people through different print mediums and want to use that as a platform to help with skills development in underprivileged communities and orphanages. I also want to have established an initiative or NPO where funds are raised through baking for kids who suffer from terminal  diseases and also want to give every one of those children who spends their birthday having chemo or laying in a hospital bed, an extravagant birthday cake- something like the ‘Make a wish’ foundation but this will be a ‘Bake a wish’ foundation. I really want to use my superpower for good.

Couples auditioning for M-Net's new reality show, Power Couple, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Pic: Lisa Skinner/M-Net

The Great South African Bake Off Series 2 (10 episodes)

From Tuesday 18 October 20:00 on BBC Lifestyle channel 174 on DStv

It’s the moment every cake, bread and pie lover has been waiting for.

Bake Off is back and this time, the search goes nationwide in a bid to find and crown South Africa’s best amateur baker.

The tent is up, the ovens preheated and 12 of the country’s best amateur bakers are ready to showcase their baking skills through a series of challenging tasks.

This creative competition show is sure to provide inspiration and delicious fun as the amateurs go all out to impress the judges with their originality and skill, ultimately hoping to bake their way to the final. No matter what the theme, all the bakers must deliver a show-stopping, mouth-watering creation. But after eight weeks of whisking, crimping and piping, only one can emerge victorious.

There’ll be tears, there’ll be tension, and there may even be a soggy bottom or two.

On your marks… get set… bake!