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Birmingham cabbie Arif Mohammed always had a driving ambition- to be a Great British Baker.
So at the age of 35 he decided to return to collage to learn how to bake. Now, just as the Great British Bake Off reaches it’s sizzling grand final on T.V, the father of two is swapping cars for cakes. He is opening his very own patisserie.
‘‘As I drove around Birmingham I used to dream of different cakes I could make, different ingredients I could use’’ smiled Arif, 39, from Sparkhill.”
‘‘I have been a taxi driver for more than 10 years but I have never really enjoyed it. I wanted a job I really loved.”
Five years ago, Arif happened to walk past a celebration cake shop in Birmingham and was stopped in his tracks by the mouth-watering display.
He knew, there and then, that he wanted to learn how to bake cakes like those in the window.
“I was so inspired by what I saw,” he said. “I’d never thought I could make a living out of baking before. I knew I had to learn more.”
Arif enrolled on a part-time baking course at University College Birmingham in 2007.
“I was nervous to start with,” he admitted, “especially as I was a mature student.
“I thought the other students might take the mickey out of me but they were really good and I thoroughly enjoyed it from day one.
“It was hard work because I still had to pay the bills. I’d study and bake all day, then work in my taxi at night.
“Finding time to put in the hours for college and be with my family was difficult, too, but I hung in there.
“I was thrilled when I came second in a competition in my first year and won first prize in my last year for a chocolate gateau I had made.
“I loved watching last year’s Great British Bake off whilst studying. But I’ve struggled to keep up with it this year because I’ve been so busy working on my new business.”
Arif finished his course last year and, through word of mouth, soon began getting orders for everything from children’s birthday cakes to four-tiered wedding cakes.
His shop, The Red Velvet Patisserie, opens on Highfield road, in Saltley, in a couple of weeks’ time, thanks to help from a business support initiative through Enterprise in Communities.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into setting up my business,” he said.
“I will be selling fresh cream gateaux, celebration cakes and three- tier wedding cakes, as well as little pastries and individual cakes, I’m hoping to set up a coffee shop at the front, too.
“It feels good to be doing something completely different, something I feel passionate about, especially as I’ll be turning 40 soon.
“I came up with the name Red Velvet Patisserie because of the Red Velvet sponge cake I love. It’s made with spirit vinegar, which gives it it’s unusual colour, and has a cream cheese filling. It’s delicious.
“My favourite cake has to be the traditional Victoria sponge, though. I love baking it- and eating it too!”