Raising the chocolate bar - Celebrating World Chocolate Day on July 7.
Naheed Ahmed is making a name for himself in the world of chocolate. At the tender age of 30, he is the founder and managing director of The Chocolate Bar, an artisan chocolate company based in Nairobi, Kenya that manufactures a wide range of high-quality chocolate products.
Ahmed started his journey to chocolate maker after graduating from Capsicum Culinary Studio, having undertaken the culinary school’s International Professional Chef Management diploma, Professional Patisserie Programme, Advanced Professional Chef Management Programme and Professional Chocolate Arts & Confectionary Programme.
“As a child, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen hanging around my late grandmother, whom we called ‘Maa’, watching her work her magic,” says Ahmed. “At the time, she was a professional chef and served as an executive chef in various institutions as well as working at 5-star hotels in Nairobi."
“Her love and passion for food was immense, and she would spend many late hours whipping up something in preparation for the next day. She found peace and happiness in the kitchen, and like all grandmothers took pride in feeding her family. I believe she was my greatest inspiration, along with my everlasting love for good food.”
After completing high school, Ahmed decided that his future lay in a career in the culinary world and he enrolled at Capsicum’s Cape Town campus as a foreign student.
“My time at Capsicum was great! The facilities, the equipment and the quality of lecturers was second to none and they had an extensive list of courses suitable for a chef student like me to explore all areas of the culinary world.”
After graduating at the end of 2013, Ahmed returned home to Nairobi and the start of his entrepreneurial journey.
“I started a small chocolate company in 2014, where we made gourmet pralines, truffles and bonbons and had a small chocolate shop at The Village Market Mall in Nairobi. The kitchen where I made the products was only 55 square metres and I had one employee.”
Fast forward to 2021 and Ahmed now oversees a factory 10 times that size and employs nine additional workers, manufacturing chocolate from bean to bar and creating products from truffles to pralines, slabs to spreads and drinking chocolate to ice-cream.
“Our products can now be found in supermarkets around the country, in a few health shops in the UAE and has also made it to all parts of the world through sales via the duty-free shops in Kenya. We also supply to hotels chains and coffee shops around the country,” he says.
Where does Ahmed see himself in five years’ time?
“With continuous investment towards improving our facilities, I hope to increase the annual manufacturing capability from the current five to six tonnes we produce annually to around 20 tonnes or more.”
What would Maa think of her little kitchen helper now?
“I think she would be most proud, and I’m sure she lays her guidance over me from the heavens above.”
To celebrate World Chocolate Day - which takes place every year on July 7 - Ahmed shared with us his recipe for the ultimateChocolate Chip Cookie.
Ahmed’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a mixing bowl combine butter, both sugars and cream together.
Add the eggs one at a time while mixing well at each addition. Add vanilla extract
In a separate mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda and mix together.
Mix the dry ingredients in thirds into the butter mixture to blend.
Fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula or wooden spoon.
Using a trigger release ice cream scoop, portion the cookie dough onto a lined sheet pan leaving 3-5cm gaps between each cookie.
Bake one sheet at a time at 175°C for 13-15 mins or until the cookies are golden brown.
For more on The Chocolate Bar, visit https://thechocolatebar.co.ke/
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If you are interested in following a career in food contact Capsicum at one of its six campuses or go to www.capsicumcooking.com
And if you want to hone your cooking skills even further then think about Capsicum Culinary Studios internationally recognised and accredited Chef 101 course which you can do from the comfort of your own home.This top international digital learning platformguides users through culinary technique building blocks, giving them the ability to launch themselves into further studies, a career as a chef or to become an amazing home cook. Chef 101 includes 20 cooking courses.To find out more information or to register go to www.capsicumcooking.com and click on 'Online Courses'.
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