Fathin Anas Mohamad
East Coast lass dares to enter the heat of the kitchen despite asthmatic condition.
“My mum says that we cannot let ill health take control of our lives. We must not dwell on it and must always try to experience new things. Otherwise we might as well sit at home and wither away,” says Fathin Anas Mohamad (Nilai University Diploma in Culinary Arts) defiantly. She was referring to her asthmatic condition and how the heat of the kitchen can be quite daunting. But she says her experience since enrolling in January 2013 has been thoroughly positive thus far. Fathin is especially grateful to her classmates and lecturers during practical sessions that make concessions for her condition. “I explained my condition to my lecturer and he told me not to worry, and to take a break whenever the practical sessions got too overwhelming. My classmates will also usually help me along or wait for me to catch my breath,” she says. “But I am slowly but surely getting used to the heat and high pressure environment of the kitchen. I am quite enjoying it actually.”
The 20-year old had actually studied Theatre at the Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan (Aswara) for two years before quitting to join the Diploma in Culinary Arts programme. She quit her initial programme because she was tired and frustrated of the petty politicking among students. “Also, the stage production would require students to work into the wee hours of the morning and it was much more tiring than what I am doing now,” says the Kota Bahru native. She is especially grateful to her parents for supporting her decision to switch programmes. “It was my mum who advised me to take up Culinary Arts noticing that I am constantly glued to the cooking shows on TV,” she says. Fathin also credits her mum for inculcating a passion in cooking in her from an early age when she was taught how to bake. The matriarch made some online enquiries and also spoke to friends and relatives who had sent children to Nilai University (Nilai U).
A visit to the scenic campus in Putra Nilai convinced that Fathin’s parents that this was the place for their daughter. “I think it was because it is so quiet and peaceful and there was on-campus accommodation which made them feel safe sending me here,” she says. For Fathin, her mind was made up when she spoke to a lecturer from Nilai U’s School of Hospitality and Tourism. He is so friendly and approachable and his passion for food is infectious. “In fact, it is his Menu Planning class which I now enjoy the most as he is always so jovial and makes classes interesting and fun.”
Her long term plans are to pursue Nilai U’s BA (Hons) in Business and Hospitality Management after completing her diploma. She believes that additional qualifications are essential in today’s working environment. Of course, like any budding chef, Fathin dreams of having her own restaurant some day. “My parents have told me to be patient and to complete my studies and get some work experience first,” she says. For the moment she is busy enjoying campus life and making new friends. “I am intend to be a top chef some day and I won’t let my asthma stop me. It is what I want to do and I want to tell everyone who has a passion for food and cooking to check out Nilai U!”
Nilai U is located in the picturesque suburb of Putra Nilai, just 35 minutes south of Kuala Lumpur City Centre. It was established in 1997 and was granted full ‘university’ status last year. It is also rated Setara 5 by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.