Muhamad Mujibuddin Muda

Student steels himself in kitchen practical session during fasting month.

“It was really difficult and challenging at first, having to cook in a hot kitchen whilst fasting. The smell of delicious food being prepared certainly made the hunger pangs worse,” admits Muhamad Mujibuddin Muda (or just plain ‘Muji’ to his friends). The first year Diploma in Hotel Management student was describing the practical sessions in Nilai University’s training kitchen which truly tested his will power and ability to concentrate on the task at hand despite fasting. “That’s the reality in the working world. Ramadan is when hotels and restaurants do brisk business. Although I am fasting myself, I cannot expect special treatment. I have since learned to deal the situation and I now really enjoy these practical sessions in the kitchen,” says the soft spoken 18-year old from Dungun, Terengganu.

Muji says he has learned to talk less during the fasting month to conserve energy and also to stop counting down the hours to the breaking of fast. “I try to play some video games, surf the internet or watch a movie to take my mind off from my growling tummy,” he explains. When asked how does he prepare food without tasting it, he smiles and answers - “teamwork”. Muji simply corrals some of his non-Muslim classmates into testing out his dishes to ensure everything is prepared just right. Having just joined as part of the latest batch of Felda scholars, Muji says it was his mum who pushed to join the Diploma in Hotel Management at Nilai University (Nilai U), as she had heard good things about the institution.

Though he was initially quite apprehensive about his ability to communicate in English, Muji says that he has adapted quickly and effortlessly. “I know many Felda scholars and Malay-speaking students are worried about their English, but I can assure them they will get used to it in no time. Having to listen to lecturers and classmates speaking in English all the time, I have become quite comfortable communicating in the language,” he says.

Already, Muji is looking forward to showing off to his parents and six siblings his new found cooking abilities. “I really had no cooking skills prior to joining this programme. I hope to surprise my family with some western dishes very soon,” he says. This initial kitchen experience has also made the young lad dream about opening his own restaurant one day. “Having eaten typical Malaysian cuisine all my life, I have gotten the chance to taste some other cooking styles through the cooking lessons. I now hope to open a fusion restaurant which brings a fresh twist to some Malaysian favourites,” he states. Given how quickly the young lad has settled into the swing of things despite the fasting month, you would not bet against him achieving his dreams.

Nilai U was established in 1997 and is co-owned by Felda. Located in the picturesque suburb of Putra Nilai, it is just 30-minutes away from Kuala Lumpur City Centre and just 15-minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The School of Hospitality and Tourism offers diplomas in culinary arts, hotel management, tourism management and a degree in business and hospitality management.