Hope cafe helps man uncover passion

Before joining Hope Cafe, he had never stepped foot into a professional kitchen.

But in the course of earning his Workforce Skills Qualifications Certificate in Culinary Arts, Mr Noor Azhar Surani grew passionate about making food for others.

To earn the certificate, the 41-year-old had to put in up to 148 training hours at the cafe.

"Since joining (the programme), I went to the workshop almost every day to learn and spent eight hours each time.

"I did this for almost one year - that's when my passion grew," said Mr Azhar, who was taught the basics of culinary arts, making pastry, cakes and muffins.

He was interviewed by staff from supermarket chain Giant two weeks before his release.

At the end of his seven-year jail term in January, he joined Giant as a trainee baker, mixing ingredients to make bread.

While most of his skills were gained on the job and not from the cafe, Mr Azhar said the cafe gave him a golden opportunity.

Said Mr Azhar: "Without Hope Cafe, I would have to find a job myself after my release. I also would have to find a place to learn these skills on my own."

His employer, Giant's assistant manager of human capital Cerina Tan Siew Poh, commended his attitude.


"He came with basic skills and hands-on experience. Although he did not learn how to make the same type of bread that we do, I know he is passionate and keen on learning all he can."

Earning $1,300 per month, Mr Azhar is thankful for having been a part of Hope Cafe.

"They selected me because I was eligible, and I took it up because I knew I can benefit from it. And because of that, I gained a passion," he said.

This article was first published on June 25, 2014.
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