Bader Najeeb left his high profile Instagram career in Dubai to move to Switzerland to pursue his passion for chocolate.
Did you know you always wanted to become a chef?
I knew that I wanted to be a chef since I was a kid. And after high school, I started posting recipes and sharing my experiences in the kitchen on Instagram.
You rose quickly to fame with the Instagram community in the United Arab Emirates. Tell us more about this.
When I started out, it was still pretty rare to see a successful man cooking in the kitchen in the United Arab Emirates because it was generally seen as a very feminine thing to do.
At first, I received a lot of negative comments from people criticizing men in the kitchen and I seriously considered stopping. But after talking to others I realized that I could help play a role in opening the door to other young men (and women!) interested in this industry and show them that baking can actually be really cool. Instagram was the perfect platform to share my story with more young people.
What other platforms did you work with?
Pretty soon after I started sharing my experience, I was invited by two different tv channels to host dessert cooking shows. Following this, I started creating events where people could not only see the creations, but smell, taste, take pictures and share. The momentum really started building and it was amazing to be a part of a movement that was introducing and inspiring people to the pastry industry.
What was your academic journey before joining Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland?
Even after all of this success, my parents still did not support a culinary career for me so I went to university to get a business degree. After graduation, I accepted a role as an accountant and was completely miserable for 8 months. When I was approached by a representative from Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland to join the school, it was a very easy decision for me to take. And finally, after seeing how life as an accountant did not suit me, my parents supported me.
Now that you are in Lucerne, Switzerland studying, what is life like?
Well, it’s much easier to wake up every morning knowing that I will be spending my day doing something that I love. Right now, I’m sitting in my room looking out to a view of a the snowy mountains – it’s incredible. /p>
I am studying for my Swiss Grand Diploma in Chocolate and Pastry. I am currently in term 2 and we are 100% focused on chocolate which was exactly what I wanted to focus on. 4 classes a week, 4 hours every class learning everything I need to know about chocolate.
Where did your love for pastry and chocolate begin?
My love for pastry began by working with clay as a child. I would bake charms out of clay for my friends. As an adult I realized I could do this and make it edible using chocolate. Working in this way brings me back to my childhood.
Why did you choose to study chocolate in Switzerland?
Switzerland is by far the best place in the world to study chocolate! For me, it’s the only place in the world to do this.
What was it like to move away from home for the first time?
Leaving my home was hard for me and a big decision to make. It took me a week but then everything clicked for me once I was here. I didn’t expect it to be so easy to make friends. It’s easy to relate to each other since for so many of us it’s the first time away from home.
What’s next for you?
I’ve never been one to plan. I prefer to take life as I go and see what comes next for me. In February I will be going to Hong Kong SAR for an internship then I come back to school in October to complete my studies. After that – who knows!
What is the best thing your Instagram career has brought to you?
It’s true that Instagram has brought me a lot of business opportunities and has helped finance a very luxurious lifestyle. It’s given me exposure to make connections with high-end companies like Hershey’s Dubai and the Hilton Middle East and any time I travel somewhere new, I have the opportunity to connect directly with new people.
But the best opportunity has definitely been studying here at Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland. Today, I’m studying and working in the field I always dreamed of.
Follow Bader on Instagram @chef.b