Mississauga boy cooks up a storm to help people during Ramadan, and year-round


Published April 12, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Mississauga boy cooks up a storm to help people during Ramadan, and year-round
Rayyan Husain, 11, shows off one of his more popular dishes, a gulab jamun cheesecake. (Photo: Muniza Akhtar)

Like many 11-year-olds, Rayyan Husain enjoys playing video games, soccer, a little basketball and going for a swim.

The Mississauga boy notes he also likes to watch television and read. Again, nothing unusual.

Unlike many kids his age, though, Rayyan has started his own cooking business–with a great deal of help from mom, of course–and delivers much of the fruits of his (and his mom’s) labour to members of the community in need.

Rayyan, who lives in the Churchill Meadows area in north Mississauga with his parents and two younger brothers (ages 1 and 6), is said by family and friends to have “found his calling throughout the pandemic.”

Combining his love for food and passion for giving back, the precocious Grade 6 student started his own business, Chef on Saturdays, through which he and his mom, Muniza, prepare meals for family and friends within the community.

He said the idea for the business came about pretty easily, and naturally.

“Me and my mom like recipes and cooking…and she wanted to get me away from TV and video games,” said Rayyan, who dreams of one day being a doctor.

He adds that things got rolling when he and his mom made their first chicken pot pie together.

They began getting orders from family and friends and then sales really took off when they advertised their venture on Instagram.

Rayyan (centre) with his parents, Muniza and Wajahat, and younger brothers Nayel, 6, and Mikayel, 1. (Photo: Muniza Akhtar)

From there, they expanded the Chef on Saturdays menu to also include chicken bread, pull-apart taco buns, nutty halwa (sweets) and gulab jamun cheesecake.

“And it’s a big hit,” Rayyan proclaimed proudly, referring specifically to the cheesecake.

Menu in place, it was time to also pay it forward and help those in need.

Asked by his parents what he wanted to do with money from the business, Rayyan decided proceeds from each meal they cooked would go directly back into his neighbourhood, specifically to food banks.

As a result, the ICNA Relief Food Bank Montevideo, Eden Food Bank and Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive all receive help from Chef on Saturdays.

And more recently, as Mississauga’s Muslim community and those around the world celebrate Ramadan from April 1 to May 1, Rayyan’s cooking talents are benefiting others as well.

He’s taking Chef on Saturdays a step further to celebrate Ramadan by preparing hot meals for local charities committed to serving the Muslim community, Rayyan and his family say.

With help from his local Food Basics grocery store, Rayyan is delivering 200 hot meals to women’s shelters Nisa Homes and Sakeenah Homes, in addition to helping out mobile food bank ASK Foundation and the Muslim Neighbour Nexus mosque in his community.

Of his efforts during Ramadan, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community, Rayyan says simply: “Acts of kindness and good deeds are multiplied during this month.”

Rayyan and his family add that he also wants to inspire others, of all ages, to do their part and give to local charities not only during Ramadan, but throughout the year.

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