When they’re seven, most young kids can only think about the next TV show they’re about to watch, or how much fun they’ll have in school tomorrow.
However, for over two years, Leah Choy has been diligently baking and honing her skills. Even before she could pronounce the word “macaron” properly, you could already see that this child has talent (Watch her here in a video from 2014 as she lisps “Ma-ka-won” adorably and pipes those fiddly little meringue circles!).
At her age, such diligence should already be commended, but Leah has a larger purpose in mind.
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Since the age of 5, this “not-so-little-boss” has been putting her skills to the test on her Facebook store Chef leah with a big heart, taking orders and commissions for baked treats. Her purpose? To raise funds for her little sister, Adele’s treatment.
According to their mommy Tay Mei Yean, Adele was diagnosed with microcephaly (a birth defect whereby the brain’s development is incomplete) when she turned 2 months old. To help maximise her brain potential, Adele has to make trips over to the Institutes of the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) in Pennsylvania once every six months for assessments.
Leah bakes delicious goodies in order to help fund the trips and the treatment.
Not every child (or even adult) would be able to find their way around the kitchen so well, but even from a very tender age, Leah was precocious. Mei Yean shared with Vulcan Post, “Leah has always loved to help in the kitchen. She started helping her grandma in the kitchen since she was about 2. Like any typical Malaysian, she loves her food and is always very intrigued by how food is prepared. I must thank my mum for instilling that cooking interest in her.
She started having the interest in baking because of her love for Adele. She often says that she loves her sister more than herself. She then at the age of 4.5 suggested to us that we should start learning baking and sell our bakes to raise money for her sister.”
Mei Yean told Vulcan Post that even as a very young child, Leah has always had a good business sense. “She said, people here like to have parties and celebrations, so we should try to promote our cupcakes because they are baked with a lot of love and she put her heart in them,” said Mei Yean.
In a Facebook post earlier this month, her parents put up this statement: “Our not-so-little boss Leah who suggested to have this Facebook shop ‘open’ almost 2.5 years ago has as of today, baked and decorated over 13,500 cupcakes. She’s raised close to RM40,000 for her sister.” In fact, the family is able to travel to IAHP for the 6th time this Thursday for Adele’s treatment, partly thanks to all of Leah’s hard work.
This dedication does comes at a cost though. As Leah makes the effort to plan, design, shop for, bake and decorate all her work, she will get tired. After all, she was only 5 when she started, and she’s not even 8 at this point. There was a time, after making a substantial 120 cupcakes, the then 5-year-old was getting dizzy and had to get help to finish.
Leah is homeschooled, and her parents try to ensure that she has balance in her life, other than just baking. She paints, plays the piano, swims and even does a little bit of astronomy, peering through a telescope at the night skies.
For her 7th birthday earlier this year, these were Leah’s three wishes. “My number 1 wish is that Adele will walk soon. Number 2, I hope to meet Buddy, Cake Boss when we are in America and number 3, I want to fly to the moon!”
Her second wish was granted just yesterday, and she got to meet her hero, Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss and even present some of her cupcakes to him! Even better, he’s offered her a job and perhaps an appearance on his TV show while she’s over in America. He even wants to be part of helping to raise funds for Adele.
Leah has been growing up a lot ever since she’s baked her very first cupcake for sale, and her parents couldn’t be prouder. She went from being uncertain of what to say to a group of 15 kids in her 1st workshop to now speaking to large crowds. However, according to her parents, Leah remains very grounded and never loses her very reason why she started all of this.
Despite her relative fame, Leah doesn’t crave the attention or the spotlight. She has said, “Mummy, why do I have to take so many pictures and do so many interviews? I’m doing this for Adele and I don’t need to be famous. I love my sister that is why I’m doing this. When you love someone and you really want to help, there is really no need to be famous and to show people.”
Of all the goodies she’s baked, Leah told Vulcan Post that two in particular hold a special place in her heart. The first, her raved about super-moist chocolate cupcakes. The second, a special cake created for her father’s birthday last year, a Big Hero themed cake.
Leah herself has a message she wishes to send to all the readers, and her fans: “Thank you for supporting my baking journey by buying my cupcakes as well as sharing my journey with others. If you have a dream or wish to do something, you should put your heart into it and just do it.
Because, where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there’s always time.”
Feature Image Credit: Chef leah with a big heart Facebook