A Chef, A Tattoo Artist, And A Custom Bike Maker Tell Us About Their Super Cool Jobs

"You've got to enjoy it to survive".

Cover image via Vans / YouTube

VANS has recently launched 'Made for the Makers', a new line of sneakers aimed at those who work in the creative industries

Image via VANS

'Made for the Makers' celebrates everyday creatives and their diverse creative pursuits within art, music, action sports, and street culture. It has been meticulously designed for tough jobs and made specifically for the creative communities that embody them.

So in the spirit of celebrating this new collection, we partnered up with VANS to talk to three Malaysian 'makers' who are pursuing their unique and creative dream jobs:

1. For Chef Sufiz, the turning point was when his father gave him an ultimatum: take his passion for the culinary arts seriously or join the army. There was no going back once he decided to take the plunge and realise his full potential as a chef.

That's Chef Sufiz on the left.

Image via Chef Sufiz

He's definitely come a long way from his training days in Hamburg, Germany. Back then, his tasks included scrubbing mussels and peeling prawns (something that takes up half the day) as well as cleaning the freezer from top to bottom and keeping inventory, all while the freezer remained on.

He got yelled at a lot, was under a lot of pressure, and had to navigate a language barrier, but the experience and skills he gained there are part of what helped him to get where he is today.

"Someone told me that you’ve got to be a little crazy to be a chef because if you're too sensitive or too serious then it’s not your calling. You’ve got to enjoy it to survive."

Chef Sufiz now runs a catering service called Soofeast, which initially started when he cooked for friends and family on his days off as a form of side income

Image via Soofeast

He catered for cozy private events like birthdays, Christmas lunch and dinners, buka puasa sessions, festive events, and barbecues, before Soofeast started to grow in popularity through word of mouth.

Eventually, Chef Sufiz was even invited to cook for VIP guests like Tunku
Ampuan of Negeri Sembilan, Tun Musa Hitam, and Dato’ Seri Siti Nurhaliza.

He recently had the one-of-a-kind experience of collaborating with the Teaffani Catering team to customise and prepare a 3-course meal, served 50 meters above the ground for Dining in the Sky.

He also emphasised the importance of staying comfortable in the kitchen with the right kind of shoes and clothes: "Anti-slip, water proof, easy to clean and goes with everything in your closet. It’s important to be comfortable since it’s going to be a long shift, nothing too thick cos the kitchen is hot!"

What makes Soofeast unique is that they tend to focus more on small groups of diners besides doing the usual buffet spreads, finger food bars, and outdoor catering

Image via Chef Sufiz

"Think of it as having a personal chef experience in your own home. We take pride in using local and seasonal produce enhanced with the best quality ingredients in all our dishes. Food is our passion; our meals speak for themselves. We believe in creating a food network with every feast."

Find out more on Instagram: Chef Sufiz | Soofeast

2. Taco Joe credits his foray into the world of tattooing to his friend Jim Losaria, who convinced Joe out of college to work in his tattoo shop

But his creative influences started long before, from being into punk and skateboarding while growing up, which he says exposed him "into an onslaught of creative freedom from the gritty cut-paste in punk zines and skate magazines".

Everything took off when he started working at Jim's tattoo shop, Joe's love and obsession took root and continued to grow. Today, he's a tattoo artist and part owner of Wayang Kulit Tatu, a tattoo studio based in Subang Jaya.

Wayang Kulit Tatu is driven by 4 all-style tattoo artists who pride themselves on their "individual styles in great respect to tattoo traditions". They design and personalise tattoos according to all the requests and specifications of their progressive clientele.

A typical working day for Joe includes doing preliminary research for upcoming bookings as well as focusing intensely on the tattoo sessions he has lined up for the day

Working long hours spent sitting all day means that comfort is Joe's first priority when it comes to choosing what to wear, especially when it comes to his shoes.

"Sneakers that are able to hug my soles and provide long-hour happiness. Happy feet makes me happy indeed. I look for thick heavy soles that don't break on the sides, mostly shoes that are built for abuse and tear."

Despite having worked on numerous unique tattoo designs for a wide range of different people, the ones that are particularly memorable to Joe are ones with a personal connection.

In particular, one of his most memorable tattoo experiences is when he and his business partner Julian tattooed each other out in the raw wilderness, next to glaciers in Iceland. He also considers tattooing his mother as his biggest achievement to date.

Joe does occasionally struggle with having to keep up a creative momentum on a daily basis but he refuses to let that stand in his way

"My goal is to keep truckin! I want to keep producing solid tattoos and keep my clients walking out the door stoked and happy. Maybe also to tattoo my mother again, I'd really like that."

Find out more on Instagram: Taco Joe | Wayang Kulit Tatu

3. Skateboarding enthusiasts will definitely have heard of Pa’din Musa, but may not know that he also runs Abah&Sons, a custom bike shop

Image via Padin Musa

What started out as a hobby of restoring old vintage Lambretta scooters, grew into a love for custom Harley bikes. It was this love for choppers, bobbers, and everything in between that led Pa'din to take up learning different methods of building bikes.

Through Abah&Sons, Pa'din gets to put his skills to use and live out that passion by building custom bikes according to the various preferences of his customers. He mostly works on Harleys and does both building from scratch as well as modifying the standard Harley bike into a custom one.

The bikes he makes have an extra personal touch as most of the parts used are handmade in-house at the Abah&Sons workshop.

Besides learning all the necessary skills himself and building his repertoire from the ground up, Pa'din has faced his own fair share of other struggles, both minor and serious

Image via Padin Musa

For example, he remembers a time when he hilariously failed to kickstart a bike.

"Tried a hundred times but the bike just wouldn't fire up and in the end I realised that there was no petrol in the gas tank but that was only after my leg already felt like it's going to tercabut!"

But he also mentioned a particular struggle that impacts his business: how the currency exchange makes it difficult for him to bring in some great bike parts from the US and Europe.

But his love for both building and riding bikes makes it all worthwhile at the end of the day

Image via VANS (YouTube)

"I love riding my custom bikes and never get bored of riding it. Plus, the idea of building custom bikes will never end and is always evolving. I want to continue to build more bikes the way I want it to be built."

Pa'din also shared with us about his special go-to pair of VANS sneakers that was specially designed just for him

Image via Padin Musa

Pa'din usually looks for shoes that are cheap and comfortable but still makes him look good and cool, something he values despite working with dirty black oils and in uncomfortable surroundings.

So it's no surprise that his custom pair of VANS ticks all those boxes.

"The idea for the design came when I saw a friend wearing an old style riding jacket which had the colors I ended up using for the shoes. The shoes also have the tire thread pattern that I use on my custom bikes and a zebra crossing pattern on the soles.

The best part is that the insoles have two different Malay traditional poems on them, one on each, written by my sons, Faheem and Fayyad."

Find out more on Instagram: Pa'din Musa | Abah&Sons

VANS wants to celebrate makers and give them a way to stay comfortable on the job without having to compromise on style with their new 'Made for the Makers' classic collection

Built to maximise comfort while still allowing their creative personalities to shine through, these new sneakers lets makers like Chef Sufiz, Pa'din Musa, and Taco Joe do what they love all day, every day without sacrificing personal style.

The 'Made for the Makers' line is also specially designed to be tough and durable so creative professionals who are running around or on their feet all day don't have to worry about their shoes getting damaged easily.

Image via VANS

The collection features sleek, all-black versions of beloved Vans silhouettes – the Sk8-Hi Reissue UC, Old Skool UC, Authentic UC and Classic Slip-On UC.

Each style comes with the following features:

  • Vulcanized lugged outsole for increased traction
  • Vansguard canvas uppers to repel liquid and dirt
  • A contoured, drop-in UltraCush sockliner for all-day maximum comfort

The VANS 'Made for the Makers' collection is now available in VANS outlets nationwide, ranging from RM299 – RM399 per pair. Get yours today!

Click here to find out more.

Check out some of our previous interviews with other cool Malaysians: