Indulge in sweets at Fresh Prince of Baklava

“With baklava, it’s important that you see each and every layer, that each layer has been cooked all the way through. That’s the key to the perfect baklava – the layers.”

That’s according to Walleed Rasheed, owner of Melbourne-based baklava business, Fresh Prince of Baklava.

Much like the baklava he creates, there are layers to Rasheed. His background is Egyptian, but he was born in Melbourne. “And there are two things in life that always bring me joy: basketball and cooking. My upbringing was all about community and food,” he says.

Rasheed says that every gathering his family had during his childhood involved a feast. His fondest memories were helping his grandmother cook in the kitchen.

“In 1986, I spent three or four months with my grandmother in Egypt, learning about where my family came from,” he explains.

“I was eight years old then. I was always in the kitchen with my grandmother, prepping everything from scratch – from shelling peas to making bread. Everything was cooked on the day. It was amazing.”

The experience had a huge impact on Rasheed; while his cooking is influenced by both Australian and Middle Eastern cuisine, he admits that it’s more influenced by the latter.

Mixing traditions

The Middle Eastern dish he chose to focus on perfecting was baklava.

Baklava is an everyday treat in the Middle East, but it’s also typically served during religious occasions such as Lent and Ramadan.

“Crunch is so important with baklava, as well as the right ratio of ghee and syrup. Baklava was my favorite growing up. I always had it as a dessert after meals.

“That’s the key to the perfect baklava – the layers.”

He also ate baklava with Oreos, Twix or Snickers confectionery. “Obviously, this wasn’t the traditional way to eat it, but I loved mixing those things together.”

Mixing the traditional with the modern became Rasheed’s inspiration for his store, Fresh Prince of Baklava. Rasheed flavors baklava with traditional pistachio and almond, along with Nutella, Biscoff, Oreos, Snickers and Twix.

back to market

Fresh Prince of Baklava also makes a Biscoff-Nutella combo for the burger chain, Burgertory.

“We typically sell wholesale to cafes and restaurants. We also did online sales during the pandemic,” he says. “We’ve had to put a pause on that because, after two years, we’re going back to selling in person in markets! We’ve gone back to Kensington on February 20, the first market we ever joined.”

With restrictions easing and markets resuming, Rasheed hopes to make baklava a go-to snack and dessert for Australians.

“Baklava is like a donut or muffin in the Middle Eastern world. It’s that popular. I’m hoping to do that here in Australia – to make baklava more available around the country and for my brand to be a household name.”

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Lead photo by Walleed Rasheed.

Fresh Prince of Baklava
4/578 Plummer St, Port Melbourne

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