Some people talk the talk, but then there are those who do the walk. Meet Aliyah and Latif who have dedicated their lives to walking the walk.
Both Aliyah and Latif are lawyers who are working for the public good. Latif studied electrical engineering at Waterloo University, and after working for a few years, moved to New York City to pursue a law degree at Columbia University. Now he works remotely for a law firm in Washington DC specializing in energy and climate issues for states and cities across the US. Aliyah’s passion (when not making cookies and we’ll get into that later) is ensuring everyone has access to justice through Legal Aid Ontario. Aliyah did her law degree at University of Windsor and undergrad at McMaster University.
They came to our neighbourhood through a circuitous route. Latif is originally from Vancouver (actually just a suburb away from me) and Aliyah is from Toronto (her parents are still in the North Scarborough/Markham area). They had moved out of Canada to Washington DC for Latif’s career but decided they would rather raise their children in Canada. “Having family closer at hand, makes it a little easier raising our girls,” said Aliyah.
“When we started looking for a new home, we had a few criteria. Number one, we needed to be centrally located, Latif does commute to the States for client visits, so airport access is important. I work downtown, so downtown had to be easy to get to,” continued Aliyah. “We had a few friends in the neighbourhood so when a home came up for sale, we snapped it up. That was 3 ½ years ago. Saara, our oldest, was six and starting grade school. Hana, the youngest, was a three-year-old toddler.”
“We love this neighbourhood. It’s proved to be the best choice for us for all the criteria we had set out and the most amazing bonus of having really great people around us.”
“Saara started at Greenland school. It was such a great experience for her. The school is small with a committed staff. With only 163 students in the school, the classes are small and the teachers can focus on each student individually,” said Latif. “We quickly dived into the Parent Council where we met another wonderful neighbour – Elizabeth Quan and her two children. We also see lots of school friends at the park everyday, which is great for keeping in touch through Covid.”
“Saara has now transferred to Denlow for the Extended French program,” said Aliyah. “It’s a great program, but a totally different school environment as it has a much larger student body. Hana continues school at Greenland.”
Both girls are active with keen interests of their own. Saara is a diver and pre-Covid was a regular at the Toronto PanAm Sports Centre. When she’s not diving, she loves to read and immerse herself in Science Fiction and Fantasy Fiction. Hana is on her way to being a veterinarian with a focus on animal rescue. “All animals are important,” says Hana. “And I like to sing and dance.” You have probably seen her walking around the neighbourhood meeting and greeting all the dogs!
When Covid hit, things changed a bit for the family and gave birth to a new venture. “Covid gave us a chance to take stock of what’s important,” says Latif. “As with everyone else, we were at home. We needed to be able to work from home, school from home and find new ways to keep everyone happy and occupied.”
“That meant I had to learn a few new skills,” says Aliyah. “Although I loved to cook, I was definitely not a baker. But I warmed up to baking when the girls, now home all the time, wanted to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe out there. We tried many different recipes and then we tried changing recipes, until we came up with our own recipe. And its not for just any ol’chocolate chip cookies – its for huge ones. We got good at it, really good.”
And that’s when things started to change. “We were getting requests for cookies all the time. And there launched a whole new phase of our lives,” said Aliyah. “We decided to be professional cookie makers – once a week on Saturdays.”
Giant "ooey-gooey" batch cookies were born
“I partnered with my cousin who has a background in advertising and we started Batch Cookies. We have a new logo and an Instagram page @batchxcookies. You can pre-order by clicking the link in our bio on our Instagram page. If you happen to be downtown and are in the delivery zone, you can also order through Uber Eats between 11am to 4pm on Saturdays.”
“For where to pick up, well we decided to make this a serious venture and help the community at the same time. We rented a commercial kitchen in the new Regent Park development at the Paintbox Bistro,” says Aliyah.
“It’s a great social enterprise and we love what they stand for and what they are doing in the area. It’s urban renewal that is inclusive and sustainable,” says Latif.
“The space has a wonderful feel and the facilities are first rate,” said Aliyah. “So far we have two flavours – chocolate chip and walnut chocolate chip. We’re selling out every weekend. We fit it into our normal routine.”
Order your weekend treat today by clicking the link in the bio on @batchxcookies instagram page – then pick it up Saturday between 11am and 4pm at 555 Dundas Street East, Toronto, M5A 2B7.
If you're in the English Lane neighbourhood, Aliyah is happy to make a free delivery to your doorstep on Saturday evening – just indicate your address in the instructions box at checkout and refer to this article or DM @batchxcookies!