Asalam Alaikum fellow Muslimahs (and Muslim brothers, too)!
We have a treat for you today in the form of an exclusive interview with MasterChef Season 6 Contestant, Amanda Saab! She is another true representative of what a Mighty Muslimah is. Amanda had the privilege of being the first hijabi on an American cooking show (wow and Masha’Allah!), and we had the privilege of interviewing her! See below as we chat with Amanda about her experience on MasterChef, cooking advice, and of course we had to get some insight on how hijab has played a role in this experience, as well as her life. Enjoy!
Asalam Alaikum! First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview! You have been such a huge inspiration to us and I’m sure for many other fellow Muslimahs and it is such an honor to interview you! Congrats on making it to MasterChef! So how did it all happen?
Thank you so much! My husband Hussein and I are big fans of MasterChef and we were watching season 5 when there was a call for auditions. We decided that I should try! The open auditions nearest to us were in LA and it happened to be on the weekend of our 4th year wedding anniversary. We decided to make it our gift and go.
They didn’t ask you this on the show but we really want to know, what’s the food dream?
My ultimate food dream is to have a one for one restaurant; for every plate of food served in my restaurant one will be given to someone in need.
What would you say was the hardest part of MasterChef?
The hardest part of MasterChef was being away from my family. I missed them so much!
What was your biggest fear when entering MasterChef?
My biggest fear when entering MasterChef was leaving my husband and family for so long. We are all so close and my husband really is my best friend. I was worried about how he would eat while I was away! Lol.
We loved how you were portrayed on the show! You came across as so relatable and we were really happy to see that your fellow contestants had nothing but good things to say about you. Were they so welcoming right off the bat especially because of the “hijab situation”?
Everyone was so kind and welcoming. I’m so grateful to have been a part of such a great group of contestants and production crew!
Your hijabs were to die for on MasterChef! Did you pick your own hijabs or did the MasterChef crew help out in that department?
All my hijabs are my own! I love floral prints!
Speaking of hijabs, we know when we’re cooking, the heat really gets to us! We can’t even imagine having to cook in our hijabs! How did you stand the heat while cooking in your hijab?
It actually didn’t bother me and I didn’t notice how hot it was until we were at Knott’s Berry Farm and in the sun for several hours. But overall the heat didn’t bother me anyway. 😉 Yes that’s a Frozen reference! Lol
So, this is something we’re sure we all can relate to. The Muslim culture doesn’t quite see the culinary world as a career. We can imagine our own fathers saying (insert accent), “You want to cook, you cook after you are married.” Did you have any pushback from family in pursuing a career in cooking? If so, how did you convince them?
I’m so blessed that my parents have supported me in everything I wanted to do. I completed college and started my career in social work before deciding to move towards a career in food. Everyone has been supportive.
What advice would you give to non-cooks or someone with not much experience in cooking/baking?
Just do it! Get in your kitchen, try an easy recipe (from http://amandasplate.com) and ask questions! The more you do the better you’ll get!
What have you been up to post-MasterChef?
I’ve been blogging a lot and am currently working on my start up! Stay tuned for exciting news in the next few months inshAllah!
One of your recent posts mentioned that you had donated cakes to a food bank. We thought that was a fantastic idea and we don’t think many people would have thought of that! What are some other causes you support and how can the rest of us get involved?
Hunger is a big one for me. Being a food blogger and having more than enough to eat, it really strikes a cord that so many Americans, our own neighbors and friends, may not have enough to eat each day. Reach out to your local food banks and help in any way you can! Being a social worker in the neonatal intensive care unit, I’m also an advocate for the March of Dimes. An organization working towards ending premature births and supporting families who do have premature babies. I will be creating a signature dish for their Chefs Signature Event this October in Seattle! If you’re in the area, please join me!
So since Eid is around the corner, what are some of your favorite things to cook?
I love baking for Eid and have many recipes to choose from on my blog!
So we’re doing this thing on our site where we’re sharing the story of how we came to wear hijab, would you like to share yours?
I began wearing hijab after praying on the great night of power when I was a sophomore in high school. I always knew I wanted to wear hijab and at the moment in prayer, I knew it was the right time.
Thank you so much once again for taking the time out for answering our questions. We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.
We hope you all enjoyed our interview with MasterChef Season 6 Contestant Amanda Saab. Be sure to check out Amanda’s blog (Amanda’s Plate) which features all her yummy recipes, and follow her on Twitter (@amandasplate) and Instagram (@amandasplate). While you’re at it, follow us as well on Twitter (@mightymuslimahs) and Instagram (@mightymorphinmuslimahs).