Monday, September 24, 2018
News Code : 353134 | Publish Date :2018/9/7 - 23:00 | Category: FORUM

Hijab-wearing MasterChef alumna hosts new chef in Hijab food show
Amanda Saab aims to share unique stories of those within the Muslim community across Asia and hopes viewers can relate to them.

Hawzah News Agency (Michigan, US) – Amanda Saab made waves on MasterChef in 2015 as the first hijab-wearing Muslim woman to compete on the US reality TV cooking series, where she finished 13th place.

It provided a launchpad for her to build a career in food, after which she taught cooking classes, cooked for charity events, hosted strangers for dinner, continued to create recipes on her blog and opened her bakery Butter Bear Shop in her hometown of Michigan.

Saab told The New Paper: "(MasterChef) was an incredible journey and a great experience. I loved being able to connect with other people who saw me on the show and were inspired to take a risk and start their own business."

Now, the US-born 29-year-old of Lebanese descent is blazing a new trail as host of Chef In Hijab, a new food travelogue that sees her embark on a gastronomic adventure around Asia in search of the best halal eats.

Saab was in town last month to promote the show, a collaboration with US media company A+E Networks Asia and local creative production house Long Story Short, together with Info-comm Media Development Authority.

Chef In Hijab, which is still in its production stage, will air later this year on cable channel Lifetime.

And it goes beyond food, as Saab shares unique stories of individuals within the Muslim community and hopes viewers can relate to them.

On filming the pilot episode in Japan, the mother of a one-year-old girl said: "Japan is a popular tourist destination but Muslim travellers might face some difficulties finding halal food. In Muslim-minority countries, it is a lot harder to source for halal produce."

In the episode, she is seen eating the Japanese delicacy fugu (pufferfish) at the country's first halal-certified fugu restaurant.

She also tried her hand at whipping up a Japanese feast with a farmer who lived on a family farm with three generations, but she faced difficulties in recreating some local dishes.

She said: "It was so fun learning to make okonomiyaki (savoury pancake), a traditional dish from Osaka, and putting my twist to it.

"The tough ones to recreate would be ramen because of the time and care that go into making the perfect broth."

Admitting there are challenges in being a "visibly Muslim woman in America now, especially since Donald Trump was elected president", Saab hopes to counter the negative stereotypes of her faith by producing "a show for everyone".

Getting Chef In Hijab off the ground was not easy.

Saab said: "Funding was a major challenge as a couple of networks felt the show was niche and had limited appeal.

"It took the producers over a year to raise funds... It remains a work in progress.

"But with a positive attitude and mindset, you can get through anything. My hope is that the show will take off so we can share more stories."

 

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