Amina Elshafei shot to culinary fame in the Masterchef star-making machine during their 2012 season, making headlines as the first Muslim contestant to appear on the show. Her talent as a chef, however, has been a long time brewing, learning to cook as a little girl in her parent’s deliciously multicultural kitchen.
Three years on from her Masterchef debut, Amina has cooked up a storm at local hang, Plunge 46 Restaurant in Summer Hill, and has recently released a new cookbook showcasing her unique mastery of Korean and Middle Eastern cuisines. The book features a heartfelt forward from her brother reminiscing on the childhood meals they shared together.
The former paediatric nurse sees her practice of cooking as fitting into a much broader practice of facilitating generosity and understanding between people.
“Food is one of many aspects in our daily lives that can be shared among family and friends, communities and cultures and furthermore can create interesting conversations,” Amina said.
“The origins of cultural dishes always have a story and it’s those stories that can bring about understanding and awareness between different communities and cultures.”
Amina also finds cooking a great source of personal inspiration.
“It’s empowering to have the ability to try and experience new ingredients, produce, or flavours…and being able to show off new meals to family and friends.”
Amina is acting as ambassador for A Taste of Harmony this year, a week long event coinciding with Harmony Day that encourages work colleagues to develop inter-cultural understanding by sharing food.
Amina says that, in her own experience, her passion for food became stronger when she started learning about her own cultural background.
- A Taste of Harmony runs from 16th -22nd of March, Amina will also be cooking at Ashfield’s Carnival of Cultures on Sunday 22nd of March.