Afshan Ahmed | November 19, 2013
Australian Masterchef Amina El Shafei was given a few tips on cooking Arabic cuisine during a visit to the capital to announce her participation in Gourmet Abu Dhabi 2014.
The Saudi-born chef with an Egyptian-Korean background, who shot to fame in the last season of MasterChef Australia, shared her techniques and was given a taster of an Emirati fare by celebrity chef Khulood Atiq at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel and Spa by Anantara this week.
Atiq, UAE’s first female chef, presented the star with a copy of her latest book Sarareed and treated her to the local speciality Chicken Machbous which includes rice, spices and meat.
“I think Middle Eastern cuisine is so diverse, it spans so many flavours and styles,” says El Shafei, who is preparing to launch her first cookbook.
“So to see Emirati food up close, given it is such a niche speciality, is something I will definitely take away with me. The use of spices is particularly interesting, I tend to go very heavy on my spice use so to see how Chef Khulood blends these spices into her food, is very interesting.”
El Shafei is the first big name signed up to Abu Dhabi’s ‘Lifestyle Gastronomic Extravaganza’, which will feature Michelin-star chefs and special guests, master classes, industry insights from hospitality experts and gourmet dinner hosted by the capital’s biggest hotels.
“I represent the home cooks out there, so working alongside professional chefs gives me a chance to get inspired and take what they’re doing so I can fold it into my dishes,” she says.
“I think that’s why events like Gourmet Abu Dhabi are so important. It brings professional chefs into contact with us home cooks, and opens up our minds to use ingredients we perhaps wouldn’t have usually.”