Amina Elshafei first won Australia’s hearts when she appeared as a contestant on Masterchef Australia in 2012. Not only was she the shows first Muslim contestant and an infectiously positive competitor, but her cooking style captivated audiences as she drew influences from both her Egyptian and Korean heritage. Since the show, Amina has continued to follow her love of cooking. We caught up with her to find out what she has been doing.

Amina coral medium

Images courtesy of Liverpool City Council

You’ve been really busy since Masterchef in 2012. What are some of the other projects that you’ve had going on and where in the world have they taken you?
I have spent some time food writing for the Australian Women’s Weekly, which included recipes accompanied by little stories. I have also been doing some food photography, developing my website and working on my first cookbook. Some of the invited food travelling I have done has been to Malaysia, Pakistan, London, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

You’ve got a really interesting cultural background, which obviously has a huge influence on your cooking style. Aside from Korean and Egyptian, what other cuisines do you enjoy cooking and eating?
Italian! My father comes from Alexandria in Egypt’s north where there is a strong Italian influence.  I also enjoy cooking Chinese cuisine, eating Japanese and I am currently learning more about food from Malay and the south Asian region which I am loving.

What type of food do you cook at your cooking demonstrations?
I like to cook a variety of food at demos and not always sticking to my cultural foods. I cook foods appropriate to the season and time. For example, at the Liverpool Night Markets on Saturday night, I will be cooking something that the audience will be able to make at home the following day for Sunday brunch.

Being from the Western Sydney Food Blog, we obviously have a huge passion for food in the region. What do you enjoy about the food on offer in western Sydney?
The ethnic and cultural foods! I am originally from the inner west which is more about fusion food, whereas the west has more cuisine that is very true to the natural culture and is great value.

What is your favourite restaurant in western Sydney?
I don’t have a single favourite restaurant in western Sydney, but I absolutely love Cabramatta for the amazing restaurants and ingredients available.

Who is your favourite renowned/celebrity chef?
I have three:
Claudia Roden – She is a very famous cookbook writer and anthropologist. She is a unique recipe writer with a story writing style. Her recipes are very similar to my grandmothers.
Yotam Ottolenghi – He was here for Good Food Month. He has a number of restaurants in London and is another chef who has fascinating stories woven into food. His new cookbook is called Jerusalem.
Maggie Beer – She is a fabulous cook!

What are your food aspirations for the future?
More food writing and I still have the travel bug so I will continue to share my food and learn through travel. Nursing is also still a major passion. It will take something really big to ever drag me away from that.

We wish Amina all the best with her future food endevours!