Elimination Interview: Amina
The audience favourite talks cooking under the watchful eye of Marco, her MasterChef family and where her food journey takes her next.
“Sometimes I felt like it had,” she concurs, “but once I walked into the kitchen I realised that it was a matter of getting focussed again and getting the job done right. It’s hard having to pack so many times over, but I always thought if I survived the previous Elimination, I would be fine with the present one.”
Amina and her fellow contestants had more than just potential Elimination to deal with – they had to cook their dishes in the presence of culinary greatness: Marco Pierre White. “He was certainly an intimidating figure, especially when he was flicking that knife!” Amina laughs. “However I have respect for the man, due to his amazing career and the name he has become. Having him in the kitchen was daunting, though, because not only was I trying to save my place in the competition I was also aware that the standards of all the dishes would be incredible.”
Though her performance wasn’t enough to secure the final Top 10 place, which was awarded to Andy, Amina is extremely proud of her Elimination Challenge efforts: “I loved the dishes I cooked, because as Marco advised, ‘When I eat your food I should know who made it.’ Sure enough my food was a reflection of me. I thought the dishes would be loved by the judges but Andy did the best dish between the three of us, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. I also know that Jules tried her very best!”
Amina’s exit was especially emotional given it meant saying a tear-jerking farewell to Audra, with whom she’d struck such a wonderful bond. It’s been one of the most surprising moments of Amina’s MasterChef experience, and one of the aspects she’s most thankful for. “Audra and I became even closer when our closest friends TK and Dal were Eliminated,” she explains. “We met at the initial auditions and incredibly have become lifelong mates. We just understood each other’s palates, had very similar upbringings, life enjoyments and overall passion for food. I’ve met her family and one day I will introduce her to my family.”
Proud to have displayed her passion for cooking through so many wonderful dishes, there’s one in particular that Amina considers her crowning achievement. And given the level of praise it garnered from the judges, they would surely agree. “I loved making my maamouls (stuffed biscuits). To me, they’re my absolute favourite. There’s so much history behind those biscuits and I was proud as punch to show the Australian audience my favourite bikkies!”
Amina intends to continue sharing her love of food, with plans afoot to start giving cooking lessons later in the year, while her ultimate aspiration remains running her own establishment. “I will be offering cooking classes starting in September focusing in Middle Eastern food under the business name ‘Amina’s Alchemy.’ I am also still hoping on opening that awesome dream of a Mezze and Tea room with my sister Eman in the future.”
A runaway audience favourite this season, Amina has been responsible for some of the most enduring moments and delicious dishes of MasterChef 2012 so far. Cooking for her survival in numerous Pressure Tests over the past few weeks, however, seemed to be taking its toll on her confidence as a place in the Top 10 grew tantalisingly close.