MasterChef Season 6 Finale

MasterChef season six contestants at finale

Wow! I cannot believe this season is over! It has been an incredible summer of watching the best cooking competition on TV!

Before I continue, if you have not watched the finale, please stop here! Go watch the finale and come back and read this πŸ™‚


 


The finale was incredible. The top 20 of us were brought back to watch Derrick and Claudia battle it out for the title of Masterchef, the trophy, $250,000 and their very own cook book!

ClaudiaΒ and Derrick are both incredible home cooks turned chefs! They have very different culinary points of view, both bring their own flare and style!

The battle began with the appetizer round. Claudia created a beautiful, truly elevated tamale and Derrick a pork belly with watermelon three ways. From my view point (on the balcony and later my couch), both dishes were elegant, beautifully plated and something I could imagine seeing come out of a restaurant kitchen.

Their creativity, flare, refinement, technique and personalities continued to the entree course! I remember being completely blown away by Derricks puff pastry cage!

Dessert is where things got most interesting. Claudia made a beautiful hibiscus poached pear that was the most beautiful shade of red! She then initialed the plate! πŸ˜€

Derricks matcha cake gave him some trouble and I remember thinking “that’s it, there’s no way he can do it” and he did!

After a neck to neck battle, Claudia brought home the win. I couldn’t be more happy for her, her daughter and her family. I know what this win means for her and what a difference it will make in her and her daughters life.

Masterchef contestants, amanda and clauda, Claudia winner of Masterchef

Claudia won the title, but she is not the only winner. Each and every contestant is a winner.Β Derrick,Β Β Stephen, Nick, Katrina,Β Hetal, Tommy,Β Olivia,Β Shelly, Christopher,Β Sara, Kerry, Charlie, Jesse, Veronica, Ailsa, Dan, Justin,Β Darah, Briana,Β Mateo and every one else who battled for an apron, who made it to the top 100, and who auditioned; you took a risk, put yourself in unfamiliar territory, followed your passion and tried something new.. for that you win!

Life is about taking chances, making sacrifices and embracing every part of the journey on your way to fulfilling your dreams! I truly believe that with God, patience and a strong support system, you can do ANYTHING!

So go do it! πŸ˜€

XOXO,

Amanda

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MasterChef Birthday Cake

masterchef cake, amanda saab, masterchef amanda

I love to bake cakes.

I’ve made countless cakes for all sorts of celebrations; birthdays, graduations, baby showers, retirement parties, and everything in between.

I learned to make cakes at a young age. I received an easy bake oven for my fifth birthday and I made cakes until I blew the fuse in our kitchen! And then I made some more.

For my 16th birthday, I received my first Kitchen Aid stand mixer, because every serious cake baker needs one!

Cake should be fun, bright, exciting and delicious! As Julia Child said “A party without cake is just a meeting”. I couldn’t agree more.

When I learned that the pressure test would be baking a birthday cake, I felt very confident. I’ve baked thousands of cakes in my lifetime and thought this challenge would be a piece of cake. Ha!

Little did I know the pressure of the MasterChef kitchen would get to me.

It was my birthday.

And on my birthday, I had to bake a birthday cake in the MasterChef kitchen. Do you see the irony of this?

Unfortunately, my cake was raw, uneven and poorly decorated. I was not proud of this and it was the FIRST time in the competition that I felt worried!

I had to leave the MasterChef kitchen. It really was not the way I imagined spending my 26th birthday!!

But we all have bad days, we make mistakes, make raw cakes (maybe that’s just me lol) but after all we are only human.

I came home and baked myself a proper birthday cake and enjoyed it with my best friend, my husband, Hussein.

And then I baked a few more.

I called some local food banks and learned that birthday cakes are a highly requested item. It made me realize just how much I have taken birthday cakes for granted. In my opinion, cakes are an important part of celebrations and some of neighbors do not have access to them.

For this episode, I baked five birthday cakes, each different and unique and took them to the West Seattle Food Bank. It was my way of celebrating MasterChef’s 100 Birthday and of putting this all behind me (It’s been hard keeping this to myself!!).

Amanda Saab Cakes

I want to thank you all for your love and support! I have been so overwhelmed with all the love and encouragement I have received from you all. Each message is read and appreciated! THANK YOU!!!

I may be done with MasterChef, but my food journey is not over! I hope you continue to walk beside me as I bake and create!

The best is yet to come πŸ™‚ <3

Xoxo,

Amanda

 

 

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MasterChef: Breakfast and TV Dinner

Chef Gordon Ramsay trying my Mac and Cheese

If you haven’t watched last nights episode you can watch it here: MasterChef on Fox

 

It was time for another Mystery Box in the Masterchef kitchen. I lifted that wooden crate and in front of me was an assortment of breakfast ingredients. I saw eggs, Brioche, bacon, blood sausage, smoked salmon, cream cheese, heavy cream, asparagus, berries, maple syrup and nuts.

We then learned that chef Graham Elliot was going to be cooking along side of us!! He went to station and informed us that he would be making three dishes in the thirty minutes we had!

I made a stuffed french toast with a maple bacon nut crumble, berry compote, and two berry coulis’. I separated the blueberries and raspberries so I could have two brightly colored sauces!

Yes, you read correctly. Maple bacon nut crumble! I cooked bacon for the first time ever and from what I know I did a good job at it! Chef Gordon Ramsay walked by and tasted it and smiled!!! πŸ˜€

I was proud of my dish! I cooked with a protein I’ve never cooked with before and had a beautiful plate.

The top 3 dishes were very impressive; Nick, Katrina and Derrick were the chefs behind those dishes!

Derrick won with a stunning three part breakfast and got an advantage. He was able to selected which TV Dinner the rest of us would be making for the elimination challenge.

He chose Salisbury steak with mac and cheese and broccoli.

We then learned that Derrick had another advantage. He was able to selected one person to sit out for the first 15 minutes of the cook!

He choose…

Christopher!

We had five minutes to gather our ingredients from the pantry and I decided on a Mediterranean style dinner. I made a spicy beef Salisbury steak with finely chopped peppers and onion in the patty, a pistachio and panko crusted mac and cheese that was flavored with a bit of garlic and cumin and roasted broccolini with a balsamic glaze.

I was very happy with my dish!

The top two dishes were made by Nick and Olivia. They will serve as team captains in next weeks team challenge.

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Jesse and Veronica. Two incredible home cooks with hearts of gold and smiles that can make any day better!

Jesse is a true southern gentleman! He is so charming and caring of all those around him!

Veronica is as bright and loving in person as she is on TV!

Both will be missed in the Master Chef kitchen.

You can “like” their Facebook pages to stay up to date with what they are creating!

Veronica’s Feast

Po Boy Jesse

 

Until next week!

Xoxo,

Amanda

 

 

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Viva Las Vegas

Did you catch last nights episode of Masterchef? If not, watch it here: Full Episode

 

During last weeks elimination challenge, Stephen and Shelly were selected to be captains. When we arrived at Drais Nightclub in Vegas, Stephen was told he had the absolute “best dish” and got to select either his star team or his star protein.

Stephen, being the Jedi that he is, used his minds tricks on Shelly and got everything he wanted: star team and star protein. Shelly selected the chicken tenders and Stephen was left with the lobster! He then selected his All-Star team and I was the first pick! OMG! So exciting πŸ™‚

Our team was run with great leadership. We were all given specific tasks and Stephen checked in and tasted as he went along to ensure everything was seasoned and cooked perfectly. It was a long night, so as expected there were some bumps in the road, but at the end our team finished early and we were rewarded with victory!

We learned that the blue team (loosing team) would have to send 4 of its team members into the pressure test and that the captain could not send herself in.

Lets stop right there for a moment. Every single time a team looses, Twitter demands that the captain be sent in to the pressure test and if for some reason they choose to save themselves (Courtney season 5) they feel the wrath of the Twittersphere.

Back to Vegas.

Shelly was essentially saved by GR.

The next day, we arrived at Gordon Ramsay’s Steak restaurant. Shelly saved people on her team that many did not agree she should have saved (from what we saw Christopher and Derrick pretty much saved their team) but it is a game and everyone will play it differently.

So, into the pressure test went Derrick, Claudia, Christopher and Ailsa.

Did I mention this was a two part pressure test? Because you know, we weren’t already feeling the heat.

Claudia and Derrick had some great steaks, were safe and joined the rest of us on the balcony.

Christopher and Ailsa cooked a filet Mignon and in the end, Ailsa was sent home.

Ailsa is an incredible young woman and a word traveler. You can visit her blog here: The Curious Tastebud

 

Next week, we are back in the MasterChef kitchen and we have a breakfast mystery box!

See you then!

Xoxo,

Amanda

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Crabs and Corn!

masterchef

If you missed last night episode of MasterChef you can watch it here: Full Episode

 

Mystery boxes are always a little nerve wrecking. You never know what is under there and you really want to impress the judges and win the advantage.

To my surprise and delight, I lifted the wooden box to find LIVE crabs!

After Hussein and I moved to Seattle 3 years ago, we of course did some food exploring. One of my favorite spots was Pike’s Place Market. There you can find the freshest fruits, vegetables and of course seafood! We love crab, especially the Dungeness crab, so when I saw that under the Mystery Box, I knew exactly what to make!

I made Dungeness crab cakes with a mango and arugula salad and an avocado cream sauce and it earned me a spot in the top 3 dishes of the night! *does happy dance*

Beside me was Olivia who made a beautiful crab Benedict and Jesse who made a crab dumpling soup with a crab, avocado and apple salad! Jesse came out on top and won a HUGE advantage!

Jesse was able to decide who would make a sweet or savory dish. He asked which basket I preferred (what a gentleman) and I said “sweet” and that is what I got.

Once we entered the pantry, we learned what the ingredient was.. CORN! I would have never guessed that! How was I going to make a sweet corn dish?

Well, corn is naturally sweet, so in my mind including it in a dessert was not that far out. I also knew that Chef Christina Tosi has a corn cookie (amazing) and uses corn flakes in several of her desserts, including her famous cereal milk!

I decided to roast the corn and make a cheesecake! The kernels were little golden nuggets in the smooth creamy, cheese filling. The crust was made with crushed corn flakes and corn pops! I also popped some popcorn and made a popcorn ball with salted caramel. For garnish I pulled some sugar (I also added corn syrup to the mixture) and crushed some tortillas for a list “dust” on the plate. I was very proud of this dish and wish you could have seen it.

I may just have to remake it for you all πŸ˜‰

The youngest contestant, Justin was sent home. He is an incredibly bright young man with an even brighter future ahead of him! He just graduated high school and is on his way to culinary school!

The two best dishes in the elimination challenge were Shelly and Stephen who will act as team captains in LAS VEGAS!!!!

 

See you in Vegas!

Xoxo,

Amanda

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First Team Challenge!

First Team Challenge at Knotts Berry Farm!

What a roller coaster ride! OMG!

The contestants will split into their own teams of ten, but team captains will be chosen by the judges.
The contestants will split into their own teams of ten, but team captains will be chosen by the judges.

 

The 20 of us who remained arrived at an amusement park only to learn we would have to decide on our teams ourselves! I turned around there was my team… Charlie, Christopher, Jesse, Justin, Kerry, Nick, Shelly, Stephen, Veronica! Dare I say, we were the dream team? πŸ˜€

Our captain was selected by the judges and it was Kerry! He is an HR manager and is great with people! We learned we had to feed 500 people! Yes, you read that correctly, 5-0-0!!

We were to make fish and chips with tartar sauce and a burger with onion rings and coleslaw. The time flllleeeeww by! Before we knew it, a line as long as my eye could see formed in front of us. We only had 10 seconds to serve the guest, before they had to move on (which means we would loose that vote).

Thru the chaos, the heat, the never ending crowd, the forgotten onion rings, our team communicated and stuck together! We were rewarded with victory!

After the votes have been counted, the Red Team celebrates their win!
After the votes have been counted, the Red Team celebrates their win!

The losing team had to face the dreaded pressure test and make a dozen cinnamon rolls in 45 minutes! The means making a dough and filling, rolling it up into a beautiful pinwheel, cutting it and placing it into the oven QUICK!

The cinnamon rolls got the best of the sweet, talented Darah.

 

There are 19 of us now! Who are your favorites?

 

Xoxo,

Amanda

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First Mystery Box!

Again.. spoiler alert if you have not yet watched the second episode of MasterChef Season 6. Watch here: MasterChef on Fox

 

Our first Mystery Box challenge included ingredients we all had in our respective refrigerators at home. I was absolutely ecstatic to lift up that wooden box and find turmeric, sumac, fennel, lentils, capers, kalamata olives, goat cheese, feta cheese, Greek yogurt, dates, and sea bass.

We had one hour and I really got ahead of myself. I attempted to do too much but this lesson was learned: 60 minutes in the MasterChef kitchen is not equal to 60 minutes at home. You are running around gathering the equipment you need, talking to the judges, and I mean the PRESSURE of cooking on such an incredible platform.

What I did end up making was a turmeric and date cake with a goat cheese icing and a balsamic and date reduction. My plating was off as I ran out of time so it was no surprise that I was not in the top 3. Did you see the top 3 dishes? They were beautiful and sounded delicious!

Dan’s savory eclairs (so creative) won and he was given a H U G E advantage! Not only was he not required to cook in the first elimination challenge, he was also able to save others from baking an apple pie.

Dan saved me! I was never so excited to see a Granny Smith apple in my life.. lol!

Unfortunately, things were not as easy as pie… not even pie itself and we had to say goodbye to the sweet Brianna and the incredible Mateo!

Be sure to watch next Wednesday June 3rd at 8pm (EST/PST) on Fox as we head into our FIRST team challenge!!! Let me just say, I have never been more shocked than I was that day!!

 

Xoxo,

Amanda

 

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OMG! MasterChef Battles!

Amanda, a social worker, feels that she is an expert when it comes to cooking lamb.

If you have not watched the season premiere of MasterChef season six be warned; there are spoilers in this post. You can watch it here and then return: http://www.fox.com/masterchef

 

For the first time ever, there were MasterChef Battles! The top 40 contestants went head to head for the highly coveted white aprons! I was in the “Battle of The Lamb”. Whose lambs were silenced?

I prepared a lamb kefta with jalapeno dusted potato and sumac aioli. In the 4 way battle, I was up against some great competitors! We only had 30 minutes to complete the whole dish and boy did it feel like only 5 minutes.

And guess what?

I WON AN APRON! πŸ˜€

Did you see the twist? After all the aprons were won, 6 of those who did not receive one would get a chance at just 2 more aprons! Shelly and Steven won the second chance aprons and joined the group on the balcony!

I was so fortunate to watch the premiere with my family and friends in Michigan. What a wonderful premiere party it was! Over 200 people joined us and we collected over 400 non-perishable food items for a local food bank.

donations for the food bank!
donations for the food bank!

It could not have been possible without my husband Hussein, my mom Hala, my sisters Deana and Mona, and my brother in law Mohammed. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! <3

My lovely family watching the MasterChef Battles!
My lovely family watching the MasterChef Battles!

I want to send a heartfelt thank you to you all. Thank you for reading my blog, believing in me and supporting me on my MasterChef journey! God has blessed me with the best support system of all and I could not do any of this without all the love and support that is surrounding me!

 

More pics from the party:

My husband Hussein and I!
My husband Hussein and I!
IMG_7991
The dessert table! Milk bar cookies, shatila cake, pana cotta and cupcake by me!
Foodie friends!
Foodie friends!
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My mom and her bestie (my second mom)
My Grandma and I :D
My Grandma and I πŸ˜€

 

My awesome family!
My awesome family!

 

Xoxo,

Amanda

 

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MasterChef Premieres Today!

MasterChef Season Premiere! Photo credit: MasterChef on Fox!

Just a friendly reminder in case you missed my countless tweets, snaps, Facebook and Instagram posts about MasterChef; today is the premiere of season 6! It begins at 8pm on Fox (channel 13 in Seattle, channel 2 in Detroit).

I have been busy doing some fun things:

Podcast with Walid, Greed for Ilm: Listen Here

 

Live Demo on Fox Q13 with Liz: Live Demo on Fox13!

Feature on Haute Hijab: Read Here

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Premiere day is here. The day I have been waiting for. It almost feels like the first day of school (that is, if you are a nerd like me and were excited for the first day for weeks in advance and had your backpack packed with freshly sharpened pencils, a new notebook, all your summer assignments complete and your outfit already layed out). Haha!

Today, I will be competing amongst the 40 best home cooks for a highly coveted white apron! Are you following any of the other contestants? Any favorites?

Did you hear about the TWIST? Of course, there is a twist! We have to be kept on our toes. We must be ready for anything at any time!

For the first time ever, we will be competing in head to head battles! WHAT A SURPRISE!

Who will I be up against? What will I make? Will I get a white apron? Are you interested in an orange MasterChef apron? Get one here:

All these questions and so many more will be answered TONIGHT! Tune in to Fox to watch and find out what happens to this food blogging, social working, home cook!

I will be live tweeting using #TeamAmandaSaab

xoxo,

Amanda

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I’m a contestant on Master Chef!

amandasaab_arbrpictures-6

OMG you guys! I can finally share with you what I was up to when I was away!

I will be competing amongst the best home cooks in America, for a highly coveted white apron on May 20th, at 8pm on Fox.

Here’s a little promo:

A sincere and heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for your support of my cooking, my blog and of me! I appreciate all the well wishes, the prayers, emails, and phone calls SO much more than I can express in words.

I want to thank my husband for his unconditional love and support of everything I do! My mother, for her prayers, encouragement and raising me to be a strong courageous woman! My sisters Deana and Mona, for being my biggest cheerleaders! My in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, colleagues and the entire community for believing in me and for rooting for me!

Lastly and most importantly, I thank God for the continued blessings in my life. I have so much because of what God has given me. Every step of my journey, God was in my heart and helped me achieve things I did not know I was possible of.

I hope to use this opportunity to bring awareness to issues that are important to me: hunger in America and abroad, end-of life care, prematurity and birth defects, mental health, and women’s rights.

Your continued support is so greatly appreciated!

 

Be sure to watch me on May 20th on Fox at 8pm! Go #TeamAmandaSaab πŸ™‚

 

 

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