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MasterChef Australia: Amina Elshafei Addresses Non-Halal Dish Confusion

"You go into these competitions knowing there is always going to be that possibility..."
'MasterChef Australia: Back To Win' contestant Amina Elshafei
Channel 10
'MasterChef Australia: Back To Win' contestant Amina Elshafei

‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ star Amina Elshafei has addressed the recent controversy around her cooking non-halal beef on the reality show.

The Muslim contestant said she knew what she was getting into by going on the show, however producers were very “respectful” of her religion and cultural values and never forced her to cook with pork, alcohol or non-halal products.

Last week viewers were confused when Amina cooked beef that wasn’t halal, with co-star Emilia having to taste her bulgogi for her. Some fans questioned whether the Channel 10 show had provided an alternative halal option.

Speaking to HuffPost Australia, Amina explained she was offered various meat options, but chose to go with a particular cut because it was the best for the dish.

“You need a particular cut of beef for that. The cut that they had on the day was not halal but they had other options for me that were halal as well,” she explained.

“That was completely my own choosing to use that meat.”

She said ‘MasterChef’ “has been overwhelmingly respectful” towards her and “very giving to make sure that I feel comfortable with the cook and the availability of meats that I have”.

When Amina first appeared on ‘MasterChef’ back in 2012, she chose to cook pork, which isn’t eaten by devout Muslims.

“It was a mystery box and I cooked it for the sake of understanding how to treat the protein,” she said. “But obviously no tasting and I used gloves when I touched the meat. That was for me to try I guess.”

The nurse also acknowledged that going on a cooking show of this nature could be “tough”, and she had considered this before signing up for the series.

“You go into these competitions knowing there is always going to be that possibility you would have to cook it [pork] because if there’s a pressure test for example and the pressure test is based on pork or alcohol, you can’t really avoid it.

“It’s a tough situation to be in but at the same time you’re never forced to taste it.”

Amina was eliminated from the show on Tuesday night during ‘Twists Week’.

On ‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ this year, Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo have replaced former judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston.

There are 24 previous contestants including Poh Ling Yeow, Hayden Quinn, Reynold Poernomo and Callum Hann who have returned to the series for another shot at victory.

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