She’s never had a restaurant or food brand, but Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel is Israel’s newest culinary celebrity.
The 32-year-old microbiology Ph.D and mother of three recently won the fourth season of that nation’s Master Chef- and her next goals are equally unique and ambitious.
Atamna-Ismaeel impressed the judges with her modern interpretations of traditional Arab cuisine. She won the final episode with a dish of fried mullet on a bed of almond cream, which she called “Sultan’s Spring.”
But while some chefs might use their popularity to start a franchise, Atamna-Ismaeel wants nothing less than fostering peace in the Middle East. She envisions a cooking school for both Israeli and Palestinian youths.
“It sounds very naive,” she told NPR’s All Things Considered. “[But] what I see is a group of Jewish and Arabic people, who are sitting in a sushi class, rolling sushi together, laughing, talking about what they like in food.”
I really think this is the only way we can solve a little bit of this conflict, is by sitting together and trying to talk to each other,” she added.
However, Atamna-Ismeel is not the only person to think that food may just hold the key to peace in the region. Jspace has reported before on the idea that hummus may be able to bridge the Arab-Israeli divide.
According to Haaretz, MasterChef is the most watched reality show in Israel, with more than a third of households tuning in to some episodes.