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Modern African Food Ghalia Alia Mahmoud Egyptian Celebrity Chef

A year ago the Arab nations of North Africa were on the verge of momentous change and amidst the uncertainty of a post-revolutionary Egypt emerged a symbol of the new nation in the form of Ghalia Alia Mahmoud, a former maid and cook turned celebrity chef. Ghalia’s warm personality and humble beginnings inspired ordinary everyday Egyptians, instilling a sense of hope in the future of their nation. Thanks to a 60 minute cooking show aired three times a week on the newly launched 25TV – a revitalised Egyptian television station that was capturing and reflecting on life and issues in the new Egypt – in a few short months Ghalia went from being an unknown to a celebrity stopped by people in the streets as she went shopping for her ingredients and other things creating modern African food.

It was while working for a family in Cairo that Ghalia’s talents as a chef were noticed, her employer happened to be the sister of a TV Executive at 25TV who mentioned Ghalia to her brother. Deciding to take a chance on her, Ghalia was given her own cooking show, which is presented in a relaxed informal style. Winning over her audience with her personality Ghalia tells stories, sings traditional songs, offers tips and advice and even has her family join her in the kitchen creating a homely, inclusive ambience. To help her feel at home on camera the studio setting was modelled on Ghalia’s own kitchen. Casting aside the fancy props used by many celebrity chefs, Ghalia cooks in simple ‘tin pots with no handles, on propane burners lit with a match, in a kitchen without measuring cups’, and connects with her audience by cooking authentic Egyptian recipes that are easy to achieve using cheap readily available ingredients that she and so many like her can afford, an important factor in tough economic times.

I don’t speak or understand Arabic, but when watching a clip on CNN’s Inside Africa, the look on her face is just one of pure delight and passion for what she does.

…Ghalia Mahmoud, an inspiration for many on dreams coming true no matter how big or small

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