Welcome to Feast in the Middle East! Blanche Shaheen is an Arab American and former network television host and reporter in both entertainment and news. She reported live daily on the ABC entertainment program called “View from the Bay,” hosted the independent film show “Video I” for PBS for 10 years, reported live news daily for the Tech TV show called “Tech Live” and hosted numerous news and political programs for Link Media. In 2010 Blanche made the switch to hosting her own cooking show, sharing 100s of years old recipes preserved by her mother and grandmother. These were heirloom recipes handed word of mouth from one generation to the next, recipes that even culinary schools lacked–however, there were no written measurements. With her journalism background, she decided to document the recipes in an ongoing cookbook, and Feast in the Middle East was born. Now you can see this series on YouTube, on Curious.com, and on Virgin America Airlines, where it has an estimated audience of 1 million people per month! She has now gained recognition in the press, featured in KQED’s “Check Please” program, NPR radio, the Palo Alto Weekly, the Los Altos Crier, and the Rumi Awards show that she hosted for an international audience.
Given her background in television, and the realization that no shows based on Middle Eastern food were on any networks, she decided to bring the recipes to life through videos on YouTube. She made her first cooking series in 2011 based on a unique regional dish called Mussakhan. When Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network was scouting talent for their new reality show based on cooking and other lifestyle genres, Blanche entered her online program. Within two days she got a call from Mark Burnett Productions, expressing interest in her personality and show. She ranked in the top 35 out of 10,000 entries. That gave her the impetus to keep going with the project. Today you can see her cooking videos on any Virgin America flight as part of the in-flight entertainment!
The more she experimented with recipes, the more she realized she could combine eastern and western influences to make old recipes modernized. For instance, she got a massive response from viewers when she posted her Machos (Middle Eastern Nachos) Ma’Moul Cake, Arabic Coffee Ice Cream, Baklava Granola, and Labneh Cheesecake recipes. Taking classic Arabic ingredients like labneh cheese, Arabic coffee, and baklava to transform them into Americanized dishes is one of her specialties. She discovered that people were less afraid to try her recipes when they had a familiar American ring to them, even if they had exotic ingredients.
Other than Virgin America, Feast in the Middle East has been in partnerships with several networks, including Tastemade and Curious. Her show has also been featured on Roku boxes under the program title “World Eats,” and she also has a popular ongoing Feast in the Middle East newspaper column. The feedback has been tremendous, with thousands of visitors every day from around the world visiting and commenting on her blog, YouTube page, articles, and Facebook pages. Check this blog regularly for updated recipes, cooking tips, information about exotic ingredients, family stories, and videos of Blanche’s cooking journey.
Here is the Feast in the Middle East Trailer:
Blanche is available for recipe development, travel/press events, product reviews, brand promotion, and sponsored posts and videos. If you are interested in having your product featured in any of her videos or wish to do collaborative work with Blanche, please send an e-mail to Blanchetv@hotmail.com
Blanche is a journalist/food blogger based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She got her Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy of Industrial Societies at U.C. Berkeley, followed by a broadcast journalism Master’s Degree (Magna Cum Laude) She speaks Spanish and Arabic, is a certified Zumba Fitness and bootcamp instructor, and a fervent abolitionist, supporting Not for Sale and the International Justice Movements against human trafficking and slavery. She is also a Compassion Project sponsor for a kindergartner in Colombia.
Blanche in the Press–Newspaper article samples:
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