Tabassum Wyne grew up watching The Food Network. At the time, says Wyne, “I hardly saw any people of colour or visible Muslims.” In particular, she didn’t see women with whom she could identify. This would later motivate her greatly in food, in Canadian politics, and in her life in general.
Wyne has a background in Accounting but it was her appetite for food stories, people, and programming that really inspired her sense of self. Wyne started food blogging professionally five years ago, launching Kashmiri Foodie. Soon thereafter, brands were knocking on her door as were followers. Wyne became immersed in branding, recipe development and lifestyle commentary. Kashmiri Foodie is where Wyne, in her words, “shares easy and healthy recipes, fitness tips, and lifestyle inspiration.” She is also a mom of two little ones who have been her “inspiration to get healthy.”
Wyne has built her small empire on the blogosphere. She cultivated a sense of responsibility as an influencer, which led her to branch into diversity and inclusion consultancy, politics, and advocacy in representation for BIPOC and Canadian Muslims.
Wyne’s talent and activism have presented her with many opportunities. Most recently Food Network Canada issued a website casting call for its program Wall of Chefs. Wyne hesitated for just a moment before deciding to apply. She had built a niche as a visible Muslim woman in the food industry and had an opportunity to represent girls of colour; as someone they can look up to and see themselves in, the kind of role model she longed for in her youth. “Young girls and women see this, they’ll take a chance on themselves,” says Wyne. She applied her faith; she says she prayed around the opportunity.
Wyne was chosen as a contestant and she appeared in Episode 16, Season 1 entitled Wee, That’s Fire! which aired on October 6, 2020. The show pits four Canadian home chefs against one another using thematic ingredients, and their dishes are then tasted and judged by a wall of Canadian chefs: from Massimo Capra to Christine Cushing; and Shane Chartrand to Nick Liu. (Read about the full list of celebrity chef judges further down the page.)
Wyne made it through the second round before being eliminated, but for her, the experience itself was better than any podium. “It was a lifetime opportunity,” says Wyne. She had grown up watching culinary competitions on the Food Network, yet the experience of participation was “mindblowing” and according to Wyne, nothing like what you see on television. The highlights, for her, happened behind the scenes. The team at Insight (Wall of Chefs is produced by Insight Productions in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada) was “wonderful and professional and welcoming,” says Wyne. “Amazing culinary icons in front of you, I’m nothing, just a food blogger, these are the real chefs,” she finishes, and Wyne says that she has come away from Wall of Chefs humbled. She describes learning about herself within the framework of the other talent in the room, in the industry, across the globe. Wyne says the experience has changed her perspectives for the better.
The 2019 federal election had been a call to action for Wyne, she felt strongly about the importance of representation in government for Muslim women. She continued to advocate and engage in diplomatic work while pursuing her gastronomic ambitions. Sharpening her culinary skills has always led her to unexpected places and 2020 has proven to be a year of promotion.
She found herself at a fork in the road—did she wish to pursue her work to become a professional chef or would she advance her work as founder and executive director of the Muslim Advisory Council of Canada? She chose the latter, but credits her involvement with Wall of Chefs for galvanizing her confidence as a representative capable of ensuring the voices of Muslims in Canada are heard, as well as building opportunities for Muslims to contribute to their respective communities. “Believing in my ability, if I can go on national TV, cook, represent Muslim women…there’s nothing I can’t do,” says Wyne.
Born and raised in Canada, Wyne’s parents are Kashmiri, they lived in Pakistan many years before coming to Canada. “I have four sisters, they’re all wonderful,” Wyne laughs.
What’s next? More Kashmiri Foodie and much more advocacy work. Says Wyne: “Of my faith…everything becomes very easy when you put your faith first. Take the risk, live out your dream and go for it.”
About Wall of Chefs
Read about the celebrity Canadian chefs starring on Wall of Chefs HERE.
About The MACC
The Muslim Advisory Council of Canada is a federally registered not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering the Canadian Muslim diaspora by identifying community stakeholder needs and providing a platform to advocate for an equitable society.
As executive director, Tabassum Wyne organizes, researches, and recommends policy positions, communications, and briefing materials to ensure Canadian Muslim interests are well articulated and represented with all levels of government and stakeholders