Remember the most popular girl in school?
Not the too-cool one who teased all the boys, but the one who was smart, funny, always humble, and floated from group to group because she was everyone’s best friend. You know those people, the super-lovely ones you almost want to hate but couldn’t possibly.
Amina El Shafei is one of them. As soon as you meet her you want to invite her to parties, share in-jokes and introduce her as your BFF.
The 28-year-old is a practising paediatric nurse with a master's degree, and since finding fame as one of Australia’s most popular amateur chefs on Ten’s MasterChef, an incredible achievement in itself, has been balancing all this with media appearances, restaurant work experience, and planning her upcoming cooking classes and other food-related projects.
Although her indelible smile, warm personality, and of course the mouth-watering dishes she served up on the program have seen her shot to a state of national recognition, the modest chef says she never imagined being the popular girl.
“I wouldn’t say I was always popular, I’ve always had good friends all the way around but I never expected the support since being on Masterchef, it’s been crazy,” she tells The Weekly only days after her elimination from the show.
Although Amina’s always felt “a bit different” she’s never been marginalised or faced any negativity.
“I think being half-Korean and half-Egyptian, people look at you differently, they think, ‘she’s got a mix in her, what’s going on with her?’ But then they ask and they go oh, that’s awesome,” the Sydney girl says.
“Going to a school predominantly with Australian girls, from The Shire as well, no one has said or done anything towards me that was offensive.
“It’s made me very proud, because I think if you treat other people with respect, you only are going to get respect back, so that’s my way of seeing life,” she says.
Amina says the reception she’s had since MasterChef has been overwhelming.
When joined Twitter shortly after her elimination, a necessity for any small-screen celeb, one of her first tweets was directed at the incredibly well-liked Chrissie Swan.
“The reason I thanked [Chrissie] was because she as a public figure was very involved in terms of the support and the cheering-on for me, and she has a huge fan base so she was a huge influence in terms of getting me out there,” she says.
Amina said she had “no idea” why the popular radio personality and former TV star had taken a liking to her, but there are clear similarities between the two.
Also introduced to the public via reality TV, former Big Brother contestant Chrissie Swan is one of those people you "just want to be mates with".
Earlier this year Chrissie told The Weekly "it's not a Beatles reaction [when people meet me], it's 'Hi Chrissie', like we've known each other for years.
"And I go, 'Hi, how are you going?' We've never met each other before, but I know them, they know me."
On meeting Amina, I had the same reaction. And yes, deveoped a bit of a girl crush.
Read more about Amina in the August issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.
Your say:Which celebrity would you want to be friends with?