Meet the Chefs

Meet our Halal Food Fest TO chefs as well as some special celebrity chefs!

Nasreen Kassam : Halal Food Fest TO Chef

Nasreen Kassam

Halal Food Fest TO Chef

Ever since she was teenager, Nasreen has loved the art of cake decorating. Most of the treats she made were devoured by her siblings, and now it's her family and friends. "Cake Art has always been my passion - and it's always satisfying to see the excitement in your loved ones! Not sharing my knowledge is a great injustice to the art and I would love to pass on what I know", says Nasreen.

With a background in Fashion Design, Nasreen has put her couture and art in her cakes, taking numerous cake decorating courses at local institutes. Her passion and hard-work earned her respect among her peers and she became the Wilton® Method Instructor within a short duration. Nasreen has since trained hundreds of students worldwide and has been a judge at local and international shows.



Russell Auckbaraullee : Halal Food Fest TO Chef

Russell Auckbaraullee

Halal Food Fest TO Chef

Chef Russell Auckbaraullee, owner of Penthouse Catering. Chef Russell seeks the challenge of diversity and desire for his guests is “to have a new experience with food that will open them to the cultural inspirations behind each dish,” is something that comes directly from his Mauritian heritage, that compliments the rich multicultural food found in Toronto. His menus are not limited to a specific cuisine, but mostly a variety of international foods. Italian trained, but will always will always be a student of the trade. Earlier in his career he had managed and was The Head Chef of restaurants around Toronto, but now focuses on teaching and catering.

Most recently did Chopped Canada. Recent co-winner at The Toronto Sushi Fest, and now teaches private sushi classes for groups of two. Has appeared on multiple media outlets, tv demos and has published recipes in print. His team provides fine dining catering needs, public events to weddings around the GTA. Find them at


Amanda Saab :

Amanda Saab

Amanda was born and raised in Dearborn Michigan, where she learned her love for cooking and baking from her mother and grandmother.

Amanda’s passion for food and sharing led her to compete on MasterChef; the worlds largest food competition. She was the first woman in hijab to appear on the American version of the show. Amanda earned a MasterChef apron and continued to shine in the competition, impressing Gordon Ramsay not only with her creativity in food, but her positive attitude and team work as well.

Amanda and Hussein began Dinner with Your Muslim Neighbour in January 2016, after Amanda experienced hate speech online and saw the rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the presidential campaign. She later partnered with Michael Hebb, founder of Death Over Dinner, to share Dinner With Your Muslim Neighbour with the world.

Amanda currently works as the Director of Social Services at Zaman International, a non-profit in South East Michigan, who serves women and children facing poverty. She will also be developing their culinary training kitchen, to give women a skill to enter the workforces.




Kaif Khan :

Kaif Khan

Kaif Khan has been cooking and creating for as long as she can remember. To express her creativity, she ran a successful blog for a few years called Quirk Kitchen, before diving full time into culinary school. She graduated from the Baking and Pastry Arts program at Schoolcraft College in 2017. Kaif is professionally trained in French pastries, and international as well as European bread baking. Currently she is building  her independent chocolate and pastry business under the banner of Maison de L'Amour.



Ahmed Baig :

Ahmed Baig

Ahmed Baig has been a chef with Halal Food Festival since the start with his informative demonstrations. He travels the world cooking for celebrities and public figures, but calls Toronto his home.



Yvonne Maffei, MA :

Yvonne Maffei, MA

Yvonne Maffei, MA is a graduate of Spanish & International Studies from Ohio University (Athens, Ohio) where she also spent time studying abroad in both Mexico and Spain during her time as a student. She was raised in Northeast Ohio around her Sicilian and Puerto Rican family members who taught her to appreciate all cultures and cuisine. Over time and much international and domestic travel, Yvonne developed a real passion for global cuisine, cooking and writing about her experiences and set out to make a career of it. After years of teaching language arts, she moved her teaching platform from the classroom to the internet by starting her website,, which reaches a global audience of over 1.2 million just on Facebook alone. She has written three books: Clean Your Kitchen Green (2010), Summer Ramadan Cooking (2013) and My Halal Kitchen: Global Recipes, Cooking Tips, Lifestyle Inspiration (2016).