The Untold Truth Of Saba Wahid

Chef and TV personality Saba Wahid had a surprise in store for her on Instagram when she was nudged by the producers from the popular TV show, "Chopped." According to Eater, she was interested in being a part of the competitive show before, but was told that she simply didn't have the restaurant background required to succeed. "I told them that I don't work in a restaurant by choice," she explained. "I still challenge myself in the kitchen every day, and I know how to hustle. But I never made the cut. But this time, they came to me."

Well, Wahid has proven that she has what it takes to work in high-pressure settings; Wahid emerged victorious on "Chopped: Martha Rules," overcoming several challenges and winning against 15 talented participants. She was impressive enough that celebrity chef Martha Stewart showered her with praises. Stewart told her, "You're elegant, you're eloquent, and a damn good chef." This meant the world to Wahid, of course. She told the Boston Herald that being around Stewart was a "once-in-a-lifetime thing" for her, something that made her feel seen and heard. Indeed, Wahid felt like her hard work had finally paid off.

But the road to success wasn't easy for Wahid, who had to confront many obstacles along the way.

Wahid was exposed to diverse food as a child

Wahid was born and raised in the U.S. Her family's roots, however, can be tracked back to Pakistan. Wahid told National in an interview that she was lucky to get access to traditional Pakistani cuisine while growing up, and also had the opportunity to explore the wonders of American offerings. "I was brought up on Pakistani food, but we would go out for pizza or Chinese, too," she recalled. "Thanksgiving was one of our favorite holidays and that's all about turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy."

Plus, Wahid's grandmother would often celebrate the holidays in her own way and include traditional Pakistani dishes as a part of the festivities. This meant that Wahid always got the best of both worlds. Also, despite the fact that her family was heavily into food, Wahid told Eater that they weren't thrilled when they found about her culinary dream; she said that she had to come up with ways to convince them. Wahid later finished a course at the French Culinary Institute and also studied at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before exploring the food industry via catering.

A heart ailment left a deep impact on Wahid

For Wahid, being diagnosed with a heart ailment and undergoing surgery was a massive wake-up call, something that made her want to change the way she lived her life. "A few years ago, I had heart surgery for a birth defect that had gone undetected my entire life," she told National. "I was diagnosed with an atrial septal defect, which is basically a hole in the heart."

Wahid had been exploring marketing and communications before that point, but decided to take a leap of faith after the surgery and pitched an idea for a food-based TV show in the Middle East; she shopped it to several places in the U.S. as well. As luck would have it, she heard back from a network in Dubai called Dubai One. The offer was lucrative, too. The only catch? She would have to shift base to Dubai. 

Wahid accepted the position, a decision that changed things for her in a big way. As per Eater, what also helped Wahid put forward her pitch was the fact that she has some well-connected friends and family members in Dubai, something that she's definitely thankful for.

Wahid is well-known in Dubai

Wahid's television show and gig as a presenter in Dubai was a dream come true for the chef. However, she mentioned that the transition wasn't easy for her. For one, there was a lot of paperwork to finish. She also had to get used to the cultural differences and familiarize herself with the way things worked in Dubai. "Because I was working for the UAE government, there were many systems and procedures I was not familiar with, but they were also a lot less organized than I had imagined," she confessed to Style Wire. Wahid added that these things did make her recognize and appreciate the work culture in the U.S. 

While in Dubai, Wahid hosted two TV shows, "Ask One" and Studio One." She told the Arabian Gazette in an interview in 2012 that for her, one of the most interesting aspects of preparing food on television was being able to come up with dishes that were a blend of the East and the West. Wahid also shared that she wished to inspire home chefs with her cooking style and said, "Using innovative technique and a healthy approach to cooking, I have made an impact on the local market and look forward to educating and showing people how to cook great food at home."

Wahid experienced a few tough personal battles

Wahid didn't just have to worry about making it big in the culinary industry, as she was also trying to appease her family.She once spoke briefly about living through a traumatic divorce before moving to Dubai in an interview with the Boston Herald. She said that she was 30 years old back then, and felt that her surgery and divorce were both learning experiences, albeit difficult to endure. "I felt like a lost soul," she revealed. 

That's when Wahid decided to focus on her dreams and follow her heart to the Middle East where she stayed for four years (via the American Muslim Project.) However, her family was disappointed. "In traditional Pakistani households, the woman gets married and she basically supports the family," she explained to National. Wahid added that she often had disagreements with her parents, telling them that she wanted to focus on her career. "I am career-driven and if I lose focus of that, I would be disappointed in myself," she continued. "So I want a career and the man will come eventually — when the time is right."

Well, Wahid's words did come true; she is now married to Micéal Duffy and they have a daughter named Issa, as per Milford Daily News. Wahid penned a sweet note to her daughter on Instagram in 2020 and wrote, "You are a true gift from above, we love you more and more with every passing day."

Wahid is super ambitious

Wahid definitely has a lot more to achieve in the culinary industry. A description on her website reads that she "is constantly on the hunt for next best thing when it comes to creating or enjoying food." As per her LinkedIn profile, Wahid is a food educator and a chef at Yale Appliance in Boston, Massachusetts where she has been working since 2017. She's a trailblazer and balances all her responsibilities without batting an eyelid, making sure to spend enough time with Issa and experimenting with new dishes in the kitchen (via Eater).

Additionally, Wahid revealed that she prepped really hard before filming "Chopped: Martha Rules." Her husband helped her out by assigning mystery ingredients to her as she raced against time to prepare delicious meals. She added that this was crucial to her cooking process on the show. "Maybe 30 seconds is enough time to whip something together, but maybe you need two minutes," she explained. "It just depends, and I think you need to play around with it a bit to know."