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Owner of Schenectady’s Tara Kitchen to be on Food Network’s ‘Beat Bobby Flay’

Owner of Schenectady’s Tara Kitchen to be on Food Network’s ‘Beat Bobby Flay’

Aneesa Waheed’s “Beat Bobby Flay” appearance upcoming
Owner of Schenectady’s Tara Kitchen to be on Food Network’s ‘Beat Bobby Flay’
Aneesa Waheed, owner of the Tara Kitchen at 431 Liberty St., is pictured in 2016.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY — Aneesa Waheed was fresh from taping an appearance on the Food Network’s "Guy’s Grocery Games" last winter when her phone rang. 

It was a producer floating a trial balloon to see if the Schenectady-based restaurateur would be willing to appear on “Beat Bobby Flay,” the national program where two chefs compete for the opportunity to go up against the show's namesake in a final culinary face-off. 

Waheed wasn’t feeling so hot after getting bounced from Guy Fieri's program. 

“I was still licking my wounds,” she said. “So I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. But it’s Bobby Flay.”

Waheed, co-owner of the Moroccan restaurant Tara Kitchen, filmed her appearance last spring in Brooklyn.

The episode airs Thursday, March 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network.

Titled “Greeking Out,” the episode’s description reads: “The kitchen goes metal when Iron Chef Jose Garces and Worst Cooks in America's Anne Burrell team up to take down their good friend Bobby Flay.”

'TANGINE QUEEN'

The duo handpicked "Tagine Queen" Waheed and "hard-hitting chef Ryan Lory to deliver the win," the description continued. 

Waheed said she can’t dish on the details, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

But she called her second national television appearance in as many years “an incredible opportunity.”

Appearing on a televised food competition is like a pressure-cooker with the intense drive to succeed paired with tight time constraints, she said.

But the stressful experience is ultimately fun and exciting, she recalled.

New Thursday: Two images released from her appearance

Producers honed in on her natural confidence, 

“They only bring people on the show who feel confident they can cook against a chef like Bobby,” she said. “I was incredibly happy to be asked.”

Flay, a member of the first graduating class of the French Culinary Institute in 1984, accrued time working with a number of influential restaurateurs before rising to prominence with a series of namesake restaurants across the U.S.

He got his namesake show on the Food Network in 2013.

LONG JOURNEY

Waheed fell in love with Moroccan cuisine after visiting the North African nation more than a decade ago.

She and her husband, co-owner Muntasim Shoaib, opened their Liberty Street location in 2012. 

The pair began selling their sauces online and in stores, including Whole Foods and Price Chopper, before expanding to Troy in 2017 — racking up numerous awards from regional competitions and media outlets in the process. 

At its core, Tara Kitchen is designed to make Moroccan food more accessible to the community with tastes and adapted to American preferences, Waheed said. 

New Thursday: Two images released from her appearance

She remains modest over her successes. 

“I’m just a girl who started cooking because I didn’t want to work at a desk job,” Waheed said in a phone interview.

She has noticed an uptick in business since her debut Food Network appearance.

None of it would be possible without community support. 

Having the spotlight beamed onto the Capital Region through her national appearances is not unlike a kid coming home glowing over a high test score.

“For me, it feels the same way,” Waheed said, “promoting the community and people who live here.”

She continued: “I’m incredibly lucky and blessed. I can’t thank the community enough for rallying around me.”

IF YOU WATCH: The episode airs Thursday, March 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network.

Social Tags: #BeatBobbyFlay @FoodNetwork

More from this week: Our top stories March 9-15, 2019

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