Blanche Araj Shaheen is the first Palestinian American to break into the entertainment industry, as a news and entertainment reporter, and now as the host and producer of her own show called Feast in the Middle East. As soon as Blanche learned how to talk she knew she wanted
a career in television. She observed from a young age her parents intently watching the news, and knew that television was an important medium for spreading information to the masses.
Yielding a spatula as a microphone,
she would interview people around her San Francisco neighborhood
as a preschooler, putting together stories about earthquakes, street
construction, and local events.She would then set up a podium
made of cardboard and read her newscasts in front of friends and
family.Fast forward years
later, after graduating from UC Berkeley in Political Economy of
Industrial Societies, she hit the ground running to gain on-the-job
Blanche began her television track working behind the camera
doing production work for ABC, CNN, and PBS while pursuing her Master's degree in Broadcast
Journalism, graduating Magna Cum-Laude at San Francisco State University. In 1996 she received an award from the Associated Press, for her paper on the future of media. In her paper, she described the new world of news where reporters will instantaneously upload news worthy videos from their phones via the web, rendering it more timely than television. This was a good decade before smart phones existed. In 1998,she landed the part of host of "Video
i." For ten years as the host Blanche scouted out independent films, covered indie film festivals and interviewed filmmakers, actors, and celebrities.
Simultaneously, In 1999 Blanche became a reporter and anchor for the satellite channel Tech-TV (G4 television). Blanche reported live every hour daily on high-tech and other news stories. She covered major events such as the September 11 attacks, conducted satellite interviews, and did in studio demos. She gained other clients in the high tech at this time, hosting video webcasts for companies that included Akamai Technologies, Google, Siebel, Hewlett Packard and Agilent Technologies. Between 2004 and 2014 Blanche worked for another satellite channel, Link TV. She moderated programs pertaining to politics in the Middle East, interviewed newsmakers, and introduced timely documentaries. In 2006 Blanche took a turn for entertainment, landing the job of correspondent for
ABC's live program called View
from the Bay. It was on this show that Blanche began to cultivate
an interest in environmentalism and the culinary arts, producing stories about living green and the restaurant scene in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also interviewed
A-list celebrities from Bruce Willis, Nicholas Cage, Orlando
Bloom and Selma
to illustrious musicians from Harry Connick
Jr., K.D. Lang, and
Rick Springfield. Evident from the fan mail Blanche
has received, viewers delighted in following her on her adventures,
whether getting a lesson on stinky cheese, taking a salsa lesson,
shooting fire from a cannon, or cooking with top Bay Area chefs.
from the Bay, Blanche further cemented her experience in
live television, reporting live on location from festivals,
concerts, and businesses all over the Bay Area.
In 2010, Blanche began her latest project, titled Feast in the Middle East where Blanche shared her culinary and cultural background through a television pilot. She got the attention of the OWN Network for a new program, "Your Own Show." Within one week of uploading her cooking video Mark Burnett casting called, saying Blanche exuded "charisma" and wanted to know more about the project. Out of 10,000 entries, Blanche made it into the top 35. That was the impetus Blanche needed to continue her project. Her YouTube channel content has been featured on 4 other networks, including Tastemade Networks, Glam Media, ifood.tv and Curious.com She is also a newspaper food columnist, food blogger, and writing her cookbook as we speak. Her show has also been featured on Virgin America Airlines, reaching 1 million people per month. Her YouTube channel and Facebook page, Blanche's Feast in the Middle East"" is gaining thousands of subscribers and viewers every week.
When she isn't working Blanche is passionate about helping children who are victims of slavery and ending human trafficking. For years she has been attending global forums for both Not For Sale and the International Justice Mission and giving talks to community groups on how to stop slavery through socially responsible spending and advocacy. She also spends her spare time as a Zumba certified fitness instructor, and has been freelancing as a model as well for the past decade.