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Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds: Food Handling & Culinary Skills Training

Attention Newcomer Muslim Women in the GTA! Sign up for our new 7-week program to earn your very own certificate on food handling, packaging, and more!

Who We Are

Designed for Muslim women in the GTA area, “Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds” is a free 7-week program that allows participants to develop their culinary skills and acquire a deep understanding of the health and safety requirements for operating a food based enterprise. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion.


The Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds food-based training and skills development program is a free 7-week course comprised of a comprehensive curriculum that spans the foodservice continuum. Participants acquire a deep understanding of the health and safety requirements for operating a food-based enterprise while receiving essential technical skills training. The training will focus on kitchen skills, food preparation and handling, traditional cooking methods, food presentation and packaging, customer service, catering production, pricing, and cash flow management. Upon completion of the program, participants receive transitional support and mentoring as they prepare to enter the workforce or launch their own catering/food business.


Our free food-based training and skills development program will help refugee, newcomer, and racialized Muslim women overcome the financial, structural and accessibility barriers to participation in their community. The women we support face other barriers such as language and transportation that prevent them from seeking work outside of the home, which leads to income and food insecurity for them and their children. Food handling certification courses are proven to lift communities and women out of poverty as they provide them with transferrable knowledge and skills for employment or launching their own culinary business. The Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds program seeks to have a positive impact on the lives of Muslim women during the winter months and beyond, in particular in relation to their household economics and food security status, decision making, mental health and social support.

Meet Your Instructor

Chef Reem Ahmed moved from Egypt to Canada in 2008 to pursue a degree and career as a Biomedical Engineer. As an engineering student, she dedicated herself to working hard, being innovative, and constantly achieving great things. She held a job as a research assistant in medical imaging for Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital while studying in university. Through her knowledge and experience, she set out to push herself even further, where she worked alongside a group of outstanding engineers to create a device that assisted patients suffering from dementia.

Upon graduating from university, Reem and her husband were blessed with their first child which prompted Reem to take a break from her career and give her full attention to her son. She soon realized that cooking was the perfect therapy that helped break her free from anxiety and depression, sparking a new aspiration to become a chef. As she pursued this new culinary path, she was selected as a contestant on MasterChef Canada, making her the first Muslim hijabi featured on the show. This experience allowed Reem to step out of her comfort zone and explore different cuisines from various cultures. Reem made it as a top 10 finalist on the show.

Today, Chef Reem – also known as Reem From the Heart – runs a successful virtual cooking class business and is often invited to speak and conduct cooking demonstrations at various events. She has been featured on CTV The Social, CP24 Breakfast, Cooking segment on City TV Breakfast Television, CBC, and BBC Arabic. Her bucket list includes the opening of her own authentic Egyptian restaurant as well as have her own cooking show on TV.As she moves forward in her culinary journey, Chef Reem’s ultimate goal is to inspire, motivate, and show all women, especially mothers suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety, that anything can be achieved if you set your mind to it, regardless of race or religion!


REEM v5For live updates, follow her on Instagram: @chefreemahmed

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