Currently living in Long Beach, Calif., Jones-Muhammad grew up in Silver Spring and attended Montgomery County schools, where he credits his grandmother with instilling a love of cooking in him.
“I learned everything I knew from her because she was the only person who actually knew how to cook,” Jones-Muhammad said to Longbeachize. “And when she passed, it hit me hard—in both good and bad ways.”
The dish that earned Jones-Muhammad his apron on the thirteenth season of MasterChef was a nod to his Maryland roots: Pan-seared salmon with spinach and parmesan-crusted potatoes. Show co-host and judge Joe Bastianich voted no on the dish, while chef judges Aarón Sánchez, Gordon Ramsay, and judge Daphne Oz voted yes, sending Jones-Muhammad through to the Top 20.
“It was a bit surreal, that moment,” Jones-Muhammad said. “Because I hadn’t really jumped into food professionally until Master Chef. I’ve seen every season and it’s always been inspiring seeing what it can do for people. The season that sticks out particularly for me is Christine Hà [season 3 Master Chef winner], watching a blind woman rise through the ranks and kick ass.”
Jones-Muhammad credits TikTok star Keith Lee with inspiring him to apply for MasterChef. “I’ve been cooking and watching the show for years but never felt the confidence that I would make it, until someone like him got famous eating food in a Paw Patrol chair!,” Jones-Muhammad said in a Reddit post. “He’s so wholesome and personable, and is always himself and it worked for him so it made me want to take a chance.”
As for his music career, Jones-Muhammad, who has worked with Justin Bieber, Don Toliver, and Bryson Tiller, credits his Montgomery County education with inspiring his music career, earning him four Grammy nominations. “A MoCo music teacher and a MoCo theater teacher sent me down this path, and changed my life in the process!”, Jones-Muhammad said on Reddit.
Season 13 of MasterChef premiered on May 24; the show’s next episode airs on Wednesday, June 21.
Photo: @kngrchrd / Instagram