British TV personality Amar Latif is the first blind contestant in the UK’s 2020 Celebrity Masterchef.
Born in 1974, Latif was diagnosed early with retinitis pigmentosa and had lost 95% of his vision by his late teens. Aged 18, having just started a mathematics, stats and finance degree at Strathclyde University, he said he woke up blind. “I couldn’t see the Madonna poster at the end of my bed. All I could see was light fog. I closed my eyes, rubbed them and opened them again, thinking it’d be okay. But it dawned on me that this was it, and I was now blind,” Latif told the Mirror.
Having finished his degree and pursued a successful career in finance, in 2004 Latif decided to start his own travel agency, Traveleyes, specialising in tours for blind and partially-sighted travellers. His interest in travel and can do-attitude got him on the first series of the 2005 BBC Two documentary Beyond Boundaries, as one of a group of travellers with various disabilities on a trek of 220 miles (350 km) from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua.
Having crossed rivers, cut through dense jungle and climbed a 5,000ft active volcano, you could be excused for thinking a cooking show should be a piece of cake for this adventurous man. But as the Celebrity Masterchef’s first blind contestant, Latif said, “it’s the most terrifying thing I have done”. But away from the cameras, he said the ongoing lockdown has given him ample time to enjoy his newfound passion; “I forget I’m blind when I’m cooking.”