Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Stacked Bowls - A Recipe to Riches Exclusive

As many of you know, I took a risk this year and auditioned to be on a new Food Network Canada show called Recipe to Riches.

Set up American Idol style for food, contestants were encouraged to bring their "best dishes" to open call auditions held across Canada where finalists would have the opportunity to have their recipes showcased by Superstore as President's Choice items!

A week before the Vancouver auditions were set to begin I saw an ad about the show on TV.

Intrigued, I thought "I'm going to send in my recipe for turkey chili con carne with an updated twist on corn bread topping" - and then immediately congratulated myself for my own culinary brilliance.

Convinced I had the whole thing in the bag, I applied for the open call auditions and sent in the now infamous "Stacked Bowls" video where I continuously and unfortunately, gesture toward my upper torso offering an open invitation for friends to "feel at home and help themselves."

People, on the basis of that alone, I should not have had the nerve.

However, with the long range view of myself as being

Just.

That.

Fabulous.

*ahem*

I began an obsessive spate of watching The Secret while chanting positive affirmations as a way of preparing the universe for my eventual stardom.

Fast forward to two days before the auditions.

I receive a phone call from Toronto.

It's one of the field directors for the show and they like me.

They really, really like me!!!!!!!!!

Except...

Turkey chili con carne with my avante garde sweet potato corn bread topping was apparently not fabulous enough for a contest such as this.

I was asked if I could come up with something different - perhaps a twist on the original recipe as an appetizer.

Further to that, I had until the end of the day to submit something suitable in order to get an audition time.

At this point, a sensible person would have quit.

However, infused with the powers of my own fabulosity - and my ever supportive mother Aurora only a phone call away...

















I threw down that gauntlet and in less than two hours came up with an idea that was so inspired, so brilliant, and so HOT DAMN! I immediately sent it in without even trying the recipe.

With one day before I was set to go to Vancouver, I went shopping for the ingredients to put together my grand experiment - only to arrive home and discover my oven door was on the floor.

A spring broke in the open and close lever while my husband was reheating a pizza and the door completely snapped off.

(I know)

One might think that perhaps someone was trying to send me a sign.

A harbinger of things to come.

But I work in the field of crisis intervention and as such, have a healthy respect for the opportunities inherent in disaster.

Like Julia Child before me, I picked myself up, packed my ingredients, and made my way to my mom's place to cook up some magic.

However, I truly didn't have the time to craft the recipe the way I normally would for something as big as this, and though the end result was, in my opinion, okay - it didn't meet the level of culinary fabulosity I would normally serve.

At this point, I would like everyone reading this to utter "We love you Aurora" and direct that toward my mother because she literally had to talk me down.

Truth be told, it took an entire intervention team.

After she, Marv, and the Man I Married - who will hereby be dubbed " the most excellent husband ever" - convinced me the things were edible, I packed them into a tupperware to take on my three hour trek to Vancouver the next day.

Still not convinced I had a winning recipe, I was SHOCKED when I went before the judges and not only got a gold ticket to carry on in the competition, I was told they loved my idea!!

In retrospect, I wish I had had the time to really understand what I had created - but that's the way it all panned out, and believer in fate that I am, I figure this must be exactly as it was meant to happen.

However, in the time since, and with my eyes on the prize, I re-worked the recipe, and came up with a marketing concept so brilliant I pretty much convinced myself that if I could just get onto the show I might just win it all.

The Secret notwithstanding.

And I came THIS close.

One step beyond gold ticket close.

The last three slots on American Idol and only one person gets the chance to move on close.

When I got the news this morning that I wouldn't be going further, my initial reaction was to languish in the disparity of it all.

The unfairness.

The cosmic cruelty.

But then I gave my head a shake and remembered disappointment serves no purpose.

Just because the ball you hit isn't a home run the first time doesn't mean you stop swinging.

This was my first food related contest, ever.

In 45 minutes, I came up with an idea that was good enough to almost get me onto a national television show.

Reading that a second time makes me smile.

So in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger me and my stacked bowls will be back!

Look out Food TV - this Maven has only just begun ;)

***

Update to anyone who stumbles across this blog... Three weeks after I wrote this, I entered another competition and this time I won! I am now the entree host for The Real Women of Philadelphia Canada.

The year after that, I got my wish and competed on Season 2 of Recipe to Riches.

I share this in the hopes that you will understand the importance of never giving up.

Opportunity awaits us all!

Go after your dreams.