This week on CBC’s Recipe to Riches, Cyra Belbin wowed the crowds with her tasty Mexi Mac & Cheese Bites and won this week’s savoury snacks challenge! Find out more about the most recent Recipe to Riches winner in our Tastemaker Q&A…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
Well, first and foremost I am a proud Newfoundlander! I moved away in my early 20s but my heart and family are still there. My husband (also a Newfoundlander) and I now live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with our two cats (Casey and Finnegan). We love Halifax and it still amazes me how similar but different it is to St. John’s. When we moved to Halifax we started playing Ultimate Frisbee and it has now become a huge part of our lives. We play at least three times a week and have made some amazing friends through the sport. Like true Atlantic Canadians, we love to entertain and every party ends up in the kitchen – no matter how big or small the space is.
What was your experience on Recipe to Riches like?
Recipe to Riches was awesome! It was like all my interests and passions collided – competition, cooking and marketing. I have never experienced a challenge like it before and it truly tested my stamina and focus. But the best part of the entire experience was the people. From the production crew to the judges and of course the other competitors, it was such a pleasure to meet and work with such wonderful people filled with passion and drive.
What was the first thing that came to your mind when your name was announced as the winner?
“…….” – my mind went blank and I was in shock. It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened and it didn’t feel real until Izumi gave me a big hug. Then it all started to hit me and I realized what I had accomplished.
How did you come up with your Recipe to Riches winning recipe?
To be honest, the recipe came about out of laziness. It was a few years ago over the Christmas holidays and, like many people experience, I was just tired of cooking… I mean, I love to cook, but you can over-do it! I had people coming over and I noticed I had leftover macaroni and cheese in the fridge and I thought, “I can totally repurpose this.” The first batch didn’t look pretty, but they were a big hit and I perfected the idea from there.
What were the biggest challenges and best rewards about being a part of the show?
I would say lack of time and inexperience in an industrial kitchen was the biggest challenge. It’s hard to keep calm, collected and focused when you’re scurrying around a foreign, industrial kitchen with time ticking in the background. But my biggest reward was pushing myself to rise above it. It’s a test that not many people get a chance to try, and I was lucky to have the opportunity.
What are you most excited about for the future?
I am so excited about seeing people buy, serve and taste my product all across Canada. It’s just an amazing feeling to know that you’ve brought a delicious snack into someone’s party. I’m also really excited to see what new adventures or challenges I’ll set for myself. I’m a firm believer in continuing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and to set ambitious (but realistic) goals. It keeps you on your toes and makes for great experiences and adventures.
Can you give any tips to home chefs who aspire to be as successful as yourself?
Never give up, just re-strategize and re-envision – that’s my philosophy in and out of the kitchen. Sometimes the biggest kitchen flops and failures can inspire a great new creation, so don’t stop experimenting and trying new things.
Outside of your winning dish, what is your favourite food?
I think asking what your favourite food is would be like asking what your favourite outfit or shoe is… it all depends on the mood you’re in! I love many Newfoundland classics like Jiggs dinner, toutons and cod tongues. I also love all cheeses and have a huge sweet tooth.
Finish this sentence. I love Toronto because…
…you never know who you’ll run into while you’re shopping, eating or just wandering around.
What are three things you can’t live without?
1. My heels (I’m 5’0 tall… I need some height).
2. My sneakers (sometimes you just need to run and clear your head or hit restart).
3. My husband, family and friends (okay… major cop-out, but I wouldn’t be me without all the wonderful people I have in my life).
What are some of your favourite restaurants and why?
One of my favourite things to do is eat out. I know I spend way too much money eating out at restaurants but it’s an experience that I think is worth investing in! I love places that incorporate local products, have seasonal menus, and use way more butter than you probably should but they still do because it’s delicious. Those types of restaurants always seem to have the most fresh, creative and mouthwatering dishes.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with all your globe-trotting?
You can follow me and my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. I’m also on Pinterest, so feel free to check out my boards and see what I’ve pinned. And, last but not least, I have a blog that has some great recipes for cupcakes using cake mixes called Faking Fancy Cupcakes.
Can’t wait for the next episode? We feel you! Don’t forget to tune in next Wednesday, April 3rd at 9pm to catch the finale of Recipe to Riches!
What did you think of last night’s episode? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.