Despite near perfect scores and rave reviews from Galen Weston, Etobicoke’s Mary Rocto failed to translate her Recipe to Riches on Wednesday’s night episode of the popular reality cooking show.
In one of the closest competitions of the show to date, Rocto’s Jerk Chicken Bun-dles faced off against Rick Matharu’s butter chicken lasagna in the Entrees competition of the Food Network Canada cook-off show.
“Never have I wanted both competitors to go through as much as I do this time – I just can’t believe we have to choose,” said Weston, Loblaw’s executive chairman, shortly before announcing Matharu as the night’s winner.
Rocto, a recently laid off wife, mother and Princess Ann Manor area resident, won a spot on the show with her multicultural jerk chicken bun concoction – the sweet bun is European, the jerk chicken is a tribute to her husband’s Jamaican heritage, and the barbecue flavouring is North American.
“Are you ready for your world to be spiced?” an enthusiastic Rocto asked judges at the beginning of the show. “Because Rocto the Rocket is ready to send Canada to the moon! Here’s my jerk chicken sandwich – it’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s creamy, it’s crunchy, it’s delicious. It’s bun-o-licious!”
The judges, agreed. And after Rocto and Matharu both made it through the batch up challenge – where each had to cook 300 servings of their entree in four hours – they proceeded to the marketing challenge, where they introduced their entree to prospective consumers.
Following the challenge, Matharu’s scores were impressive – of those who tasted his Indian-style take on a classic Italian dish, 99 per cent said they enjoyed it, 96 per cent said they’d buy it and 97 per cent said they’d recommend it.
But Rocto’s were even more stunning – 100 per cent of those who sampled her jerk chicken buns said they enjoyed it, and 97 per cent said they’d buy it and 97 per cent said they’d recommend it.
“The interesting thing about (Rocto’s) pocket is it’s a fantastic category,” said judge Tony Chapman, founder of Capital C marketing firm. “Mothers are looking for great taste, they want convenience, they want heath and they want affordability – she scores on all four of those.”
Weston agreed, lauding Rocto’s bun-dles for their marketability.
“I am a businessman, and when it comes to single serve, that is by far the fastest growing part of the entree category in Canada,” he said.
Despite all its pros, Rocto’s recipe for Jerk Chicken Bun-dles lost out to Matharu’s “luxury” butter chicken lasagna for the $25,000 prize and the opportunity to have the recipe made into a President’s Choice product.
An aspiring cooking show host herself, Rocto took the news graciously – albeit tearfully.
“I am very happy for him and I wish him the best of luck. I hope he wins the $250,000,” Rocto said of the grand prize, which Matharu is now eligible to win, crying. “I wanted to see myself on President’s Choice; I wanted my son to see.”
Rocto’s elimination from the Recipe to Riches competition means there is only one Etobian left in the Recipe to Riches competition – Tracey Rigden, who won the Cookies and Squares competition last month with her Dulce de Leche Brownies.