Amateur chef from Vic West put to test on TV

Victoria man’s culinary talents judged on Food Network program

Stephen Childs cooks up a vegetable stir fry dinner while wife

As a professional engineer, Stephen Childs knows how to get the most out of a space.

Walk into the compact, split-level condominium he shares in Vic West with wife, Jennifer, and 14-month-old daughter, Della, and the first thing one sees is pots and pans, hanging industrial-style on a ceiling-mounted rack.

An avid cook, Childs wanted to create more usable space on the counters.

He also hates major cleanup jobs.

“When you cook, do you do the dishes after dinner or before?” he asks the visitor, with a knowing smile.

That aversion to scraping dry, caked-on food from dinner dishes inspired him to create a dish he calls chipotle chili bites.

The success of his culinary creation, combined with a New Year’s Resolution to “put himself out there more” and try new experiences, saw Childs enter tryouts for Food Network Canada’s amateur cooking show, Recipes to Riches, with his wife earlier this year in Vancouver.

Childs’ flavourful dish combines chili with polenta, an Italian pudding which, when thickened with corn meal, hardens into a crust when cool.

“I thought, ‘chili’s good, polenta’s good,’ I wonder how I could make this an edible dish in your hand?” he recalls.

The two components are fairly straightforward, he says, but combined they make a unique dish that has taken on a life of its own in terms of its popularity with Childs’ friends and co-workers.

Entering the competition together was a natural for the couple, who both love to cook, Jennifer says.

Her family has a tradition of cooking and baking. She and her sister, who was visiting from Banff, went to the 2011 tryouts on a whim, but missed the cut.

This tiome around Jennifer entered her decadent dessert, called moochalicious love cookie chocolate espresso shortbread. She made it past the first round, but saw her husband’s creation earn him a spot on TV.

One of 21 national finalists filmed in seven different food categories, Stephen competed against a woman from Alberta and Ladysmith’s Lyndsay Wells in the show’s Savoury Snacks episode, which airs at 8 p.m. PST next Wednesday, Oct. 24. The winner receives $25,000 and qualifies for the national finale, which offers $250,000 to the overall champion.

In true reality TV style, Childs was sworn to secrecy about the result of his episode, even to his wife.

“All I know is that he came home with some blisters, so I know he worked hard,” Jennifer says.

She harbours not even a friendly grudge against her husband – she rates his chipotle chili bites a “12” on a scale of 1 to 10. “The whole process has solidified how important food is in our life,” she says.

Stephen downplays his culinary prowess, noting that “anyone can do it.” Asked what advice he might give aspiring entrants for next year’s show, he says, “Don’t be intimidated by the kitchen. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Food Network Canada is channel 30 (245 in HD) on Shaw, 143 (689 in HD) on Telus Optik TV.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Watchdog group says Saanich council needs a ‘reality check’ about taxes

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria warns of eroding housing affordability in Saanich

Time-lapse video shows weekend work on McKenzie Interchange project

Construction crews place concrete underpass bridge beams

‘Best in the country’: Formerly homeless man praises Victoria’s outreach services

Jay W. was living on the streets of downtown Victoria in 2018

Years of ‘horrific, violent accidents’ at Thetis Lake prompt plea to public

View Royal fire chief asks for an end to alcohol consumption at busy park

City of Victoria plans workshop to determine fate of Sir John A. Macdonald statue

Conversations will happen as part of a reconciliation dialogue series in May 2020

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Most Read