Another batch of three Canadians sought the sweet smell (and taste) of success on last night’s Candies and Chocolate episode of Recipe to Riches. Let’s take a closer look at who they were and how their food fared.
– Mont-Jolie, Quebec music teach Lucie Dion presented to the country her Sucre à la Crème, a Quebecois tradition she learned from her grandmother and mother.
– Montreal-based gallerist Robert Armatta proffered vegan-friendly Dark Chocolate Treats, which he originally developed in an effort to draw some extra traffic to his art showroom.
– Burnaby, B.C.’s Don Harquail’sGolden Toffee Nut Gems were but one example of how cooking helped him recover from a brain aneurysm.
(Above from left: Robert Armatta, Lucie Dion, Don Harquail)
Our contestants were tasked with producing 1,000 portions of their respective treats. Easy peasy, right? I mean, Robert just needed to melt some chocolate onto a cookie crumble, and Lucie was only heating sugar into fudge. And Don’s recipe—essentially nuts, caramel and a drop of chocolate—wasn’t much more complex. But I’m sure none of you were deceived, faithful Food Network viewers that you are. The preparation of all three treats required careful monitoring, to ensure that finicky ingredients didn’t burn, congeal or worse.
For the most part, things went surprisingly smoothly. Lucie did have a mixer explode on her, and Don was nearly foiled by the unruly foil wrapped around his baking sheets, but all in all this batch-up contest seemed relatively trauma-free.
Even judges’ table was a reasonably sweet-natured affair. Robert’s treats, which Laura noted were like a truffle on top and breakfast on the bottom, earned kudos for originality and healthiness (specifically pertaining to his vegan-friendly base). It also seemed like they were the perfect size for snacking, unlike Don’s toffee squares, which were criticized for being the size of flooring tiles. So I was surprised when the Montreal gallerist and his offering were shown the exit. Did I miss something?!?
(Above: President’s Choice Triple Nut Toffee)
Not that Don and Lucie weren’t worthy of continuing onward. They both had appealing recipes that were quickly turned into potentially marketable food products. The former had his golden toffee nut gems renamed as Triple Nut Toffee (was I the only one who hadn’t realized there were three nuts in that recipe?), while somewhat sadly, Lucie ended up deemphasizing the Quebecois nature of her treat, calling it “Sweet Moments” instead.
I was happy to see that, once they were sent out into the world, so to speak, our home cooks finally broke from what was, in my opinion, a played-out trend: neither of them used dancers to help launch their wares! They still did, however, fall into the familiar trap of doing almost too much to bring customers to their events. Lucie’s focus on offering an “indulgent” experience meant that shirtless men and free massages took precedence over her fudge, while Don spent altogether too much time wrangling his hyperactive chipmunk mascots.
Fortunately, their products were strong enough to overcome any launch missteps—Lucie garnered 95/84/97 splits on the enjoy/buy/recommend scale, while Don had an even stronger 99/93/97 showing. The numbers, in this case, did not lie, and the boisterous man from Burnaby edged out his Quebecois counterpart to take not only the challenge win, but the overall victory as well. Of the episode’s three sweets, his was the most novel without being “unfamiliar.” And while his recipe was arguably more complicated, he benefitted from the judges’ concern that Lucie’s fudge would be too unpredictable to produce on a mass scale.
Look for Don Harquail’s President’s Choice Triple Nut Toffee in grocery stores this weekend!
If you missed it, you can watch the full episode here.
Craig is an editor at a Toronto-based city magazine. He also writes about all manner of cultural topics, including food culture.
- Recipe to Riches: Episode 1 Judges’ Recap
- Recipe to Riches: Episode 2 Judges’ Recap
- Recipe to Riches: Episode 4 Judges’ Recap