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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unrelated occupancy limits creating divisions in Saanich

Gordon Head Residents’ Association wants to see conditions to hold landlords accountable

Oak Bay cyclist runner-up in Spanish stage race

Adam de Vos on podium amongst World Tour best in Spain

Greater Victoria has Canada’s sixth-highest ‘moving penalty’

Disparity between vacant/occupied units incentivizes renovictions and reduces mobility, researcher says

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor Ben Isitt

Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Nanaimo high school under lockdown after threats

Nanaimo RCMP say McGirr Elementary in hold-and-secure given proximity

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Most Read