Lights! Camera! Cook!

Star of the Show debuts June on Lentils.ca
Chef Michael Smith Mentors 5 Canadian Food Bloggers for New Cooking Show

Have you ever watched a cooking show and thought, “I can do that!”? Well, five lentil-loving Canadian food bloggers did exactly that when they received a thrill of a lifetime to star in their own cooking show, produced and directed by Chef Michael Smith and his production company, as part of a nationwide contest run by Canadian Lentils. All five Star of the Show videos can be viewed online at lentils.ca.

Earlier this year, Canadian bloggers were invited to submit a brief pitch video featuring their own signature lentil recipe while showcasing their unique online personalities, as part of a celebration of UN-declared International Year of Pulses. Chef Michael Smith and his team reviewed all the submissions and chose five winners, Adam Heard, Trudy Stone, Sam Turnbull (all from Ontario), Koko Brill (Vancouver), and Lalitha Taylor (Edmonton).

The winners filmed Star of the Show from the set of Chef Michael Smith’s test kitchen in Prince Edward Island. Chef Michael Smith personally mentored the Stars, putting them through his cooking show boot camp.

“Chef Michael and his team asked us to start shooting our video without any preparation or knowledge of where things were in the kitchen. After sweating it out, they had a good laugh and told us it was just a test run. Now, I have a much bigger appreciation for how Chef Michael Smith makes it look so easy,” said Trudy Stone. Trudy has been cooking and developing recipes since she could hold a spoon. She’s a certified culinary nutrition expert based in Toronto and through her blog, eatliveandplay.com she focuses on helping her readers make real food, real fun. Trudy’s dish for Star of the Show was Coconut Chocolate Chip Lentil Blondies.

“Trudy knocked it out of the park, her authenticity stole the show,” said Chef Michael Smith.

“I thought I came prepared, but under all the pressure, I went blank and almost lit Chef Michael’s kitchen on fire. I also learned that tasting a lentil shepherd’s pie that has just come out of a 400-degree oven is a terrible idea, but they got the shot!” said Koko Brill. Koko is a certified raw food chef, runs Koko’s Kitchen Cold-Pressed Juice Company in Vancouver, and writes mostly about plant-based foods on her blog, kokoskitchen.com. Koko prepares Vegetarian Lentil Shepherd’s Pie for Star of the Show.

“Koko is a true original and she showed us that in spades,” said Chef Michael Smith.

“At first, the crew and Chef Michael sent me into a tizzy of heart palpitations,” said Lalitha Taylor, who secretly nicknamed Chef Michael Smith (who stands at 6 foot 7 inches), ‘The Friendly Giant’. “When it was all over, I felt incredibly blessed to have a unique experience with someone who I have looked up to for so many years!” Lalitha is an award-winning, media and primary care registered dietitian from Edmonton. She shares new recipes and practical nutritional advice as a part-time blogger at taylornutrition.ca. Her quick and easy recipe for Star of the Show is Lentil Power Bites.

“Lalitha is really going places, she’s ready for prime time!” said Chef Michael Smith.

“When I arrived on set, I wasn’t sure where to look or what to say, but Chef Michael was so supportive. He taught me how to make my recipe more approachable. What could be more approachable than tacos? Lentils absorb any flavour and are quick and easy,” said Sam Turnbull. Sam, who resides in Toronto, is currently working on her first cookbook to be published in 2017, shares her vegan recipes on her blog, itdoesnttastelikechicken.com. Sam’s recipe for Star of the Show is Lentil Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce.

“Sam’s quirky personality and love of vegetarian cooking really helped her shine!” said Chef Michael Smith.

“We had to shoot a scene of me tasting my recipe but my mouth was so dry from being nervous, I choked on the food! But Michael quickly poured me a glass of water and I recovered – except for my ego!” said Adam Heard. Adam, who resides in New Dundee, Ontario, is currently focused on making videos and pod-casting about all things food. He blogs about his culinary journey, new recipes, and unique discoveries on kookchannel.com. Adam presents Firecracker Chicken with Rice and Lentils for Star of the Show.

“Adam’s love of being his family’s cook really resonated with me,” said Chef Michael Smith.

Chef Michael Smith brought a professional production team, complete with eight cameras and his own professional test kitchen to turn the blogger into a star.

“Until you try it, no one knows how tough it is to stand in front of a camera and teach an audience you can’t see. That’s why we threw our contestants straight into the studio. They quickly realized the immensity of the task which sharpened their focus so we could then teach them how to cook on camera,” said Chef Michael Smith. “I think the definition of a star in any media is your ability to share your passion with your audience, to make us believe in you. Every one of our winners exhibited that quality.”

The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) due to their health and sustainability benefits. Canada is one of the world’s largest pulse producing nations, growing lentils, peas, chickpeas, and beans. Types of lentils produced in Canada include commonly known green lentils and split red lentils, and lesser known black or beluga lentils and French Green lentils.

“As my family’s cook, I embrace simple sustainable solutions every chance I get and share them with everyone I know,” said Chef Michael Smith. “Lentils hit all the marks for me and helping Canadian families embrace them is my mission!”

Star of the Show Signature Lentil Recipes:

· Lentil Power Bites by Lalitha Taylor, Taylor Nutrition (Edmonton)
· Vegetarian Lentil Shepherd’s Pie by Koko Brill, Koko’s Kitchen (Vancouver)
· Firecracker Chicken with Rice and Lentils by Adam Heard, Kook Channel (New Dundee, ON)
· Coconut Chocolate Chip Lentil Blondies by Trudy Stone, Eat, Live and Play (Toronto)
· Lentil Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce by Sam Turnbull, It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken (Toronto)

“Food Bloggers are a great source of inspiration for home cooks. Canada has an abundance of creative food bloggers who draw people in through their personality and posts; they are becoming stars in their own right,” said Rachel Kehrig, Director, North America Market Promotion, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

“In recognizing that video is becoming an increasingly important tool for bloggers, we wanted to give them the experience of a lifetime in a top quality, television style cooking show production. And we know that it isn’t easy going from the written word to performance. That’s why we brought in cooking show host extraordinaire, Michael Smith to mentor the bloggers. The end result for each blogger is a piece of video that is worthy of food television.”

About Canadian Lentils
Canadian Lentils is an Official Mark of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, a farmer funded organization that works to advance the pulse industry in Saskatchewan, the heart of the lentil-growing region in Canada. For more information about Canadian Lentils and to see more great ways to cook with lentils, visit www.lentils.ca.

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