The six remaining home cooks from across the country were all dressed in their Sunday best for the season finale of Recipe to Riches. The drama was suitably amped up, given the $250,000 at stake: gold envelopes containing the identities of the winners were kept on a pedestal under a glass lid, always in plain view (we attended the taping in person this week and got to see a few off-camera hijinks, like judges Laura Calder and Tony Chapman having a mock slap fight). Host Jesse Palmer called up two contestants at a time, Noah’s ark style, for a one-on-one elimination (notably, this structure was only possible with Smart Cookie creator Sonya Walos’s absence; she never came up). Before each matchup, a standard reality TV video recap of each contestant’s “Recipe to Riches journey” was played. Then, the usually cheerful Palmer turned suddenly grave before revealing which contestant would be going home.
The opening faceoff was between Jacqui Keseluk (Rock ’n’ Peach Bliss Cheesecake) and John Grass (Chicken Grenades). Keseluk was the first kicked out of the running, but revealed that her old community college was helping her plan a pastry shop anyway. On his way back to his seat, Grass gave fellow barbecuer-in-arms Robert Luft a hearty fist bump.
Next up were Melaney Gleeson-Lyall (Bannock Hazelnut Pie) and Luft (Slow and Low Pulled Pork). Lyall credited the competition with bringing her mother’s side, father’s side and adopted family together for the first time. However, it was Luft who got the nod for the next round, returning Grass’s fist bump as he took his seat.
A near-mute Rosy Soobrattee (Kulfi Karma) took the stage alongside a dumbstruck Glo McNeill (Luscious Lemon Pudding Cake)—“You’re just giving hand signals today,” Palmer quipped. Once she found her words, G-Lo explained that her son Drew, captain of Canada’s largest icebreaker, actually moved a few satellites around to be able to watch her episode in the arctic—once the ship hit dry dock, Loblaws shipped 24 cases of the pudding cakes for the crew. In the end, a visibly disappointed Soobrattee was edged out of the final three. “Life is short, life is sweet,” she mused. “I’m truly blessed.”
With only Luft, Grass and Glo remaining (and positioned in perfect height order), it was time for Galen Weston Jr. to make his grand entrance and drop a few pithy comments. The Chicken Grenades, for instance, “virtually blew the freezer doors off.” First out: Luft, who left with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. Down to two, McNeill confessed that she had “very, very old butterflies in [her] tummy doing handstands.” For the final announcement, Palmer, for the last time, turned on his latter-day Cronkite face and announced that Grandma Glo was Canada’s choice as winner of Recipe to Riches. Cue a giant novelty cheque and a face full of confetti. Family, friends and judges all rushed onstage for the requisite hugs, but before Palmer closed the show, he revealed that auditions for a second season aren’t far away. We can’t say we’re shocked: the show is equal parts reality TV and marketing stunt, and has a built-in cross-country fan base of aspiring home cooks. Who knows? Maybe next year, we’ll be graced with a President’s Choice–brand gulab jamun.