Recipe to Riches reviewed, episode 7: Montreal Deli Style Dip
RECIPE TO RICHES Season 2, Episode 7
Last night’s episode, the final one before viewers get to choose the best of the best (voting runs December 5 to 7), was certainly bittersweet: on the one hand, there will be no more new products; but on the other hand, there will be no more new products. This season has been a bit of a mixed bag, and after watching each show and trying each dish, we can authoritatively state that we’re not quite sure how Recipe to Riches works. Oh, we get the format, sure, but we still can’t pin down the culinary voodoo at work in PC’s test kitchen, nor can we trace each marketing decision back to some trove of demographic data. We only know that Galen Weston Jr. and crew seem to pick a meatball for every brownie. Looking ahead to the grand prize, we hope the public makes a better call.
The most entertaining part about the opening round was probably Jesse Palmer’s attempt at comedy. The former football player tried to crack a joke about the contestants being guinea pigs since the Condiments and Dips category was new this year, but only managed to evoke nervous laughter. Competing this time around: Toronto’s Courtney O’Leary, who wisely rechristened her bizarrely named Ready-Made Topper as Gourmet Mushroom Topping; Cathy Ferguson, who brought a Reuben sandwich–inspired Montreal Deli Dip; and Kayode Atobatele, whose product was a hot sauce called Tobman’s Sauce of Joy. The batch-up challenge required contestants to prepare 75 litres of their dish (we half expected Ferguson to batch up some Reubens and throw them in a blender). Atobatele’s sauce actually improved through the batch-up, but the other two suffered, especially O’Leary: her topping ended up gluey and her mushrooms were overpowered, leaving her on the outs. Given Atobatele’s great batch-up performance, the competition was now his to lose—plus, he’s clearly an extrovert, smiling more often than not, and seems like a TV natural. But Ferguson displayed some true marketing grit, sticking with her product name (a move Tony Chapman approved of) and deploying a Montreal-style street food and circus concept (complete with bagel juggler), which earned her twice the number of people sampling her product as Atobatele. In the end, it was a close call. Weston thought Atobatele’s sauce had the potential to be the best hot sauce on the Loblaws shelves (high praise indeed), and found Ferguson’s concept “off-putting” (we can sympathize). But as Dana McCauley pointed out, the deli dip had a decided “water-cooler effect” advantage, which ultimately was enough for the judges to give her the nod.
Best line: McCauley, on Atobatele’s hot sauce: “This is almost a solvent.”
Best product not to be picked by the judges: Jar Full of Love
We hate to say it, but Galen really should’ve gone with his gut on this one, because the concept truly is off-putting. Some things just can’t be made more convenient, and a Reuben sandwich, itself not even terribly inconvenient to begin with, is one of them. (Note: if you want cocktail party–ready Reubens, just make smaller sandwiches.) Our panel is rarely unanimous—even the best and worst dishes faced some devil’s advocacy—but there were no such complications with the Deli Dip. It’s just gross, from it’s meat-flecked pastel orange colour to its Big Mac sauce taste and lumpy texture (we’ll insert our usual caveat that the homemade version might well have been better). One panelist, a former resident of Montreal, said this tasted nothing like the sandwiches at the delis he frequented, while another likened the dip to that city’s fiasco with its mayor. We can only suggest purchasing it if you can somehow find a way to un-purée it into an actual Reuben sandwich.
Suggested pairing: Chuck it and get a real Reuben.