Cooking on TV a tasty recipe for Edmonton teacher
Appearing on a Netflix culinary competition provided the experience of a lifetime for an Edmonton teacher who’s been a lifelong fan of both TV and cooking.
Cook At All Costs required contestants to bid on ingredients then prepare two themed meals under severe time constraints. For teacher Tiff Pino, it was a thrilling and exhausting roller coaster ride.
“It was probably the coolest experience I’ve ever had,” Pino said.
An outreach teacher and graduation coach at Edmonton’s Cardinal Collins High School, Pino is also a dedicated foodie who takes pleasure in spending an entire day in the kitchen and whose culinary leanings have been heavily influenced by her Italian heritage.
So it was a bit of a scramble for her when, two weeks prior to taping, she learned that the theme of her episode would be “southern comfort,” in other words, she’d have to prepare dishes that were based on the cuisine of the southern United States. Pino practiced dishes like chicken, waffles and jambalaya but found it difficult to source other southern staples in Edmonton.
It wasn’t until the morning of the taping that contestants learned of the show’s ingredient auction format.
The competition involved cooking two dishes, one of the contestants’ choice (Pino chose ravioli) and one that was mandated. As it turned out, Pino had to prepare crawfish, grits and collard greens, all ingredients she tried but failed to find in Edmonton during the weeks leading up to the show’s taping.
“As much as the items in my ingredient box were new to me, I understood how much love and tradition goes into southern dishes,” Pino said. “Those are things I put into my own cooking every day, and I am very proud of the food I created.”
Getting onto the show was an act of endurance for Pino. It began with a family application to appear on CBC’s Family Feud Canada. The Pinos cleared a few of the preliminary stages before falling out of the running. However, a producer later reached out and asked if anybody in the family was a home cook. Pino jumped at that offer, which led to months and months of auditions and finally a taping at the CBC studios in Toronto last April.
The show taping was a whirlwind but also a marathon, lasting from 6 a.m. to midnight.
“It was like Christmas,” Pino said. “Everything’s a surprise. Everything’s exciting. I was exhausted by the end of the day.”
All eight episodes of the show have been available for viewing on the streaming service since December. Pino appeared in episode three.
One of the show’s promotional videos shows her engaged in frenzied cooking action and declaring “Oh man!” which has since become her signature catch phrase. Thanks to various friends and family members, she now has a mug and T-shirt bearing her face along with her catch phrase.
The appearance garnered global attention on social media, boosted Pino’s street cred with her students (many participate in her school’s cooking employment program) and earned her an invitation to deliver a cooking session at the Greater Edmonton Teachers’ Convention.
Her experience on the show also reinforced her personal conviction to always be authentic.
“The big takeaway was being myself was the best choice and I’m so proud of that,” Pino said.
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Success Stories is an ongoing feature that enables teachers to share their successes with their colleagues. To submit an idea or an article about a new program or approach that you’ve instituted, please contact managing editor Cory Hare at email@example.com.
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