Elycia Ross-Loetscher always enjoyed cooking and even from an early age she had an inkling she might have a talent for it.
However, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that she realized she had a serious, award-winning talent for it. The 20-year-old former Coombs resident found out in a big way though, taking home two prestigious culinary prizes in the space of just two weeks.
Ross-Loetscher, who is enrolled in the culinary arts program at Vancouver Island University, said she decided to enter the competitions after she saw them posted during her course. She decided to enter the U.S. Rice Federation cooking contest as well as the British Columbia Chefs Association’s Hot Live competition.
Sending in those recipes proved fateful.
“I sent in a recipe to the rice competition and it was chosen, along with 50 others from Canada,” she said. “They narrowed it down to the top 10 and then the top three and mine was chosen, along with two other students from Ontario.”
The news came hard on the heels of a trip to Vancouver, where she took the top prize of $500 in the Hot Live competition for her scallop recipe.
“I made a surf and turf-type of dish with scallops, steak, corn puree, cherry tomatoes, asparagus and filo crisps,” she said. “The recipe had to fit within a certain health criteria and we had half an hour to finish the plates, clean up our station, cook it all and plate it up.”
Shortly thereafter, she got the news about her rice dish.
“It was quite the week,” she said. “I had just come back from Vancouver, where I won the competition, and a few days later I was told I was being flown to Toronto for the rice competition.”
In that contest, the entrants had to use two different kinds of rice and be finished within an hour.
“I made a mango barbecue chicken and rice dish,” she said. “I made the barbecue sauce with mangoes and tomatoes and topped it with roasted chicken that I shredded,” she said. “I added red onions, cilantro, cayenne and some garlic mixed in with brown and white rice.”
When she plated up this dish, it didn’t take long for the judges to make their decision, awarding her the top prize of $1,500.
The cash was nice, but the implications were nicer — and more lucrative.
Thanks in part to the credibility she gained by the two wins, Ross-Loatscher secured a position at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff.
“Doing well in the competitions helped with that,” she said. “I have a six-month contract, but I’m not sure what’s going to happen after that.”
Whatever her future holds once she moves on from Banff, there’s little doubt it will be delicious.