A local woman defeated three competitors to survive the chopping block and win $10,000 on the Food Network's Chopped Canada.
Stephanie Schoales is a chef and mother of one who lives and used to work in Kelowna. She was on maternity leave from her role as senior chef de partie at Smack Dab restaurant at Manteo Resort when the competition was filmed. After winning the $10,000, she decided to extend her vacation just a bit longer.
She competed and won last May, but the episode did not air until Thursday night - she has been living in silence until today.
"It feels really good," she said. "Everyone got to see that my hard work paid off - I can jump up and down now."
Chopped Canada is a televised culinary competition, where four chefs compete in front of a panel of expert judges.
They are given a basket of mystery ingredients and have to dream up, cook and serve a dish to the judges within a time limit.
Schoales said she applied for the show one day while on the couch with her one-month-old son.
"I didn't tell anybody, I didn't even tell my husband, I just went online and told my story," she said.
Schoales said she was a bit of an underdog as a third line chef from a restaurant in Kelowna, up against Daniel Trottier, a chef instructor from l'Academie Culinarie in Montreal, Jonathan Sobol the executive chef at the Redwater Rustic Grille in Calgary and Tobias Grignon, executive chef of Mamie Taylor's in Vancouver.
"I'm just third in the line. Ya, I ran the line at night, but my name isn't on any menus," she said.
"I wanted to prove that I can do it all - be a good mom and an amazing chef - I don't have to give up either."
For the appetizer round, Schoales said she squeaked through after one of the other competitors forgot to put an ingredient on the plate.
"My original dish was supposed to be pan-seared prawns and I ended up making a soup with salad in it."
For the main course, Schoales had to work with lamb kidneys.
"That was definitely the most difficult ingredient, I had never worked with that before."
And for the final round, she brought together Montreal smoked meat and a sweet brittle for a salty-sweet dessert that won her the big prize.
Schoales said her previous experience in smaller, un-televised cooking competitions helped her in Chopped, but she gave the most credit to her friends and husband.
"When my friends found out I was on Chopped, they would bring over different courses of mystery baskets and then judged me," she said. "They were really mean about it, too."
Moving forward, Schoales said the competition gave her the confidence to start a new path for herself.
"I want to figure out a way to not have to go back to the restaurant every night," she said.