April 1, 2014
A Memorial commerce alumna is stirring things up on a nationally-televised cooking competition.
Cyra Belbin, 31, is a finalist in the CBC television show Recipe to Riches with a $250,000 grand prize on the line for the five competitors. The final episode airs on Wednesday, April 2 at 9:30 p.m. in Newfoundland.
Recipe to Riches is a reality television show that features amateur home cooks competing in weekly episodes to have their personal recipes become a President’s Choice product and win $25,000. Each episode features a different food category and contestants are judged on the taste, mass appeal and marketing potential of their recipes.
The winner of each episode earns a spot in the final and a shot at the grand prize. Ms. Belbin won the savory snacks category in a one-hour episode that aired on March 26.
“I was so excited!” she says. “It was such an amazing experience, and it was even more exciting knowing that I was going to have a President’s Choice product that I created in market!”
Nation-wide voting factors into the selection of the overall winner and so in the week since her episodic victory, Ms. Belbin has been on a whirlwind publicity tour to seek votes and promote her product, Mexi Mac’n’Cheese Bites.
“In the next round of competition, it will be my marketing and communications experiences that will help me succeed. I have prepared a full communications plan and social media content calendar to help me through the adventure. This plan will not only allow me to best reach Canada but also to enjoy the experience to the fullest by being prepared.”
In addition to her undergraduate commerce degree from Memorial, Ms. Belbin has a master of business administration from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. She has worked as a marketing specialist with the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation for the past six years.
But it was her first-hand experience working in a family-owned business that initially piqued her interest in business. Ms. Belbin’s family owns Belbin’s Grocery, an independent store that has been operating in St. John’s since 1943.
“Having grown up in a family business, I feel that I was destined to study business. I saw the passion, drive and pride that came with running your own business [and] I wanted to learn more about how to succeed in that discipline,” she says. “Growing up I worked as a cashier at Belbin’s. I learned the importance of customer service from my father, and I still apply it across every aspect of my life. He also taught me about hard work and determination, which has gotten me as far as I have in my career and on Recipe to Riches.”
Ms. Belbin also got her interest in cooking from her father, Chris Belbin.
“My father is an amazing cook. He taught me a lot, especially about taking risks and trying new things,” she says. “Sometimes his experiments were huge successes. Other times – well, my mom would say, ‘This is good, dear, but don’t make it again.’ Dad has always encouraged me in the kitchen and I owe a lot to him.”