5 Questions with Emily Richards


Emily Richards

You might recognize one of our Canola Growers Cookie Contest runner-ups from Canadian Living Cooks -one of the first Food Network TV shows in Canada.

Emily Richards, professional Home Economist, began her career at Canadian Living; it led her to the world of recipe development and writing cookbooks, among plenty of other things. The title of her latest recipe book sums up her passion well –Get in the Kitchen and COOK! 

We talked to her to learn more about her passion for food and her inspiration behind her Crunchy Munchy Cookie (see recipe below).

Q. 1. Can you describe your cookie entry in the  Canola Growers Cookie Contest and your inspiration behind it?

It was a play on breakfast, it was made out of cereal and dried fruit  -two flavours I really enjoy together. I love making chocolate chip cookies, but my kids aren’t a very big fan of them, they actually love oatmeal.

For the cookie I used bran flakes instead of oatmeal, which gave it a unique texture and gives you a crunch. Plus, it gives you a little extra fibre that no one needs to know about. In this case you can’t taste it, so unless you tell them, they don’t know what’s in it. I also love chewy cookies as opposed to crispy, so that’s where the chewy comes in.

Q. 2. You have an extensive background as a Home Economist, can you tell us what made you choose this particular career path?

I didn’t really choose this career path, I landed upon it. Luck has a funny way of coming through. I went to school to become a dietician, specializing in food and nutrition, but I went through it knowing I didn’t want to be a dietician. In a way it was good thing because I didn’t have to fight for an internship with the rest of my classmates. I loved restaurant work and loved food service but wanted to provide the nutrition part of it, I knew with my background that was something I could bring to the table. My goal was to have my own restaurant where I could share my ideas of food with people.

After I graduated, I got a summer position working at Canadian Living Magazine in an entry-level position. It was an experience that showed me a whole new side of food. As a magazine, I loved it and looked up to it, but after getting position, it opened my eyes to how recipes get developed and tested. Going into recipe development, I realized that having my background in nutrition was very important. I hadn’t even thought of it, or planned it out that way, but that is how my background in nutrition transitioned into recipe development.  That’s where it all started. I was really fortunate to have worked with great people who took the time out to show me the ropes.

I was there (at Canadian Living Magazine) for 8 years. My internship led me to a part time position. Then I became employed at the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking. Bonnie taught the cooking classes, and I worked in the cookware shop and assisted her in classes on the weekends. Getting to experience her cooking classes was what got me into the whole teaching side of things. I loved that I was able to tell people about food and show them how to cook in a different way.

It was the mid 90’s a lot of new things were happening in the food world, like food tv gaining in popularity. Canadian Living had a show a number of years ago. Everyone in recipe development got to do food segments right when it was starting, so that is where I began. In 1999, we heard the Food Network was coming to Canada, and the producers said they wanted a food show. So in 2000, Canadian Living Cooks began airing on the Food Network Canada.

Q. 3 What have been some of your career highlights?

The TV show was a big one; it made me more visible in the industry. People would recognize me at the grocery store and ask me questions like: what should I make for dinner tonight?

One of the other highlights was publishing my first cookbook. In 2005, Italian Express came out. It brought me new experiences working outside of a magazine. I had been a co-author of the Glycemic Index with Rick Gallop, but this was different and exciting.

Another highlight is that I have been given the opportunity to teach in cooking schools and in cities across Canada. Teaching cooking is a life skill lost in home economics, and I believe the necessity of that information is important. I tend to assume people already know everything that I talk about but then I discover that there is segments of people that don’t know, so going back to the basics to talk and educate people is always nice and a good refresher for me.

I am still doing recipe development. I do it for different magazines and a newspaper column. I also develop recipes for marketing boards and I still teach too. I do spokesperson work, TV and radio appearances doing what I love to do: talk about food.

Q. 4 What is the one meal that always makes your family/friends always request?

Veal cutlets. Breaded with homemade pasta sauce, thankfully something that is easy for me. I have an Italian background, so it’s second nature for me, we put a lot of stress on  food in the Italian household.

Q. 5. What has been your biggest culinary blunder?

One of the biggest ones for me was public speaking, back in university.  I remember on time we had a huge group project we had to present and our topic was kosher food. I grew up in northern Ontario as wasn’t as cultured as I am now so I did lots of research. So as I stood up there talking about a topic I wasn’t familiar with, I decided I just couldn’t talk about things I didn’t know about! Little did I know, I would later go on to be on TV show.

Now I prepare for TV cooking segments by talking to myself as I cook, or thinking about what I’m going to say in my head as I go along. That way I’m not caught off guard when I’m on the air and I will always have an answer. It’s harder than you may think to cook and talk at the same time, while looking at the camera.

On cooking level, there are lots of incidents. Just ask my husband about the 15 coffee cakes I made once, none of which he tried!

Be well… Wendy