My Be Well Story: Amirah Mansilla, 2nd place winner in the canola bake-off
Amirah Mansilla is a Red River College student in the baking program. This winter, she entered and placed second in the Manitoba Canola Growers Canola Bake-Off at Red River College, an optional competition for the baking program students.
Like the first place winner Jordain and her Pineapple & Carrot Chiffon Cake, entering the competition meant preparing for it outside of class time, an example of the passion that drives the busy baking students.
Amirah’s Cassava Cake with Shredded Coconut was one of the most unique entries the judge had seen in the competition.
A mutual theme reflected in both first and second place desserts: tradition. Both recipes came from their families. Amirah explained to the judges her cassava cake is a traditional Fillipino dessert, popular at all parties and reminiscent of her childhood.
When Amirah found out about the contest, which requires canola oil as an ingredient, she immediately asked her mom for the recipe to her cassava cake, “she had it in her mind and wrote it down on the spot for me,” Amirah pointed out. “She loves to bake too,” she continues about her mother, “If I ever wanted to make something I’d always ask her about it first.”
Baking was always on her mind
Amirah knew she wanted to take the baking program at Red River since she was in high school and planned ahead for it. She knew the program had a waiting period, so she applied for it before she graduated from high school. She waited to get in for a year and a half. She worked and travelled while she waited.
Baking is not the only thing Amirah does well with her hands. She also likes to sew. She says her love of sewing comes from her grandmother, “my grandma sews so I learned from her.” She makes dresses and shirts that she wears herself or gives away as gifts.
Amirah likes to exercise and enjoys doing Zumba. The cardio–dance combination workout works for her because “it makes exercising fun,” she explained. “It goes by fast and you feel great afterwards.”
She enjoys taking what she learns at school back home. “It’s fun to go back and use what you’ve learned at home,” she said. On this particular weekend she made a few pies since they covered pastry in class that week.
Amirah is excited to begin her co-op placement, a requirement of the program. She will spend six months at the Peller Estates Winery Restaurant, located in the Peller Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The program co-op lasts four months but she has been asked to stay for six months since it is the winery’s busiest time of year. “I don’t have much experience with wine but I’m looking forward to learning,” Amirah admitted.
She enjoys working in fast-pace environments and has always wanted to work at a hotel because it is fast-paced and on a large scale. She selected a restaurant for her co-op to see how she likes working in a restaurant environment, “I chose this coop specifically because I wanted to see how things operate at a restaurant to see if I like it,” she said.
As for her plans after graduation, all she knows is she wants to continue practicing her skills and start working right away. “If they want to keep me longer at my co-op, I’d stay there, she said. “If not come back home and look for a job here.”
Amirah is well on her way to success thanks to ability to plan ahead, her mother and grandmother who inspire her, and her special skills as a baker. We’re sure her Be Well Story is far from complete.
Be Well… Wendy
Cassava Cake with Shredded Coconut
3 eggs (3 )
1 cup sugar (250 mL)
3 Tbsp canola oil (45 mL)
1 tsp vanilla (5 mL)
1 can coconut milk (400 mL)
1 can condensed milk (300 mL)
3/4 cups coconut (175 mL)
2 pkg frozen grated cassava, thawed (16 oz) (454 g)
1. Combine eggs, sugar, canola oil and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low speed to combine ingredients, about 1 minute.
3. Pour mixture into an oiled 9×13 baking pan.
4. Bake at 350F for 1 hour.
5. Turn oven setting to broil. Broil cake until top of cake is golden brown, about 2 – 3 minutes.
What is cassava?
Cassava is a root plant originating from South America. Popular in Africa, South and Central America, India and Southeast Asia, it is a root rich in carbohydrates, mainly starch, and a major source of energy. In raw form, it is similar to a sweet potato in appearance, with a thick brown outer layer.
You can find it in Caribbean, African, Asian and Latin American stores. In Winnipeg, it can be found at Dino’s, Young’s, Lucky Supermarket, El Izalco, Marvin’s Food Store and even at Superstore (in the freezer section).