Last night, as thousands of Canadians looked on from their living rooms, Recipe to Riches came full circle when Glo McNeill, winner of episode one’s sweet puddings and pies challenge, took home the $250,000 prize. The vivacious grandma from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, impressed the country with her Luscious Lemon Pudding Cakes, beating out John Grass and his Chicken Grenades in the final elimination round. The cakes weren’t the office favourite, but we have to respect such a simple recipe trouncing the competition. We caught up with her just after the taping to discuss her toughest rivals, web presence and what she plans to do with all that cash. Read our Q&A with the one and only G-Lo from Lunenberg, after the jump.
You said in the finale that you didn’t expect to win. Was that just modesty?
I’ve been following this online, and I’ve been looking at people raving about the kulfi ice cream. I really thought it was going to come down to Rosy and me. I thought she had a huge support network and her product was extraordinarily well received. I mean, some of the comments about it were just lyrical. Now, I took a couple of mouthfuls and I didn’t care for it at all, but that’s a personal palate.
Do you know how well your product is selling?
We could only go on hearsay, word of mouth. I know they were sold out along the south shore, which is where I live, because people kept phoning me up and asking, “When are you going to make some more?” But I had no no way of knowing besides what I read on my Tweetdeck or on Facebook.
Were you active on social networking before the competition?
I got my first computer in 1986. I played Scrabble on ISC [Internet Scrabble Club] for many, many years. So computers are nothing new to me—mind you, I’m sort of an idiot savant because I don’t know how they work—but when I found out it was going to be cyber-voting, I took it very seriously.
So do you think your personality contributed to your success? Being a somewhat tech-savvy, eloquent old lady…
Compared to a gorgeous 22-year-old with incredible tattoos and hair down to her behind? Or compared to a six-foot, four-inch ex-football champion? We all had our charms, or else we wouldn’t be up there as finalists.
So what are you going to do with all that money?
First we’re going to have a good Christmas, a damn good Christmas. Second we’re going to get the builder in to look at our 140-year-old house and fix all the little niggly things that have been worrying us. We haven’t had a holiday in a long, long time. We’re going to be able to go to the dentist without thinking we can’t afford it. So, really and truly, we won’t have to look over our shoulders for a long, long time.
What have you used your $25,000 for?
We put away enough to cover our mortgage payments for the next year, which is huge. Visa took a lot, you know. And the rest is just going on basic living. It couldn’t have happened at a better time, because we were really at a stage where we were thinking we were gonna have to talk with the children to see if they could help us, which is a horrendous thing to have to do.
Do you have any other genius recipes to share?
I’ve written a family cookbook and I think they’re all genius recipes. You’ve probably not seen the Facebook page, G-Lo from Lunenburg? Well, I’ve been doing quotes from the family recipe book, which is used on most Canadian coast guard ships because of Drew. [McNeill’s son is a senior captain.]
We’ve been wondering: why is your cartoon likeness painting on the box art?
I used to make my living teaching art. And since this show has happened, a new gallery has picked up on my paintings. So, after not painting seriously for 40 years, I’m back in business. I was in the 1967 centennial exhibition of Canadian women painters. My best years were pre-1974.
How do you think the product is going to do going forward?
I think it’s going to be the sort of thing that’s totally ageless. I’ve worked on a gluten-free version as a result of comments I’ve read about how excited people were about a gluten-free cookie. So I experimented with flours and I was just mentioning it to Galen Weston, and he said, “Let’s talk about it.” So there may well be a gluten-free version. I think it’s going to be around a long time.
Always with your name attached to it?
Irrelevant. I don’t mind. I’ve had my moment. How much excitement does an 82-year-old want?