Creswell has plenty on her plate

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TV - AN­DREW FEN­TON

CAR­MAN’S Fine Foods queen Carolyn Creswell may have spent 20 years build­ing an in­ter­na­tional food sup­ply em­pire, but that didn’t stop the suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur burst­ing into tears on the way to her first day of film­ing for Ten’s new re­al­ity com­pe­ti­tion Recipe to Riches.

“We’re half- way there and I’m crying so heav­ily in the back seat of the car, this poor driver is say­ing to me, ‘ What’s wrong’?” Creswell said.

“I said: ‘ Why am I do­ing this? I’ve got four kids un­der eight, I’ve got a full- time job in Melbourne, I don’t live in this state, what was I think­ing get­ting in­volved in a TV show based out of Syd­ney?”

The driver, a wise and philo­soph­i­cal chap, turned and told her: “Ev­ery­thing in life hap­pens for a rea­son and I reckon by the end of this you’ll think it is one of the best things you’ve ever done.” “I don’t think so,” Creswell bawled. In Ten’s lat­est foray into food- based re­al­ity TV, Recipe to Riches sees home chefs of­fer up a dish with the aim of get­ting it com­mer­cialised and turned into a real prod­uct on su­per­mar­ket shelves across Aus­tralia.

As one of the three ex­perts on the show along­side ad- man David “Nobby” Nobay and chef Dar­ren Robert­son, Creswell has the runs on the board to help turn cook- at- home hope­fuls into com­mer­cial suc­cesses.

Any­one who has bought a pack of her muesli would know Creswell’s story, as the ba­sic yarn is writ­ten on the back of each pack.

In 1992, as an 18- year- old, she got a part­time gig mak­ing muesli at her lo­cal bak­ery and of­fered the owner $ 1000 to take it over when she de­cided to pull out.

Flat broke for the first five years, she used to siphon petrol out of her mum’s car to be able to make de­liv­er­ies, but she has since turned Car­men’s into a muesli em­pire, ex­pand­ing to 22 prod­uct lines sold around the world and amass­ing a per­sonal for­tune of $ 55 mil­lion. Now 39, she was the youngest en­trant on

Busi­ness Re­view Weekly’s in­au­gu­ral women’s rich list this year and was named last year’s Tel­stra Busi­ness Woman of the Year.

But none of those ac­com­plish­ments helped on day one of Recipe to Riches.

Af­ter the cab melt­down, “I had to eat oys­ter pasta which had been re­heated twice, fol­lowed by milk­fish boiled in milk, and then the piece de re­sis­tance was the prawn ice cream”, Creswell laughed. “At the end of the day I was still go­ing: ‘ Why am I do­ing this?’”

But it turns out her driver was right on the money.

“It is prob­a­bly one of the best things I’ve ever done, get­ting in­volved in the show, and I’m bloody proud of it,” Creswell said.

While the ti­tle might sug­gest it is just an­other cut- price re­al­ity cook­ing show, Recipe to

Riches is ac­tu­ally one of the more in­no­va­tive and in­ter­ac­tive pro­grams you’re likely to see this year.

It is based on the Cana­dian se­ries of the same name, which is in its third sea­son and has just made the jump from ca­ble to net­work tele­vi­sion.

Each week for 11 weeks, three or­di­nary home cooks – and some of them are very or­di­nary – are short­listed in a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct cat­e­gory. They then have to try to “batch up” their recipe with the help of chef and Three Blue Ducks restau­ra­teur Robert­son to see how well it works when cooked in large quan­ti­ties, at which point one con­tes­tant is knocked out.

The re­main­ing two move on to pack­ag­ing and brand­ing, be­fore hav­ing a prod­uct launch ( all of which of­fer some nice Gruen Trans­fer

style in­sights into mar­ket­ing) with the help of Nobay, from in­de­pen­dent ad­ver­tis­ing net­work Droga5.

Fi­nally, af­ter much dis­cus­sion among the judges, a win­ner is cho­sen and their dish goes into pro­duc­tion.

The day af­ter the show is broad­cast, the win­ning prod­uct is avail­able in 900 Wool­worths supermarkets across the coun­try.

Sales fig­ures de­ter­mine the ul­ti­mate win­ner, who gets $ 100,000 and the sat­is­fac­tion of see­ing their prod­uct re­main on su­per­mar­ket shelves.

While it’s not cor­po­rate- funded, it is quite clearly a mas­sive mar­ket­ing and brand­ing ex­er­cise for Woolies, with gen­eral man­ager Lizzy Ry­ley com­plet­ing the four- per­son judg­ing panel.

But that doesn’t take away from the im­pres­sive feat of get­ting a prod­uct into stores and keep­ing it a se­cret in an age when al­most ev­ery­one is armed with a cam­era on their smart­phone.

“You’ve got to watch [ and think] some­how, be­hind the scenes at 900 stores around the coun­try, af­ter the show has fin­ished air­ing, the next morn­ing the prod­uct is go­ing to be on show,” Creswell said.

“It’s a se­cret and no one is go­ing to know what the prod­uct is un­til then. The lo­gis­tics be­hind the scenes are phe­nom­e­nal.”

Creswell doesn’t need money or fame. She agreed to do the show so she could share her ex­pe­ri­ence in tak­ing prod­ucts from the kitchen to su­per­mar­ket shelves to help change peo­ple’s lives.

As it turned out, an aw­ful lot of the work she did to help the con­tes­tants im­prove their prod­ucts was done off cam­era.

“Twenty years ago I had a very small dream of mak­ing my busi­ness be­come this com­mer­cial re­al­ity, and what I feel we do on this show is we fast- track that process enor­mously,” she said.

“It’s an amaz­ing, emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for th­ese peo­ple for their dreams to come true.”

Creswell said the big point of dif­fer­ence be­tween Recipe to Riches and other cook­ing shows such as My Kitchen Rules and

MasterChef – apart from the fact you can ac­tu­ally taste the con­tes­tants’ food the next day – is most of the en­trants weren’t great cooks, they have just got one great idea.

Take 29- year- old couch potato Casey Ste­wart in the “Snack At­tack” episode, for ex­am­ple. She had the idea of pour­ing a can of pump­kin soup over her mum’s potato bake and accidentally in­vented a tasty new dish.

“There was no one who was like a chef or some amaz­ing foodie per­son,” Creswell said, adding the con­tes­tants “could be any­one”.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Stephen Tate called Creswell “one of the best cast­ings of the year”, but she laughed off any sug­ges­tion of pur­su­ing a ca­reer on TV.

“That’s very sweet,” she said of Tate’s com­ments. “[ But] this is not about tele­vi­sion for me … I love my life and, in fact, this was a lit­tle side- diver­sion.

“I can’t imag­ine there’s any other TV for me af­ter this.”

RECIPE TO RICHES

TDT, Tues­day 8.30pm

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