East Side Mario’s and Barilla Pasta Challenge

Ever wonder how restaurants choose the entrees on their menus? If you’re talented enough, you can get your entrée on the menu of East Side Mario’s by winning the annual Pasta Challenge.

This event was created to inspire creativity among back-of-house employees at East Side Mario’s locations across Canada. More than 70 employees entered the contest, from which 6 finalists were chosen to compete in Toronto.

The East Side Mario’s & Barilla Pasta Challenge was held June 29, 2017, at The Chef’s House at George Brown College, with the following six contestants:

  • Alex Domingo, Calgary Shawnessy
  • Megan Nicolaidis, Brantford
  • Chloe Dutremble, Bromont
  • Cory Hemington, Pembroke
  • Melissa Gangl, Waterloo University
  • Miranda McLaughlin, Pembroke

That’s right – two of the finalists came from the same location in Pembroke!

A panel of eight judges, including Restaurants Canada’s own Curtis Byrd, sampled the pasta dishes, marking each on variables including taste and presentation.

And who was the talented winner? Check tomorrow to find out!


Note: Thanks to East Side Mario’s and Barilla for sponsoring the event, and to George Brown College for hosting it in the beautiful Chef’s House in Toronto.

And a disclaimer: As a media partner, I was also involved in the judging. Without a doubt, it was the most delicious contest I’ve had the privilege to judge!


Beth Pollock is a communications and content marketing expert. Working with Restaurants Canada, she has edited and published two newsletters (RC Insider and BITE); developed the RC Show website; managed social media feeds (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram); and written press releases, blog stories, operational manuals, and an op-ed for the Globe & Mail. Beth is also a freelance writer who has written for a number of publications about food, travel, and children’s books, and has written over 600 posts on her personal blog, Of Muses and Meringues about recipes and her personal travels. She has published three books for children.