Yesterday I wrote about the East Side Mario’s and Barilla Pasta Challenge held at The Chef’s House, George Brown College, in Toronto. And today I’m pleased to announce the winner: Miranda McLaughlin of the Pembroke location of East Side Mario’s! Miranda created and served an amazing Lemon Shrimp Spaghettini entree.

I was fortunate to have a few minutes with her after the competition ended to hear what led to her win.

This was the first time she’d entered the challenge. “I wasn’t going to enter, but my front-of-house manager, Adam Gunter, convinced me to enter a recipe to motivate the rest of the staff.” And she was also motivated by the thought of her sons. She thought, “How cool would it be to show my kids I could do something like this?”

Still, she hesitated, only entering on the last day of the contest. Over 70 employees entered a recipe, but only six competitors made it to the finals, including Miranda.

She and the other five entrants were brought to Toronto to prepare for the competition, and they got to know each other immediately. “We spent a day in the kitchen prepping for the contest,” she said, “and we all came together to get things done. We helped each other out so everyone could do their best.”

The results of the contest were delicious! Having tasted all of the dishes, I could picture any of them being an excellent addition to the East Side Mario’s menu. But there could only be one winner, and Miranda’s Lemon Shrimp Spaghettini was both delicious and beautifully presented.

Congratulations to Miranda McLaughlin, whose dish will appear on the East Side Mario’s menu across Canada this fall!

By the way, here’s a photo of the six entrees that made the finals – proof of the amazing things that happen when you combine high-quality Barilla pasta and a group of very talented East Side Mario’s chefs.

Pasta entrees


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.