Cookie maker looking to bake recipe to riches 

Whistler resident competing on Food Network show

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Life is rough for Sonya Walos and others like her who need to stick to gluten-free diets.

Walos has to keep wheat out of her diet because it does funky things to her body when she ingests it.

So from the time she was diagnosed as being gluten intolerant two years ago she went on a mission to bake the perfect wheat-free cookie.

And now she is set to share her recipe with all of Canada after being chosen to appear on a new Food Network show, Recipe To Riches.

The Food Network channel wants to give one lucky average Canadian $250,000 for coming up with a superior food recipe - and Walos hopes it will be her.

"I'm staring at Food Network all the time," Walos said a few days out from her network television debut. "If you come to my house 90 per cent of the time Food Network is on."

When she saw a commercial encouraging Canadians to submit auditions for the new show she felt compelled to submit her gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Her submission was followed by an invitation to compete on the show. The Whistler resident will make her television debut on Wednesday (Nov. 16) at 6 p.m.

Walos, a manager at Whistler's Amsterdam Pub, is contractually obligated to hold back some information so she can't share very many details of her experience in filming her episode. Information about Walos posted to the show's website indicated she is 31 years old but in fact she is still only 30 and her birthday is a few days away.

"As a young lady here, I'd like to retain my thirtieth year for a little longer if I could," said Walos.

Her episode is focused on sweet and savory snacks. The Whistler cookie recipe is going up against a pancake breakfast cookie created by Donna Feir of Vancouver
 along with a s'more treat created by Quebec entrant Natasha Langevin.

The television series started with a sweet puddings and pies competition then moved to cakes in week two and appetizers for the third week. In the weeks ahead frozen treats and entrees will be featured.

Walos revealed that her episode was shot last winter.

"It all happened super quickly and it all had to be so quiet," she said.

There was very little time between getting the call from the show's producers then flying to Toronto for the shooting of the episode.

Recipe To Riches is hosted by former Bachelor star Jesse Palmer, along with food writer Laura Calder, marketing expert Tony Chapman and food trend expert Dana McCauley. The judges are tasked with choosing the best recipe each week and at the end of the reality show series one of the home cooks will not only have their original recipe become a Presidents Choice product they will become eligible for a grand prize of $250,000.

Walos said if she wins the big money she plans to buy her mom an apartment in Campbell River and then look to start up her own business with the rest of the winnings.

The gluten-free chocolate chip cookie came about when Walos concluded nobody had come up with a good gluten-free cookie. She described most of the cookies available for people like her as either hard as hockey pucks or they fall apart when touched.

"I couldn't figure out why nobody could make something that was a soft baked cookie," she said. "I missed that texture so badly and it took me a long time - over 160 batches (to perfect a recipe)."

When she started sharing the cookies with her friends she didn't say anything about them being gluten-free and, according to Walos, her friends were telling her they loved her cookies.

Many didn't believe her when she informed them the cookie was gluten-free.

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