Lisa Shkoda, a junior in dietetics, made her television debut Oct. 24 on the WCIA morning show as part of the Central Illinois Top Home Chef cooking competition.
After seeing a contest advertisement, Shkoda decided to take her love of food and cooking to television. She recorded a video application, sent it in and received the call that she had been accepted into the contest. Shkoda chose her family's favorite breakfast, cheese-stuffed crepes, to prepare on live television.
"I decided to cook something simple that everyone can make," she said. "Appearing on television was a form of public outreach for me. I wanted to show people how easy it is to make a delicious meal with the basic ingredients and kitchen utensils."
What made Shkoda's application unique were the changes she made to the recipe. She said the original recipe came from her native Ukraine and is high in calories. Her health-conscious mindset and love of cooking led her to experiment with the ingredients and develop a healthier option. She substituted whole flour and brown sugar for white flour and sugar. She also used a minimal amount of eggs, skim milk and substituted non-fat yogurt for the traditional sour cream. The Ukrainian version is fried, but Shkoda found that simply increasing the cooking temperature in a skillet gave a similar effect.
"I have loved to cook ever since I can remember," she said. "I also love experimenting with recipes and improving the nutritional value of food. It's important to eat healthy and have a balanced diet."
Shkoda enjoyed cooking on television, and her appearance was recognized by several local dietitians. She said she accomplished her goal of reaching an audience that appreciated healthy, quick food options.
"In the future, I want to have a career that combines research and public outreach," she said. "I would love to have my own cooking show so I can demonstrate how to experiment with ingredients and cut down on preparation time."
Shkoda said the U of I food science and human nutrition department is very supportive of her niche in the food industry.
"The U of I has a great program in nutrition and dietetics and has provided me with additional knowledge in nutrition as well as research and chemical processes," she said.