A journeyman plumber/gasfitter from Rocky Mountain House who showcased her culinary skills on national TV is preparing to open a restaurant.
Dora Cote, who cooked her way to an 11th-place finish on Season 1 of CTV’s MasterChef Canada, expects Dora’s Rocky Mountain Roadhouse to be serving local diners next month.
“We’re just waiting on our kitchen equipment and then we’ll be able to announce a grand opening.”
Cote credits her MasterChef experience — which involved competition against other contestants in front of three celebrity chefs — for enabling her to become a restaurateur.
“Without MasterChef I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “I’d still be plumbing.”
Not only is she much faster and more creative than she was previously, the show validated her cooking skills and gave her the courage to try new and different things, said Cote.
“It opened my eyes a lot, actually.”
Her willingness to be adventurous around the stove is evident from Dora’s Rocky Mountain Roadhouse’s menu. Options will include “chicken pot fries,” which is Cote’s answer to poutine, with pot pie filling and freshly baked pie shell crumbled over the cheese curds and fries; and “mac and cheese Wellington,” which substitutes homemade mac and cheese for the traditional beef.
The breakfast menu, which will be offered on weekends to start with and expanded to weekdays if demand warrants, will include eggs Benedict served on Yorkshire pudding, garlic potato duchess, prime rib au jus and asparagus; and french toast with peanut butter sauce and banana foster.
There will also be more contemporary choices, such as oven-baked ribs with homemade barbecue sauce and corn bread muffins, and fresh pies and cakes. And blackboard specials will be offered — although nothing like the tired steak sandwich pitched at many restaurants.
“You will never see that here.”
Dora’s Rocky Mountain Roadhouse will occupy the former premises of Black Stump Char-Grill at 4504 48th Ave., overlooking Hwy 11. With seating for 150 in its dining room and lounge, the restaurant has undergone major renovations since Cote took over.
“We added a privacy lounge off of the bar and totally converted the seating.”
Cote rolled up her sleeves and performed the plumbing work, and she’s received a helping hand in the venture from her fellow MasterChef contestant and now friend Carly Tennant. Financial backing has come from local investors Jason and Chelsea Alderson, and Carol Buick.
“The problem being you can’t go to the bank after you’ve been a plumber for 15 years and say the words ‘startup’ and ‘restaurant’ in the same sentence,” pointed out Cote.
She expects to employ 16 to 20 people, and these might one day find themselves on TV as well.
“Proper Television, who produced and made (MasterChef), has approached us for a reality show regarding the restaurant,” said Cote. “It was actually Proper Television that gave us the name, Dora’s Rocky Mountain Roadhouse.”
The 38-year-old said her cooking skills are mostly self-taught, although an affinity for kitchens runs in her family.
“My father actually started off as a chef, and then became a plumber. It looks like I’m going to do the opposite.”