Cooking with Kenna Deo

An Affordable Date Night Meal for Students

by Mike Duddy | 02.08.23 | Features, Recipe, Videos

Join Mike as he follows Kenna Deo through making a delicious date night meal. Kenna is a recent VIU Grad who was the champion of Season 2 Episode 4 of the Food Networks Wall of Chefs. Kenna prepares a delicious meal of Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo with tomatoes, asparagus, and fresh baked focaccia bread. Follow along […]
Kenna Deo with a black apron next to white text reading "Cook with The Nav" on a green background

Join Mike as he follows Kenna Deo through making a delicious date night meal. Kenna is a recent VIU Grad who was the champion of Season 2 Episode 4 of the Food Networks Wall of Chefs. Kenna prepares a delicious meal of Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo with tomatoes, asparagus, and fresh baked focaccia bread. Follow along yourself!



Okay, first thing’s first!

We went ahead and priced out this meal at less than $30.00 worth of ingredients (with current food prices, your mileage may vary), and while we plate this meal in 2 bowls, it easily fed four with leftovers.

However, the quality of this dish is spectacular, and as Kenna points out, it is very flexible. You could drive the price down with things like mushrooms or peas instead of asparagus. Or you could skip the vegetables all together!


Recipe: Focaccia Bread


First up is the Focaccia bread: This recipe takes some time as you need to give your dough time to rise. You can start this the morning of, or even the evening before if necessary. To make this you will need:




  • 1 1/3 cup warm water (about 43°C/110°F)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
  • 1 (0.25 ounce) package active-dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling*
  • Dried herbs to sprinkle on top (or fresh Rosemary)




  1. Proof the yeast.  Add warm water (about 43°C/110°F, which you can measure with a thermometer if you want to be sure it’s the right temp) and sugar to a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water.  Give the yeast a quick stir to mix it in with the water.  Then let it sit for 5-10 minute until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Knead the dough.  Gradually stir in the flour, olive oil and salt until a shaggy dough begins to form. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes until smooth, adding extra flour if the dough feels too sticky.
  3. First dough rise. Remove dough from the mixing bowl, and use your hands to shape it into a ball.  Grease the mixing bowl (or a separate bowl) with olive oil or cooking spray, then place the dough ball back in the bowl and cover it with a damp towel.  Place in a warm location (I set mine by a sunny window) and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes, or until it has nearly doubled in size.
  4. Second dough rise. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll it out into a large circle or rectangle until that the dough is about 1/2-inch thick*. Cover the dough again with the damp towel, and let the dough continue to rise for another 20 minutes.
  5. Prepare the dough. Preheat oven to 400°F. Transfer the dough to a large parchment-covered baking sheet (or press it into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish). Use your fingers to poke deep dents (seriously, poke all the way down to the baking sheet!) all over the surface of the dough. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil evenly all over the top of the dough, and sprinkle evenly with the fresh rosemary needles and sea salt.
  6. Bake. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is slightly golden and cooked through.
  7. Serve. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired. Slice, and serve warm.



Recipe: Fettuccini Alfredo


While the bread is baking it’s time to get started on the pasta. To make this you will need:




  • 1/2 Bundle Asparagus
  • 2 Cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Spinach
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Large Shallot
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 284ml Clam Nectar
  • 1/2 bag (roughly 30) shrimp (deveined)
  • 1 package of fettuccine noodles
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded parmesan
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Fish Rub
  • Fennel seeds
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Parsley (Fresh or dry)




  1. Devein and season shrimp.  In a small bowl, toss deveined shrimp with olive oil then sprinkle with fish rub and seasoning salt. Then place in the fridge to marinade.
  2. Prep Tomatoes and Asparagus. Snap the bottoms off the asparagus and slice into bite sized pieces. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet with cherry tomatoes. Drizzle and toss with oil and then drizzle with balsamic glaze. Set aside while bread bakes. If you have fresh parsley, you slice it up now.
  3. Mince Shallot and Garlic. Finely mince the shallot and the garlic, combine into a container.
  4. Wash and Roughly Chop Spinach.
  5. When the Bread comes out: increase the temp to 425F and put baking sheet in for 8-10 minutes
  6. Boil water and preheat pan on medium high heat.
  7. Cook Pasta according to recipe, pulling it out early to finish in sauce. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.
  8. Sear Shrimp. Place shrimp one at a time in the pan until all shrimp are in. Then immediately start removing them, searing only one side. (The shrimp will finish in the sauce). DO NOT CLEAN THE PAN AFTER REMOVING SHRIMP.
  9. Reduce to medium heat and add shallot and garlic into the pan. Add garlic and shallot along with 2 Tbsp butter to pan. Fry for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly.
  10. Add Spinach. Allow spinach to wilt and reduce in size.
  11. Add Clam Nectar, increase heat to medium-high. Pour in clam nectar, allowing it to reduce and thicken.
  12. Add Heavy Cream.
  13. Add Shrimp to sauce. Allow the sauce to cook for a minute or two.
  14. Add Pasta to sauce along with the tomato and asparagus. Allow the sauce to cook for another minute.
  15. Add 1 cup parmesan. Leave remaining 1/4 cup to top. add pasta water as needed to help with consistency.
  16. Add Parsley. To taste and appearance.
  17. Mix Thoroughly and serve.

Pro Tips

    • Be sure to taste and season as you cook. This is the best way to ensure that you wind up with a great meal.
    • Heavily salt your pasta water not only will this speed up boiling, but it will add great flavour to your pasta and sauce.
    • Be mindful of your portion sizes This meal can get heavy quickly and can put a damper on the rest of the evening if you wind up in a food coma.
    • Note from Mike: This meal is insanely good. Be careful, it’s easy to just keep eating!!!!


Associate Managing Media Editor

Mike is a web designer, writer, and videographer who has lived and experienced stories from all over Western Canada. He is on his third journey through VIU pursuing his degree in Digital Media Studies. In his non-VIU life, Mike spends his time hanging out with his wife and kids, exploring Vancouver Island, and learning how to be a better global citizen.

"Cook along with Wall of Chefs Champion Kenna Deo making an upscale Fettuccini Alfredo with fresh focaccia bread."
""You can do whatever you want with it! If you like mushrooms, add mushrooms. If you like bacon, add bacon. If shrimp isn't on sale, go with something that is!" - Kenna Deo"

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