Semi-Silent Sunday: Real Women of Philadelphia Gala

Last Wednesday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a gala celebration at the Thompson Hotel to announce the winners of the Real Women of Philadelphia recipe competition.

Real Women of Philadelphia Gala - Cocktails

I hadn’t entered in the competition (I swore off video posts after the epic hair-pulling experience that was Project Food Blog Challenge #7), but having watched some of the videos submitted by others and lurked around the community forums, I knew I’d be in for a great time… and some great food, obviously. :)

Even so, I honestly wasn’t prepared for the heart-warming spirit of community and collaboration that was displayed all night long. While RWOP might have started as a competition, the gala wasn’t just about the winners – it was about great food, new friendships and a tight-knit community of women who love to cook.

Real Women of Philadelphia Gala - The Speeches

The meal started off with an arugula salad topped with duck prosciutto and mandarin slices, and was then followed by three more courses consisting of the four winners’ Philly-inspired dishes.

Real Women of Philadelphia Gala - Duck Prosciutto Salad

Official host Anna Olson announced each of the winners as their dishes were served.  The appetizer course was a Sweet and Savoury Tarlet by Angela Amati, a small pie shell filled with whipped cream cheese and poached pears, topped off with crisp-friend pancetta and sage. (Sadly, I didn’t manage to get a good shot of the Sweet and Savoury Tartlet before I gobbled mine down… it was just too delicious to resist!)

Next up, the winning main course and side dish.  Elise Copps-Smith won for her Cauliflower Creme Brulee, which combines a creamy cauliflower puree base with a sweet and crunchy breadcrumb brulee topping.  It accompanied Lyndsay Wells’ Creamy Pistachio and Mango Stuffed Pork Chop, a juicy chop filled with a creamy couscous stuffing flavoured with dried cranberries, pistachios and mango chutney.

Real Women of Philadelphia Gala - Main Course & Side Dish

Last came Laurie Pearson’s Deep Fried Cheesecake.  Believe it or not, Laurie is a mother of 10(!) and despite being overwhelmed by her win, still managed to name all ten children without any trouble. (Very impressive, considering my mother couldn’t even keep two names straight most days…)
Creamy and not too sweet, these tortilla-wrapped mini cheesecakes were the perfect ending to our wonderful meal.

Real Women of Philadelphia Gala - Fried Cheesecake

Each winner received a $20,000 grand prize, and also takes over official hosting duties on Real Women of Philadelphia from outgoing host Anna Olson.

Real Women of Philadelphia Gala - The Winners

For the winning recipe videos, full bios of the winners and to experience the amazing RWOP community for yourself, please check out the Real Women of Philadelphia site.


  1. Lyndsay Wells says

    Thank you for writing so beautifully about the evening. It was a truly unforgettable experience!

  2. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite says

    Cheers for taking us through this – I had an invite but obviously am not in the country so am glad to see it here! Looks like a wonderful event and I love that the thing you took away was a sense of community not competition!

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