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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.