Central Island woman wins national cooking competition

Ladysmith resident Lyndsay Wells wins the Real Women of Philadelphia cooking contest.

A little bit of cream cheese and talent in the kitchen has garnered Lyndsay Wells a top spot in a national cooking contest.

The Ladysmith resident, who works in Nanaimo for the Central Vancouver Crisis Society, is one of four contest winners for The Real Women of Philadelphia competition.

“I’m so excited. This has just been amazing,” said Wells. “It’s hard to even put a word on that but it’s an honour.”

The contest challenged entrants to create delicious cream cheese recipes for a chance to win $20,000 and to star in cooking videos and contribute recipes to a cookbook online, www.realwomenofphiladelphia.ca.

Wells was one of 16 finalists, with four competing against each other in four categories – appetizer, side dish, entrée and dessert. Her winning recipe was creamy pistachio and mango chutney pork tenderloin.

The contestants participated in a cook-off hosted by Anna Olson, celebrity chef and host of Food Network’s Fresh Sugar and an author of best-selling cookbooks.

“There are a number of reasons Lyndsay’s dish won. I was personally impressed with her creative use of cream cheese in a savoury dish,” said Olson, in an e-mail. “I liked the contemporary combination of flavours, the mango chutney particularly, and I liked that it also spoke to what the average Canadian home cook would want to make that is delicious, nutritious and cost effective.”

The winners were informed during  a gala dinner at the Scarpetta restaurant in the Thompson Hotel in Toronto, with the winning dishes served.

Wells’ dish was cooked by one of the judges, Robert Wells, who is the chef de cuisine at Scarpetta.

“It was almost surreal, but for a cook to think your dish is being prepared by one of the top cooks in Canada is beyond belief,” said Wells.

Wells said the contest has reinforced her belief having a dream no matter your age.

“Living life with a bit of a dream is so much more fun than living without one, whether it comes true or not,” said Wells.

For the next six months, people can follow Wells and the other contest winners on the Real Women of Philadelphia website and learn cooking tips and tasty recipes.