The first dish Lyndsay Wells ever made was a cherry cheesecake with her grandmother when she was about nine years old.
Now – a husband and 19-year-old son later – she is back to cooking with cream cheese – this time for The Real Women of Philadelphia, a national cooking competition.
Her creamy pistachio and mango chutney pork tenderloin recipe earned her an all-expenses paid trip to Toronto in July to participate in a cook-off hosted by Anna Olson, of Food Network’s Fresh and Sugar and author of six best-selling cookbooks.
Wells is one of 16 finalists heading to Toronto and one of four competing in the entreé category. One winner in each category – appetizer, side dish, entreé and dessert – will take home $20,000 and will host the Real Women of Philadelphia website by submitting their own cooking videos and contributing to an online cookbook.
The video Wells submitted of herself cooking the winning dish can be viewed at www.realwomenofphiladelphia.ca.
“Having the opportunity to kind of be a star in your own kitchen – it’s really fun,” said Wells. “This is giving opportunities to people on so many different levels. To see the confidence that everybody’s gaining by making videos and having fun with it – I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Wells, a public education program coordinator with the Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society, learned to cook from her mother, who made sure her family ate homemade bread and cookies.
Now Wells writes her own food blog and experiments with new recipes in her spare time.
Since she decided to enter the contest two months ago, those new recipes have all had cream cheese in them, but she’s not sick of it yet, she said.
Her new creations include twice-baked baby potatoes stuffed with lobster, truffle oil, cream cheese and gruyere cheese, and a cream cheese phyllo salmon bundle.
She’s also experimenting with light cream cheese to further her weight loss goals and has lost seven pounds over the past two months.
Wells encourages Nanaimoites to check out the contest and submit their own recipes, because not all 16 finalists have been chosen. The contest closes June 5 and until then, two finalists are chosen each week in different categories.
This is the first year for the Canadian contest, sponsored by Kraft Canada Inc. and EQAL, Inc.