When last we left the story, our heroine (aka yours truly) made her way to Toronto for the live cook off in The Real Women of Philadelphia Canada online cooking competition!
That first evening when myself, and the 13 other finalists arrived in Toronto, Kraft Foods Canada and Eqal (the production company producing The Real Women of Philadelphia) arranged to have us all meet for dinner at the hotel.
In this brave new online world it's a surprising experience to meet people you virtually already know, and I never fail to be amazed that our sense of people online - who they are and the energy they bring - is always spot on.
People who still live under the illusion that real and lasting friendships cannot be born and carried out online have simply never had the experience - we are energy beings after all, and this is just another way of exchanging electrons.
Dinner that evening was a celebration. Many of the women brought gifts to share with the group consisting of beautiful home made cookies, bath salts, and kitchen tools - all lovingly put together, and though we had a cook off to contend with the next day, I don't recall being nervous. It had stopped being a competition for me long ago and I was in it at this point to have the time of my life.
After dinner we were advised by Eqal's producer to get to bed early and try to get some sleep as we had a big day ahead and an early morning call time - which in this case was 7 am. We were also advised to put together several changes of clothing in a variety of different colours and the next morning, the group of us met outside the hotel feeling like celebrities.
For someone who spent the better part of her childhood lip synching to Sean Cassidy records for legions of imagined adoring fans, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that this was a good feeling indeed.
We climbed into assigned transport vans not really knowing what the day was to bring and arrived about 30 minutes later at the headquarters for KRAFT Foods Canada!
From there we were whisked into a room where we were introduced to a team of executives and food industry professionals who already knew and loved us - remember, we had been posting videos of ourselves and updates about our lives for months. If anyone has ever seen the movie The Truman Show starring Jim Carey, I have to admit, that's a little bit how it felt, and I was glad, nonetheless that my online activity has always mirrored exactly who I am in person.
After being welcomed and given preliminary information about the day (we would be cooking off in KRAFT Kitchens!!) Food Network Host and renowned chef, Anna Olson, entered the room - and to say we were all starstruck would be an understatement.
But that ended soon because Anna Olson is one of the most down to earth, real people anyone could ever meet and soon we were all laughing and joking like old friends. So much so that the production crew shared afterward that they were surprised by how long Anna stayed - apparently they had never experienced a celebrity who was that open and willing to get to know people.
In the meantime, the tension was slowly beginning to build, and though I wasn't nervous about the contest itself, my biggest fear was that I would make a fool of myself in front of Anna and all my peers - or worse, that I would make something in the cook off that everyone hated.
But there was no turning back now...
Stay tuned next week for the cook off!
If you've missed the other installments and want to catch up, they can be found HERE.
For another delicious Philadelphia Cream Cheese inspired recipe, check out my step by step instructions for Creamy Seafood Lasagna! And be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel CHARMED!