The morning after our dinner at Canoe I was a nervous wreck. I had spent the better part of the last three months dreaming in cream cheese and tonight the four $20,000.00 winners for season 1 of The Real Women of Philadelphia Canada were going to be announced.
Twenty pounds lighter, with an arsenal of original recipes under my belt, I had gone from living my life vicariously through the people on my TV screen to someone on an adventure, living my own story, taking chances and dreaming big.
That, in itself, is the miracle.
I got out of bed, ordered myself some room service (thinking once again how easy it was to get used to this kind of living) and went onto the Real Women of Philadelphia website to see what was
happening in the community, excited because I knew some of my
favourite people from the sight were going to be at the
dinner that night, and that those who couldn't be there were following along from home. On that note, I can't even begin to express what it meant to me that Marlies Coventry from North Vancouver prepared my tenderloin for dinner that night, or that Chantal Cornwall from Northern BC created a video to commemorate the experience. The BC scenery immediately calmed and relaxed me and gave me a moment of pure gratitude that I will never, ever forget.
With all of those lovely women on my mind, I got dressed and set out for a day of wandering and exploring Toronto with my good friend, side dish finalist, Miriam Borys. We shopped, and browsed, stopped at an outdoor patio for a beer and a snack, and then went our separate ways to have our hair done.
On my way back, me and my newly fabulous hair spotted appetizer finalist Angela Amati having a snack with her husband Corey in the hotel restaurant and I stopped to chat. At exactly the same time, Chef Robert Mills, one of our judges from the cook off and the Chef de Cuisine at the Thompson, poked his head out of the kitchen and waved at us.
It was only a moment, but I am a great believer in signs.
There were rumours that the winning dishes were going to be served at dinner that night and I entertained the possibility that Chef Mills had poked his head out to wave because we were on his mind.
Stranger things have happened.
When I got back to the room, I carefully did my hair and makeup and then met Miriam so that we could head to the awards dinner together.
From the moment we stepped into the banquet area it was apparent Kraft had once again pulled out all the stops. The media was there, Entertainment Tonight Canada was there, and as we were treated to a pre-dinner cocktail party, the only thing missing for me was my family.
Some of the contestants had family in the Toronto area and I envied them, that they got to experience this monumental event with the people they loved the most. Mind you, we the Sisterhood of the Cream Cheese, were a tight knit group and there was no time to feel lonely - especially when Cathy Bray, Cindy Jamieson, Marisa Raponi, and Heather Porrill arrived. Beloved friends who I recognized immediately from their videos had come to join the party!
As I look back on that evening the best word I can think of to describe it is: fun. It was fun to be among friends, it was fun to feel like a celebrity, and it was AMAZING to learn that the rumour mill was accurate - the winning dishes: appetizer, side dish, entree, and dessert, were being prepared as the dinner by the chef and staff at Scarpetta.
We were seated 8 per table and an electric hush enveloped the room as the dinner began.
Anna Olson was our host and after a lovely opening speech and video, the first course was wheeled in and sure enough, the winning appetizer was Angela Amati's Sweet and Savoury Tartlets! My mind immediately went back to our chance encounter and the wave we got from the chef.
I had given a lot of thought to what the menu might look like, imagining they would be pairing a side dish that would work well with an entree and surmised the best match to my tenderloin was probably the cauliflower creme brulee from side dish finalist Elise Copps Smith. I was also encouraged when Elise's father pointed out that the dinner service had been set with meat knives and mine was the only dish to require that.
So with my blood pressure probably in hospitalization zone, I nearly fell off my chair when they announced Elise as the side dish winner and me as the winner for the entrees!
My pistachio and couscous stuffed pork tenderloin had just won me $20,0000 dollars!!!!!
The rest of the evening is all just a blur.
I called my husband to share the exciting news and tried to contain myself while the dessert winner, Laurie Pearson, was announced for her deep fried cheesecakes.
At some point, we were asked to come to the podium to make an impromptu speech and Lord only knows what I said, but I have a vague recollection of ebulliently exclaiming that this proved to the world that I could do more than cook pork and beans.
In other words, I had pretty much lost my mind.
When the dinner was over I joined a group of the girls for an after party in Miriam's room, but I was filled with an intuitive feeling that I just couldn't shake: I needed to call my mother.
Doing the math, I knew it was about 8 o'clock in BC. She and her three best friends were having dinner that evening and we had it arranged that my husband would call over to the dinner party with the news. But something was niggling at me that I needed to get on the phone stat.
I said goodnight to all of my friends, appreciating how understanding they were, and when I got back to my hotel room, immediately called over to the dinner party - where my mother thought I had lost!
People, say it with me: Men!
My husband, in all his excitement, called my dad with the news at home, instead of the dinner party and when my mother didn't hear anything she assumed I had lost.
So for the second time that night, someone in my family had a hospitalization worthy spike in their blood pressure!
Shortly afterward, I went to bed.
Stay tuned next week for "My Time on Set," and if you missed any installments, you can catch up HERE.
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