NEW PORT RICHEY — Josee Lanzi might not have been chosen by Paula Deen to promote Kraft cream cheese products, but don't count her out.
Just because the New Port Richey resident didn't walk away a winner Thursday night during a competition's broadcast on TV live from Savannah's historic Lucas Theatre, she's not putting down her oven mitts.
"I wanted to be the next Paula Deen," she said in a telephone interview Friday as she sat outside the Dockside Seafood Restaurant & Steakhouse in Savannah, waiting on an oyster Po' Boy. "I'm not giving up. I'm going to do it."
Chipper and enthusiastic as always, Lanzi, 41, seemed unwavering only 14 hours after her dream of being the next entrée host for Real Women of Philadelphia was shattered when competitor Kirsten Shabaz, of Minneapolis, Minn., with her Savory Garlic Beef and Broccoli Turnovers, was crowned this year's queen. Lanzi was one of four finalists in the entrée portion of the competition, chosen for her Chicken Cordon Blue Rotini recipe. She competed in a cookoff on Tuesday in front of cooking superstar Paula Deen and other judges, but winners weren't announced until the special event.
The competition also included appetizers, side dishes and desserts categories, all of which had to be whipped up using one of Philadelphia's new cooking crèmes as an ingredient. With each recipe they submitted, they had to create videos showing their personalities and cooking flair back in their own kitchens.
The 16 finalists were flown to Savannah for the big events hosted by Deen and were treated like royalty, Lanzi said, dining in fabulous restaurants, indulging in spa treatments and enjoying a trip to Deen's home.
"I sat there and dreamed of what I could have," said Lanzi, who when not cooking works for Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg.
"I think I might want to talk to a couple of local TV shows and see if I can do a cooking and fishing segment," said Lanzi, who with husband Brent, is an avid angler.
After cooking with cream cheese products for the better part of 15 months six days a week, she's going to change up her kitchen routine for bit, but only for a little while.
"I'm going to take a couple of weeks vacation," she said of including cream cheese or cooking cream in every meal.
After that, though, it's back to the recipe drawing board. She has decided to enter the next Philadelphia cookbook competition that's about to kick off.
She won $500 in the competition last year and was included in the Real Women of Philadelphia Cookbook with her Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Lemon Herb Cream Sauce.
In all, Lanzi has created 125 recipes using Philadelphia products.
"They have to be a completely new recipe," she said. "I guess I will only have two weeks off. … I'm going to get a bit more creative."