The Lucky Pig Pub & Grill in Ogden is owned by Craig and Carol Christensen, who also farm and raise hogs near Ogden. The Christensens purchased the restaurant three years ago because it was dying and they believed the town needed a restaurant.
“I’m very, very happy because our restaurant crew works really hard to make a great product and it’s an excellent feeling to have all that hard work pay some dividends and know that people like what we’re doing,” said Craig Christensen after learning of the award. “Obviously, being a pork producer, I’ve traveled the state, the country and the world eating pork dishes, so my bar was set pretty high and I challenged our crew to develop something that was top notch.”
The Lucky Pig’s tenderloin sandwich is hand pounded in-house and double coated in a batter and bread crumb mixture. It provides an ideal meat to bun ratio and features a unique spice for a one-of-a-kind flavor profile.
“Those of us who make up the final panel of judges didn’t know that the owner of the Lucky Pig Pub & Grill also raises pigs on a family farm in Ogden,” said Chef Phil Carey, final judge. “But it’s really no surprise that someone who raises the product also knows how to properly prepare it!”
The Christensens will receive $500, a plaque and statewide publicity for winning IPPA’s 12th annual contest. IPPA’s Restaurant and Foodservice Committee will make the official award presentation at the restaurant on Oct. 15.
Brick Street’s Butler Café in Bondurant came in second and will receive $250 and a plaque. Rounding out the top 6 finalists was TC’s Point After in Dewitt, B&S’s 529 in Carroll, Go Fish Marina Bar & Grill in Princeton and Menlo Café in Menlo. These four restaurants will receive an honorable mention plaque to display in their restaurant.
“Making the top 6 was no easy task,” says Kelsey Sutter with the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “This has been the most competitive competition we’ve seen with nearly 1,900 nominations that came in last spring.”
The best breaded pork tenderloin contest brings a lot of attention to a Midwest favorite, but this year broke records. Ninety-eight tenderloin sandwiches were judged this summer compared to 42 in last year’s contest. The tenderloins were judged on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.
“Ultimately, we’re looking for a sandwich that showcases pork first and is complimented with a flavorful breading,” says Carey. “The pork needs to maintain some thickness and juiciness and many restaurants are figuring that out.”
The contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that support the swine industry by putting pork on their menu. All restaurants, cafes and taverns that serve breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches year round and list them on their daily menu can be nominated for the award. Nominations will be open for 2015 in May at www.iowapork.org.
The Lucky Pig is open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.