(Clive, Iowa), July 17, 2018 – An Asian-spiced pork belly that had pops of sweet, spicy and salty flavors won the title of Chef Par Excellence for Davenport Country Club Executive Chef Aaron McMahon at the 16th annual Quad Cities Taste of Elegance competition held at the Isle Casino Hotel in Bettendorf, Iowa on July 16. McMahon competed against seven other top chefs from eastern Iowa and western Illinois for the award.
McMahon said “Pork is my favorite protein because you can do a variety of things with it and it can carry many flavors.” He said the flavors in the dish are light and are favored by many people, especially during the summer. Although he doesn’t have the dish on the current menu at the country club, McMahon plans to add it as a summertime feature yet this year.
As winner of the eastern Iowa competition, McMahon won $1,000 and a trip to the 2019 National Pork Summit.
It’s clear McMahon likes to develop pork entrees. This is McMahon’s third win in this competition; winning 1st in 2016 and 3rd in 2015. He also won as a student chef about a decade earlier.
Other winners in the competition were Chef Doug Lear of Bass Street Chop House in Moline, Ill. He prepared a Latin-Inspired Pork Belly Duet that earned him 2nd place (Superior Chef) and $700. Chef Chris Carton of River Center/Adler Theater in Davenport prepared a Traveling Trio of Pork Belly for 3rd (Premier Chef) and $300.
The People’s Choice award went to Chef Paul McDermott of Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon in Iowa City. He received a $250 cash award for preparing Hickory and Apple Wood Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends.
Chef Bradley Scott, who is the culinary program manager at Scott Community College, has been an integral part of organizing the event along with the Iowa and Illinois Pork Producers Associations. Scott invites chefs to participate in the program because “it is an important blend of students, local chefs, the consuming public and local farmers. This program helps encourage the graduating chefs to put pork on their menu.”