Central Iowa Chefs Pour On Flavor at Winefest's Pork + Pinot Contest

Central Iowa Chefs Pour On Flavor at Winefest’s Pork + Pinot Contest

BBQ Shotgun Shells, prepared by Dominic Iannarelli of Splash Seafood Bar & Grill in Des Moines, won this year’s Pork + Pinot chef competition. The sausage-stuffed manicotti was wrapped with bacon and smoked.

Central Iowa chefs gathered in late October to try to one-up each other with tasty pork and wine pairings.

Pork + Pinot, a Winefest Des Moines event presented by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), gave Iowans the opportunity to sample swine-centric cuisine complemented by a variety of pinot noirs. Nearly 150 attended the outdoor culinary competition and social soiree at Rose Farm, a rural setting in Norwalk, about 30 minutes south of Des Moines.

“We love showcasing pork’s versatility in front of young professionals from the Des Moines metro area,” said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA’s marketing and programs director. “By changing up seasonings and cooking methods, the chefs did a great job of highlighting pork’s endless potential in the kitchen. Plus, October is National Pork Month, and this is a perfect way to help celebrate the year-round work of Iowa’s pig farmers.”

Dominic Iannarelli, executive chef at Splash Seafood Bar & Grill in Des Moines, took home the first-place honors at the event. He was among six professional chefs who worked to create “a pork-focused recipe that best reflects Iowa.” The participants could use pork belly, shoulder, or loin as a main ingredient.

Iannarelli’s winning BBQ Shotgun Shells featured manicotti stuffed with sausage—a combination of pork belly and beef brisket, as well as barbecue sauce, cheese, and spices. The filled pasta tubes were wrapped with bacon and smoked. Iannarelli’s creativity and flavors won over a panel of judges, with one calling it “pork-forward,” and another declaring it the “best complete dish.”

For his top plate, Iannarelli received $500 and a gift package from IPPA.

The judges selected Amara Sama, of Palm’s Caribbean Cuisine in Des Moines, for second place. Sama prepared Smoked Jerk Pork using pork butt and shoulder cuts. He received $150 and an IPPA gift.

The People’s Choice award, selected by Pork + Pinot attendees, went to Chawn Choun of Sarinade Foods, a Cambodian sauce company based in Waukee. He served Open-Face Bahn Mi with pork shoulder. Choun won $150 and an IPPA gift.

Best Pairing went to Brandon Liss, of Aura Restaurant & Lounge in Clive. He earned an IPPA gift for his Pork Belly Mac and Cheese, which was accompanied with a 2020 Cloisonné Pinot Noir that offered dark cherry, cola, and spice flavors.

Other chefs and their dishes were Mariela Maya, Panka in Des Moines, Arroz Chaufa de Cerdo, or a pork-rice dish; and Said Pineda, El Fogon in West Des Moines, El Cochinita Pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish. Both used pork loin for their recipes.

IPPA’s event sponsorship included $500 for each chef to cover the costs of the food that was prepared.