The Iowa Pork Producers Association annually holds Pork Checkoff-funded culinary contests to inspire innovative and exciting ways to menu pork. These events bring together talented chefs from across Iowa for an elegant occasion that highlights pork and its popularity as a menu favorite. The top chefs earn cash and prizes for their creations.
The Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance was held in January, and IPPA held a similar event in early March for culinary students from Iowa colleges and universities. The association also partners each year with the Scott County Pork Producers and Illinois Pork Producers Association to hold the Quad Cities Taste of Elegance in Bettendorf in July.
Here is a summary of the various culinary events sponsored by IPPA:
2020 Iowa Taste of Elegance Results January 20, 2020
First Place (Chef Par Excellence) – Ben Hayes, Peace of Cake Café at Facebook in Altoona
Second Place (Superior Chef) – Ken VanMilligen, St. Kilda Surf & Turf in Des Moines
Third Place (Premier Chef) – Diego Critelli, The River Center in Des Moines
Media’s Choice Award – Diego Critelli, The River Center in Des Moines
People’s Choice Award – Ken VanMilligen, St. Kilda Surf & Turf in Des Moines
2020 IPPA Student Taste of Elegance Results March 9, 2020
1st Place team—Can You Smell What Du-roc is Cooking?—included second-year students Allie Hasley, Mount Vernon, and Brandon Hemesath, Hinckley, Ill., from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. They prepared a smoked French-cut Duroc chop with forbidden rice risotto, charred snap pea salad with kombu vinaigrette, pickled burdock root, trumpet mushrooms and sake-apple pan sauce.
2nd Place team was Gettin’ Piggy With It, another team from Kirkwood, with a pan-seared Duroc chop from Truebridge Foods in Omaha, Neb., served with parsnip puree, grilled focaccia panzanella with charred leek vinaigrette, roasted butternut squash, cherry mostarda (fruit mustard) and pork demi. The team included first-year student Savannah Weldon, Waterloo, and second-year student Bailey Caspers, Lisbon.
3rd Place team was Piggie Smalls, made up of Jordan Foster and Mario Portillo, both second-year DMACC students from Des Moines. Their “Un Savor Del Salvador” dish, inspired by Portillo’s nationality, accompanied the crown roast with plantain in a ring mold with black beans, a spicy crema and curtido (cabbage relish).