What is Taste?

Taste (formerly Taste of Elegance) is a professional chef competition hosted by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) to celebrate pork and highlight Iowa’s best pork chef in Iowa fine dining. Pig farmers work hard to produce safe, wholesome, and affordable pork for all consumers to enjoy, and we know that chefs work equally hard to create superior entrées that keep their customers coming back. It takes both industries working together to better serve consumers, and we want to celebrate with Iowa’s top chefs!

  • The 35th-annual Iowa Taste competition is planned for Jan. 24, 2022, at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa
  • Chef Par Excellence wins a $1,000 cash prize
  • Plaque and monetary awards for top three Chefs, People’s Choice, and Media’s Choice
  • Evening reception to celebrate the dishes, present awards and select People’s Choice and Media’s Choice
    • Reception includes Iowa dignitaries, pork industry professionals, pork-loving consumers, and media
  • IPPA will gladly accommodate a one-night, one-room stay at the Hilton Downtown Des Moines
  • Limit of 12 chefs for the competition


  • Commitment forms due back to IPPA by Dec. 17, 2021 (see form below)
  • Recipes, biographies, and headshots due to IPPA by Jan. 7, 2022

2022 Contest and Reception Rules and Guidelines


  1. The contest is Jan. 24, 2022, at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Chefs may arrive anytime between noon and 2:30 p.m. ALL chefs, regardless of judging time, must be checked in by 2:30 p.m.
  2. Taste is an individual chef competition for professional chefs. Chefs may be sponsored by their restaurant or workplace establishment and promote it at the event, but they are competing as an individual.
  3. Signed Commitment Forms to compete are due Dec. 17, 2021!
  4. Once a chef has won the title of Chef Par Excellence, they are ineligible to compete the following year in any Taste competition. A different chef from the same restaurant/establishment may compete.
  5. A chef may only compete in one Taste competition per year.
  6. The competition will be limited to 12 chefs.

    Fresh Ground Pork
  7. Each contestant will prepare an original main entrée utilizing and elevating ground pork. The judging plate must include at least 4 oz. of ground pork as the main ingredient and must start with fresh ground pork (not sausage). Other pork cuts or proteins may be used in addition to complement the dish and add flavor. Pork can take on almost any flavor profile, and pork product leaves that wide open. Enjoy the versatility pork provides, and bring the flavors!
  8. Each contestant is responsible for furnishing all recipe ingredients, cooking utensils, and chafing dishes, along with three plates for presentation to the judges and one plate for presentation at the tasting reception that evening. Each competing chef will receive a $200 stipend to offset their pork costs after completing the competition.
  9. It is encouraged that the pork entrée submitted for competition also be featured on the chef’s menu in his/her establishment. It could be a limited-time offer. We are looking for a consumer-friendly and menu-worthy entrée!
  10. Registered contestants must submit recipes to the Iowa Pork Producers Association no later than Jan. 7, 2022. The recipe will not be published, but will be evaluated in the judging room. Recipes must be emailed in a Microsoft Word document so the format can be edited for the judging binders. Your recipe will not be altered. You must follow the recipe you submitted during the contest—no changes will be permitted after submission. Measurements are not necessary in your submission. Step-by-step preparation methods and all ingredients are required.
  11. A headshot or photograph of yourself and biography must also be submitted by Jan. 7, 2022.
  12. Contestants will be utilizing a kitchen at the Iowa Events Center to prepare their judging plates and samples. Judging will take place near the kitchen, and the reception will take place in the Iowa Events Center Rooms 316–320. Chefs will be assigned and responsible for hot holding cabinets to transport their samples to the reception area. Kitchen work spaces must be cleaned and left the way you found them before leaving for the reception.
  13. Contestants will have access to a stove, oven, steamer, flat-top grill, fryer, and walk-in cooler. For kitchen questions, contact Ali Brackett with the Iowa Events Center at 515.564.8249 or ali.brackett@spectraXP.com.
  14. Contestants may have one helper in the kitchen and up to four helpers during the tasting reception.
  15. Contestants and helpers are required by the Iowa Events Center to wear appropriate chef attire, including chef’s hats or whatever head attire you wear in your own kitchen. The Iowa Events Center has specific rules for using colored cutting boards for raw vs. cooked product. Contestants will follow these rules and sign a participation agreement with the Iowa Events Center before using their kitchen space.
  16. There will be a panel of three judges. Judging will approximately begin at 2:30 p.m. Contestants will be notified of their specific judging time prior to the contest. Contestants must have their plates ready at their designated time. If it is more than three minutes after the designated time, the chef may be disqualified. Chefs will need to prepare four (4) plates total—three for the judges and one for the People’s Choice table display. Chefs must furnish their own dinner plates.
  17. The judges will be evaluating the pork entrée mostly. Side dishes and garnishes will account for 10% of the overall score and should be complementary to the pork entrée. Judging will be done by blind tasting. Judges will be served by IPPA’s Restaurant & Foodservice committee members and will not have contact with contestants until all entrées have been judged.
  18. Judging will be based on the following point system:



Pork Taste


Pork Appearance


Entrée Originality


Sides & Garnishes





  1. The reception will start at 6 p.m. and end by 8:30 p.m.
  2. Awards will be presented at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Chef Par Excellence (1st) $1,000
Superior Chef (2nd) $500
Premier Chef (3rd) $250
People’s Choice $250
Media’s Choice $250

  1. Each contestant will be furnished an 8-by-8 booth, with two 6-by-2 long tables to display promotional items for their restaurant and provide space for serving samples. Booths must be set up by 5:45 p.m. No audio, TV displays, or pop-up tents will be allowed at the reception.
  2. Each contestant must provide a presentation plate to show what their entrée would look like if ordered at their restaurant. All presentation plates will be placed on a display table for People’s Choice voting.
  3. Each chef who competes must provide bite-size (1 oz.) samples of their entrée for at least 300 people and chafing dishes for serving. The Iowa Events Center can provide chafing dishes if requested one week prior to the competition. Small serving plates and forks will be provided at each chef’s reception station. If a chef does not provide samples, he/she will be disqualified from the competition and won’t receive his/her stipend. The People’s Choice and Media’s Choice awards will be voted on based on these samples.

Iowa Wineries and Breweries

Iowa wineries and breweries are invited to showcase their Iowa products at our tasting reception where the competing chefs will be serving samples of their competition dishes. The reception is an invitation-only event. Our VIP guests include leaders and farmers in the pork industry, Iowa’s legislative representatives, food blogger partners, industry partners, and some lucky pork-loving consumers. There are limited spots available, and spots fill up quickly. An effort will be made to pair an Iowa beverage with each pork entrée for this year’s event! IPPA covers the pouring fees and offers free booth space to the first wineries and breweries who contact us.

Please call or email Kelsey Sutter at the Iowa Pork Producers Association with any questions at (800) 372-7675 or ksutter@iowapork.org.