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(CLIVE, Iowa) – Iowa’s “Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin” this year is right in the capital city.
Nick’s on Army Post Road on the city’s south side has been judged to have the best tenderloin in the state. It’s the first time in the 14-year history of the Iowa Pork Producers Association’s contest that the winner has been in Des Moines.
“I’m really thrown back. I’ve wanted this award since I opened; I watch the contest every year,” said owner Nick Iaria, a Des Moines native. “I’m really excited; This is great.”
Nick’s is known in the Des Moines Metro area for its tenderloin sandwiches and serves a thousand a week during the year. Eighty percent of Iaria’s annual food sales is the tenderloin, Iaria said.
“We make sure that the process is fresh, the meat is always fresh and never frozen, and we put our soul into the tenderloin. That’s why people come here,” he said.
The former stock broker cuts and machine tenderizes pork loins each morning. Once ordered, he then uses a four-step process where the loins are seasoned, floured, battered and breaded and cooked in a tenderloin-only fryer to maintain the pure pork flavor. Nick’s sells a queen size (6-7 oz.) tenderloin and a king size (12-13 oz.) tenderloin.
“Nick’s is a very nice pork tenderloin. It’s nicely flavored and very crunchy,” said Chef Robert Anderson, one of IPPA’s final judges. “There is no oil flavor and you can taste the pork.”
The IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee is presenting Nick’s with a check for $500, a plaque and a large banner in ceremonies at the restaurant at 11:00 this morning.
The Top Five
The 1901 Chop Haus in Traer had the runner-up tenderloin in this year’s contest and will receive $250 and a plaque. The remaining finalists are Sweet n’ Saucy in Fairfield, Stumpy’s Bar and Grill in Duncombe and Willie’s Sports Bar and Grill in Hampton. These restaurants will receive a plaque to display in their restaurant.
“This year’s contest had many good tenderloins entered,” said IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee member Linda Madison. “Choosing the top five was not easy and deciding the ‘best of the best’ was challenging. Nick’s was chosen because it met our high standards for a breaded tenderloin that the chefs and myself expect of an award winning tenderloin.”
IPPA placed the names of everyone who nominated Nick’s for the award in a drawing for $100 from Iowa Pork. The winner is Carlin Mitchell from Des Moines.
A total of 385 restaurants, cafes and other establishments received 1,982 nominations this year and the top five restaurants with the most nominations from each of the eight IPPA districts were judged this summer on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.
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.