dsm Magazine's Virtual Dinner Party Sponsored by Iowa Pork

dsm Magazine’s Virtual Dinner Party Sponsored by Iowa Pork

How can a printed pork ad be more engaging?

When it’s paired with a dinner party. And a video commercial. And shoutouts on social media.

“We wanted to do something different, thinking outside the box,” said Kelsey Sutter, marketing and programs director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).

For the past several years, IPPA has purchased ad space in an issue of dsm Magazine. The Des Moines-based publication celebrates the culture in central Iowa—from fashion to philanthropy, from dining and décor to lifestyle and social issues.

This fall IPPA’s restaurant and foodservice committee wanted to make a bigger splash with the magazine’s readership, including influential thought leaders in the Des Moines area, Sutter said. According to dsm, 79% of readers have household incomes that exceed $200,000 annually; 61% of readers have home values greater than $500,000; and 66% of readers are between 35 and 65 years old.

So IPPA became a presenting sponsor for dsm Magazine’s first-ever virtual dinner party, which coincided with the unveiling of its November issue Oct. 28. The 100 individuals who purchased tickets picked up a copy of the latest magazine and a three-course meal from Bubba, a Des Moines restaurant specializing in Southern comfort food. There, IPPA had a large banner and provided meat thermometers in goodie bags.

A grilled pork chop with apple-sage butter, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables was the featured entree for the dsm dinner party.

The dinner was meant to be eaten at home, as participants watched a virtual event via the online platform Zoom, amid COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings. The featured entrée was a grilled Iowa chop with apple-sage butter, buttermilk-garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted root vegetables. For dessert, bourbon bread pudding was topped generously with bacon.

The Zoom conversation kicked off with Deidre DeJear, dsm contributor, delivering facts about Iowa’s pork industry, as well as a chat with Mike Paustian, IPPA’s president and a pig farmer from Walcott.

“A dear friend of mine calls bacon a spice,” DeJear joked. “We appreciate Iowa pork all day, every day!”

Paustian spent the next few minutes discussing IPPA and thanking food supply chain workers for adapting their processes to keep America fed during the pandemic. He also offered a peek into the life of a pig farmer, breaking down sustainability practices on his sixth-generation family farm.

“Just before I got on with you all tonight, I hopped out of the combine,” Paustian said. “We’re busy trying to get our corn harvested that our pigs will be dining on for the next year.

“We can then use the manure from our pigs as a nice, organic fertilizer for the corn,” he added. “That’s why Iowa has so many pigs—because it’s such a great place to grow the food for them.”

In addition, he revealed a “secret” cooking tip, for those looking to duplicate the pork chop from Bubba.

“When you’re cooking your pork at home, 145 degrees is kind of like the secret weapon,” Paustian said. “Don’t overcook that pork. It’s a lean protein, and you don’t want to dry it out.”

Rob Urzal, a chef at Bubba in Des Moines, shows off the featured grilled Iowa chop entree with IPPA’s Kelsey Sutter.

Other pork talk included Chris Diebel, managing partner at Bubba, discussing bacon-infused spirits for cocktails; food stylist Sammy Mila removing the Bubba meal from the carry-out container and arranging it for visual appeal on a plate; and Rob Urzal, a chef at Bubba, explaining how each course was prepared.

The night ended with a 30-second video commercial promoting Real Pork, a master-brand strategy launched in late August by the National Pork Board. In addition, a message from IPPA will be sent to dsm’s email subscribers later this month.

“We get so much joy out of sharing even a snippet of what our farmers do,” Sutter said, “and helping consumers feel connected to where their food comes from.”