Joseph Royer, executive chef at the Saturn Grill in Oklahoma City, won top honors in the 18th annual national Taste of Elegance contest May 7 in San Diego. The competition, sponsored by the National Pork Board, featured 24 chefs, all were winners of state and regional Taste of Elegance contests.

Royer earned Chef Par Excellence honors with his winning entrée of Modern Noodle Bowl with Shoulder, Ribs, & Belly and a check for $5,000.  This is the second Taste of Elegance title for Royer. He won in 2004 for his Confit of Smoked Pork Belly with Asian Spiced Pork Tenderloin entrée.
“The national Taste of Elegance contest brought some of the nation’s best chefs together to share their talent using pork,” says Dianne Bettin, NPB director and a Minnesota producer. “By reaching chefs through pork checkoff programs like this, the goal is to increase pork items on menus.”
In the national contest, competing chefs from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin created original pork entrees that were judged for taste, appearance and originality.  The Taste of Elegance contest was created to encourage chefs to use pork more frequently in creative, non-traditional ways.

Other chefs that received honors at the contest include Johnny Hernandez who earned the Superior Chef Award and $2,000 with his Roasted Pork loin en Salsa Azteca, and Hyang-Mi Frost, who earned the Premium Chef Award and $1,000 with her Duo of Rub Spice Pork Loin and Braised Hocks. The other five finalists in the 2007 National Taste of Elegance contest were: Dave Rensi of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich; Glenn Wheeler of Liberty Tavern in Omaha, Neb.; Patrick Ponsaty of Bernard’o in San Diego, Calif; Paul Nagan of Denver Renaissance Hotel in Denver, Colo. and Tyler Honke of Fusions Private Catering in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Royer also won the Foppiano Award, presented by Susan Foppiano for her preference of the best food and wine pairing.

The 2004 Concannon Vineyard Petite Sirah was presented to Ryan Schnipke of Red Pig Inn in Ottawa, Ohio, by Heath Hoffman for his choice of best food and wine pairing.

New this year was the presentation of the participant plates. Bauscher Inc. presented the plates that were designed for the event.  Bauscher is the No. 1 brand for commercial use china in the world.

Judges for this year’s event included: 

  • Michael Giletto of Cherry Valley Country Club; Skilman, N.J.
  • Klaus Happel of Renaissance Scottsdale; Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Larry London of Big Tomatoes; Green Bay, Wis.
  • Robert Merrifield of The Polo Grill; Tulsa, Okla.
  • Dean Thomas of Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino; Lakeside, Calif.
  • Suzette Gresham-Tognetti of Acquerello; San Francisco

Cosponsors included Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino of Lakeside, Calif., Cargill Meat Solutions of Wichita, Kan., and wines from Cancannon, David Bruce, Earthquake, EOS, Foppiano, Pedroncelli, Rosenblum, Silkwood and Spellbound.

Source: National Pork Board