A dozen of Iowa’s top chefs will prepare their best pork entrees in hopes of capturing top honors at the 23rd annual Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance competition in Des Moines Jan. 26. The elegant culinary competition is designed to inspire new and innovative ways to menu pork at high-end restaurants.

Each chef’s entree will be judged on taste, originality and presentation by a panel of three food industry professionals. Cash prizes will be awarded to the chefs who are named Chef Par Excellence, Superior Chef and Premier Chef. A People’s Choice Award also is announced at the end of the reception, based on the invited guests’ votes. The winner will compete in the national contest in the spring.

The 2009 contestants are:

1. Chef Kevin Moore, the Cellar Restaurant, Fort Dodge
2. Chef Ephraim Malag, Oak View Restaurant at the Tournament Club of Iowa, Polk City
3. Chef Chad Elliott, Hotel Winneshiek, Decorah
4. Chef Bryce Lutjen, Bourbon Street, Cedar Falls
5. Chef Mark Barber, J. Benjamin’s Restaurant, Des Moines
6. Chef Joe Cross, International Café, Principal Financial Group, Des Moines
7. Chef Tim Laielli, Iowa Machine Shed, Urbandale
8. Chef Haley Silhacek, Ferrari’s Ristorante @ Park Place Event Center, Cedar Falls
9. Chef L.J. Ames, Hotel Patee, Perry
10. Chef Thurman Gleb, Waterfront Grill @ Ameristar Casino, Council Bluffs
11. Chef Kumar Wickramasingha, Sunnybrook Assisted Living, Fort Madison
12. Chef Anthony Lemmo, Café di Scala, Des Moines

The 2009 Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance will be held in the Des Moines Room at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott Hotel beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association Restaurant & Food Service Committee.

Invited guests attending this semi-formal event will be able to enjoy samples of the delicious Iowa pork entrees. To inquire about how to receive an invitation to the Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance, please contact Alison Dreeszen at the Iowa Pork Producers Association at adreeszen@iowapork.org.