The Iowa Pork Producers Association Restaurant and Foodservice Committee will hold its 25th annual Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance on Jan. 24 and a long-time committee member is hoping competing chefs will bring some new menu ideas to this year’s contest.

A dozen of Iowa’s top chefs will put their best original pork entrees on the line for the right to be named Chef Par Excellence in this exciting and elegant culinary competition. The goal of the contest is to inspire new and innovative ways to menu pork at the state’s best restaurants.

Nelda Christian of the IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee says she’d like to see the chefs use some different cuts of pork that will appeal to the average consumer.

“We tend to use the same thing sometimes and we’d really like to see new twists on the dishes that are normally served, such as enhancements or rubs when the cuts are marinated and in the finished product,” Christian said.

A panel of three food industry professionals will taste and critique each entrée. Taste, originality and presentation are the judges’ area of focus.

In addition to Chef Par Excellence, the 2nd and 3rd place chefs will receive Superior Chef and Premier Chef honors. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three chefs and the winner will be invited to compete in the national Taste of Elegance contest in the spring. At the conclusion of the event, one of the chefs will receive the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by the invited guests.

The competition is open to any restaurant or chef in the state and Christian says she’d like to see more of the establishments in rural Iowa represented.

“The committee would like to have more higher-end restaurants from rural parts of the state at the Taste of Elegance because there are many good restaurants out there,” she said.

The Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance reception is an invitation-only event, but anyone is welcome to attend. Interested persons can contact IPPA’s Alison Swanson. The event is semi-formal and invited guests can enjoy samples of the various pork entrees, hors d’oeuvres and fine wines from local Iowa wineries.

The 2011 Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance will be held the Downtown Des Moines Marriott Hotel beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The 2011 contestants are:
*Chef Kevin Moore, The Cellar, Fort Dodge, IA
*Chef Mark Barber, Timothy’s Steakhouse, Urbandale, IA
*Chef David Garcia, Dubuque Country Club, Dubuque, IA
*Chef Kris Van Tuyl, Occasions Made Right, Des Moines, IA
*Chef Dominick De Leon, Sunnybrook Assisted Living, Muscatine, IA
*Chef Ephraim Malag, Oak View, Polk City, IA
*Chef Joseph Weisz, The Iowa Stater, Ames, IA
*Chef Matthew Brinkman, Deerfield Retirement Community, Urbandale, IA
*Chef Joe Viviano, Catfish Bend Casino & Hotel, Burlington, IA
*Chef Ben Halperin, Augusta Restaurant, Oxford, IA
*Chef Karen Havenstein, Des Moines Marriott Downtown, Des Moines, IA
*Chef Jeremy Neppl, La Chiesa, Spencer, IA

Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association