Jack Riebel, executive chef at the Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis, received first place, chef par excellence, at the 23rd annual Minnesota Pork Board’s Taste of Elegance culinary competition.

Judges awarded Riebel first place for his recipe, Two Preparations of “Polynesian Pork” Cha Siu Pork Loin, Kalua Pork Taro Cake, Macadamia Nut Kimchee and Star Anise Jus.

The competition, hosted by the Minnesota Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff on behalf of Minnesota’s pork producers, took place Jan. 18 at the Minneapolis Hilton. The event showcases the versatility of pork, the creativity of chefs and promotes the inclusion of pork on restaurant menus.

Riebel’s pork entrée featured seasoned pork shoulder roasted in banana leaves, then shredded and seasoned with barbecue sauce, shitake mushrooms and sweet onions, and pork loin in a red-bean curd, honey, gingerroot, scallions and garlic marinade enclosed in taro cakes. Riebel plated the pork with cabbaged-based kimchee flavored with macadamia nuts and additional seasonings.

Riebel received $1,500 in prize money and will represent the Minnesota Pork Board at a special event at the Culinary Institute of America in Graystone, Calif.

Clinton Yocom, executive chef for the Marriott Hotel, Rochester, earned second place, superior chef, and $1,000 in prize money, for his original pork recipe, Ancho-Coffee Braised Pork Shanks with Caramelized Onion and Pancetta Risotto. This entrée utilized pork shanks seasoned with several flavors including ancho chiles, chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, maple syrup and brewed coffee.

George Snyder, executive chef for McCormick and Schmick’s, Minneapolis, placed third, premium chef, to earn $750 in prize money. Snyder prepared Trio of Pork and Fruit. The plated dish showcased seared and braised pork belly in a fig glaze and pork tenderloin served with a cherry compote and goat cheese mustard sauce.

The People’s Choice Award went to Peter Christenson, executive chef for Woolley’s Restaurant, Bloomington. Guests to the Taste of Elegance evening award’s event selected Christenson’s Cowboy Ribs as their favorite pork entrée from amongst the 16 competition entries. Christenson’s cowboy-themed table display also received creativity honors.

This year’s judges were Dr. Brian Bergquist, a professor in the hotel, restaurant and tourism management program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout; David Vlach, the 2010 Minnesota Taste of Elegance winner and executive chef and owner of Custom Cuisine, a Minneapolis-based catering business; and Ron Bohnert, executive chef at the StoneRidge Golf Club in Stillwater. The judges based their decisions on taste, appearance and originality of the pork dish.

Pork lovers can order a free booklet featuring the chefs’ Taste of Elegance pork recipes by emailing their name and address to mnpork@mnpork.com or by calling (507) 345-8814. The recipes are also posted at www.mnpork.com/consumers/taste.php

Additional participating chefs were:
*Ken Alston, Austin Country Club, Austin
*Ozzy Amelotti, Depot Bar and Grill, Faribault
*Gene Baran, Ramada Plaza, Minneapolis
*Daniel Cleary, Park Tavern, St. Louis Park
*Tom Cockram, Owatonna Country Club, Owatonna
*Virgil Emmert, Oakridge Hotel and Conference Center, Chaska
*Thomas Haugen, United Hospital, St. Paul
*Shaun Holtgreve, Bon Appétit Management Company, Brooklyn Park
*Benjamin McCallum, Three Sons Signature Cuisine, Minneapolis
*Scott Nielsen, Grand Casino, Hinckley
*Rafael Perez , Northfield Golf Club, Northfield
*Sol Rosenthal, Brunswick Zone, Eden Prairie