Checkoff's National Taste of Elegance Competition

US - Adam Wells-Morgan, executive chef of The Club at Old Hawthorne in Columbia, Missouri, won top honors in the 21st annual National Taste of Elegance™ contest on 14 June in Baltimore, Maryland.
calendar icon 16 June 2010
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The competition, sponsored by the Pork Checkoff, featured 18 chefs, all winners of state and regional Taste of Elegance culinary competitions. Wells-Morgan earned Chef Par Excellence honors and $5,000 with his winning entrée of Duo of Pork: Sumac and Rosemary Scented Pork Loin and Cider Braised Pork Shoulder served with white cheddar grits, crispy carrots and leeks, and apple spice gastrique. He also was presented with the Media Choice Award, an honor given by representatives of foodservice media to the chef with the most creative application of a pork dish.

"The National Taste of Elegance event brought some of the nation's best chefs together to share their talent using pork," said Tim Bierman, a pork producer from Iowa and National Pork Board member. "By reaching chefs through Checkoff programs like this, the goal is to increase the number of pork items on menus."

In the national contest, competing chefs from Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin created original pork entrees that were judged on taste, appearance and originality. The Taste of Elegance competitions were created to highlight chefs' innovative ways of using pork and to encourage chefs to work with pork in creative, non-traditional ways.

Additional top-placing chefs include Jason Santos, who earned the Superior Chef Award and $2,000 with his Sous Vide Pork Belly, Honeydew, Raspberry Pudding, Lime Sugar, Pink Pepper dish and David Vlach, who earned the Premium Chef Award and $1,000 with his Spiced Slow-Cooked Pork Shank with Gremolata and Black Beluga Lentil Tomato Stew.

Competing chefs also had the opportunity to attend an abridged version of Pork 101, a Checkoff-funded short course that focuses on pork quality, consistency and value. New to the Pork 101 program this year was a conversation with pork producers about the industry and pork production. Mr Bierman along with Steve Weaver, a pork producer from California, showed photos from their farm, discussed the production practices of their operation and answered questions about the ethical principles and practices of the pork industry.

"Not only were the chefs able to view a hog carcass being broken down into different cuts, but they also heard the story of pork production firsthand from farmers," said Mr Bierman. "These chefs are the trendsetters of the food industry, and reaching out to them through a seminar like this is part of our overall effort to increase pork demand."

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