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Chefs Create a Hog Heaven During Annual Minnesota Pork Competition



With their pork cheeks, pork chops and yes, even pork butts expertly prepared, 14 Minnesota chefs then put on their game faces for the Minnesota Pork Board’s 27th annual Taste of Elegance.

As the kickoff to the Minnesota Pork Congress, the Taste of Elegance puts pigs on the main stage as competing chefs are tasked with creating an original dish. Following up a second place finish last year, Chef Mark Born impressed the judges and later the guests as his smoky-grilled cap steak with a sweet potato hash and pork trio earned him the top title of Chef Par Excellence and the People’s Choice Award. (Recipe on page 23.) Born, owner of Blue Collar BBQ-White Collar Catering, won $2,250 in prize money along with a trip to the Greystone Campus of the Culinary Institute of America in California.

A sous vide petit boneless pork shoulder roast with smoked belly and butt confit earned Mayo Foundation House Executive Chef Tim McCarty second place and $1,000; third place and $750 went to Steve Gustafson, chef at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center for his pork bulgogi. The team from Machine Shed Restaurant in Lake Elmo won for best table display.

Judges for the Taste of Elegance were last year’s winning chef, Peter Christenson, executive chef at Medina Country Club; Steven Shapely, executive chef and instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, Minneapolis; and Nancy Kruse, foodservice industry analyst and founder of The Kruse Company. The judges based their decisions on taste, appearance and originality of the pork dish.  

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