Columbia, Mo.,— Chef Aaron Gregory with Fire and Ice, Oasis Convention Center in Springfield received highest honors during the Springfield/Branson Taste of Elegance culinary competition held November 17 at the Ramada Oasis Convention Center in Springfield. Chef Aaron prepared Deconstructed Pork Spring Roll with Wasabi and Bacon Infused Crème Fraiche. His winning dish earned the $1,000 top award and the opportunity to attend the national Pork Summit held in St. Helena, California.
The Springfield/Branson Taste of Elegance was hosted by the Missouri Pork Association and the Ozarks Food Harvest. Pork products for the evening were sponsored by Smithfield DURoC Pork. The Ramada Oasis Convention Center and Missouri Wine and Grape Board provided additional support. Thanks to the St. James Winery, Stone Hill Winery and Augusta/Montelle Wineries for providing wine samples during the banquet.
Almost 250 attendees also sampled the dishes during a reception to honor Ozarks Food Harvest donors. Guests voted Chef Aaron the People’s Choice Award winner for his entrée.
Second place in the competition and $500 went to Chef Nathan Frazo with The Aviary Café and Creperie in Springfield for his entrée, Jamaican Jerked Pork Duo. Third place and $250 went to Chef Kyle Houston with Twin Oaks Country Club in Springfield for his Foot in Belly Zamboni, Chorizo Stuffed Polenta, Glazed Baby Carrot, Italian Salsa Verde and Fontina Chicharrone.
“We are proud to sponsor the Taste of Elegance events,” said Don Nikodim, executive vice president of the Missouri Pork Association. “Working with chefs to create new menu items, then promoting those items, helps build demand for pork, while introducing consumers to the product’s great taste.”
Eight chefs prepared dishes for judging on originality, taste, presentation and menu applicability. This year’s judges included: Chef Patrick Miller, with Sweet Chipotle Catering in Jefferson City; Chef Will Norem with the Hallbrook Country Club in Leawood, Kansas; and Suzanne Ryan with Smithfield Farmland in Kansas City, Missouri.
This is the 28th year for national Taste of Elegance events. The National Pork Board sponsored the first event in 1987.
The Missouri Pork Association represents the state’s pork producers in the areas of promotion, research, education and legislation. For more information about this or any other programs of the Missouri Pork Association, go to www.mopork.com, or call the Missouri Pork Association office at (573) 445-8375.