Columbia, Mo.,—Chef Kevin Mueller with The Aviary Café in Springfield received highest honors during the Springfield/Branson Taste of Elegance culinary competition held March 12 at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield. Chef Kevin’s entrée was titled Ham & Beans – Cured Pork Tenderloin en Persillade with Cornbread and Buttermilk Puree, Rainbow Butter, Bean Cassoulet, Charred Pickled Corn, Mustard Greens and Sausage Pate Fritters. His winning dish earned the $1,000 top award and the opportunity to attend the national Pork Summit.
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 Oasis Hotel & Convention Center and Missouri Wine and Grape Board provided additional support. Thanks to St. James Winery for providing wine samples during the banquet.
Over 250 attendees sampled the dishes during a reception to honor Ozarks Food Harvest donors. Guests voted Chef Branden Bentley with the Chateau on the Lake in Branson the People’s Choice Award winner for his entrée of Duroc Pork Filet with Trotter Stock Glace, Caramelized Onion and Fontina Tortellini in Sherry Cream, Pea Puree with Buttered Sweet Peas, Pork Skin Gremolata, Crispy Pork Belly and Pork Fat Focaccia Tuile.
Second place in the competition and $500 went to Chef Rick Hoenshell with Oasis Fire & Ice Restaurant in Springfield for his dish titled Cocoa Chili Pork Loin with Chorizo Oaxaca Grits, Agave Lime Gastrique, Roasted Chayote & Onions, Chipotle Crème Fraiche & Cilantro Oil. Third place and $250 went to Chef Branden Bentley.
“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 Frank Dominguez with Smithfield Foods, Chef Jennifer Smith with The Traveling Chef in Springfield, and Chef Abi Velez with Les Bourgeois Vineyards in Rocheport, Missouri.
This is the 31st 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 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.
Note to Media: Photos of the winners and winning entrée’s are available. Please contact Diane Slater at (573) 445-8375.