Columbia, Mo.,—Chef Branden Bentley with the Aviary Café – Farmer’s Park in Springfield received highest honors during the 2015 Springfield Area Taste of Elegance culinary competition held November 16 at the Ramada Oasis Convention Center in Springfield. Chef Branden’s entrée was titled Mayan Inspired Modern Technique – Cochinita Pibil Pork Belly, Poc Chuc Rub Pork Shoulder, Masa Cake, Corn Puree, Pickled Red onion Pate and Pork Skin Powder. 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 and Stone Hill Winery 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 Kyle Houston with Fire & Ice Restaurant and Bar in Springfield the People’s Choice Award winner for his entrée of Honey & Rye Pork Steak, Crunchy Part of Sweet Potato Casserole, Grilled Shiitakes and Scallion Bulbs and Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce.
Second place in the competition and $500 also went to Chef Kyle. Third place and $250 went to Dennis Clay with the Wyandotte Nation Casino in Wyandotte, Oklahoma for his Ancho Chili and Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin, Smoked Sweet Potatoes, Fried Sprouts with Bacon and Onions and Pineapple Confiture.
“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 Matt Chatfield with Tallgrass Creek Senior Living in Overland Park, Kansas; Julie Fann with Osage Marketing in Springfield, Missouri; and Chef Chadwick Isom with Chef Chadwick LLC in Springfield, Missouri.
This is the 29th 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.