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Pork chefs celebrate versatility of product
Illinois Correspondent

JOILET, Ill. — The 2006 Taste of Elegance competition, sponsored by the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), brought together 12 outstanding Chicago-area chefs at the Renaissance Center in Joliet on Monday, Dec. 4. The contest challenged the chefs to create unique pork entrées in a culinary battle that calls attention to both the quality of pork products supplied by Illinois producers and the culinary versatility of the product.

“The quality of chefs who entered the competition was amazing,” said Abbi Brickey, IPPA director of marketing and education. “It was a night to spotlight these exemplary chefs and their exquisite pork dishes.”

Brickey said the Taste of Elegance is a checkoff-funded event that encourages chefs from “white tablecloth restaurants” to think creatively about developing new pork entrées for their restaurants’ menus. “Foodservice continues to be a growth market for pork. This event helps develop new menu items that will continue to build demand for pork,” Brickey explained.

Timothy Bucci from The Renaissance Center took top prize in the competition with his apple wood-smoked cinnamon espresso glazed pork loin, braised pork belly braciole and confit of pork cheek and chanterelle mushroom ravioli. Brucci received a $2,000 cash award and wine package from Lynfred Winery, as well as an all expense paid trip to the national Taste of Elegance contest in San Diego on May 7, 2007. The chef will compete for a top prize of $5,000 in San Diego.

Matt Southard from Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort took second prize with his molasses-brined rack of pork entrée, and was awarded $1,000 and a wine package.

Taking third place was Michael Shrader from Chicago’s Nine restaurant, with his “three little pigs” entrée. Shrader received $750. Those attending the soirée were able to sample the pork dishes and vote for their favorites.

Kyle Richardson from Chef’s Table Restaurant in Joliet received the most votes from the public and was presented with the People’s Choice Award. Richardson prepared an entrée of pork roulade with Chinese spiced sausage and braised pork belly. Proceeds from the event were donated to Joliet Junior College’s culinary arts scholarship fund.

The competition was sponsored by the college, Cargill Meat Solutions-White Marble Farms and Lynfred Winery, in addition to the IPPA.

For a copy of the featured pork recipes and more information on the Taste of Elegance, contact Brickey at 217-529-3100 or via e-mail at

This farm news was published in the Jan. 3, 2007 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.