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Pork chops with cherry sauce wins Ohio Pork Congress title
Ohio Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Is there an Iron Chef among pork chefs in Ohio?

Believe it.

Thomas Smith of The Worthington in Worthing took the top prize in the Ohio Pork Producers Council’s Taste of Elegance competition held in Columbus earlier this month.

The Iron Chef, known by most as the battle among culinary specialists on national TV, found its way to the Ohio Pork Congress as Ohio chefs battled one another in concocting the best recipe using pork. The Pork Congress showcases the latest trends and technologies in Ohio’s pork industry. The competition among the six chefs was the lighter side of this two-day event and took place at The Columbus, A Renaissance Hotel.

For his efforts Smith received $1,000 and a trophy thanks to his Cargill’s White Marble Farms pork chops with a dried cherry-marsala sauce. Smith will represent Ohio at the National Taste of Elegance contest in Orlando this spring.

Awards for producers in this swine industry were awarded during the Pork Congress.

The Outstanding Young Pork Producer was presented to Chris Ott of Fulton County for his accomplishments in the production and promotion of pork. Ott became involved in the pork industry when he was in high school. Today he has a 1,000 head full slat, deep pit barn and a 300 head straw barn. Ott has been employed full-time by Archbold Elevator for 15 years, where all of his pigs are contracted.

His responsibilities include overseeing two sow units, nurseries, finishers, scheduling of pig flow, and working with the various groups of people involved in the operation.

The Outstanding Young Pork Producer award recognizes young pork producers who have established themselves as dedicated business people. The award honors pork producers for their outstanding swine production program and leadership in swine and community organizations.

Candidates for the Outstanding Young Pork Producer award must be 25-40 years old and must be members of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. Selection is based on the nominee’s contribution to the pork industry through management and leadership ability.

Mike Bayes of Pickaway County was the recipient of the Pork Industry Excellence Award.

The Pork Industry Excellence Award, sponsored by the BARN and Alpharma Animal Health, is presented to an individual or family that has given unselfishly to the pork industry to help ensure its success. This year’s winner was Mike Bayes of Pickaway County.

“Bayes has been an active member of the Ohio Pork Producers Council and the National Pork Board. He has dedicated much of his time and support to the pork industry over the past 15 years,” said Dick Isler, Ohio Pork Producers Council executive vice president. “Mike has helped make a difference in our industry.”

Bayes has served in numerous leadership roles at the county, state and national level. He served on the Ohio Pork Producers Council Board of Directors and as President of OPPC in 1995 and 1996. Over the years he has also served on many OPPC committees and he has served for six years as Ohio’s first member on the National Pork Board.

Bayes served as a Swine Extension Associate at The Ohio State University from 1996-2002. He is currently assisting with swine nutritional research at the OSU Swine Barn in Columbus. Bayes owns and operates a farrow-to-finish hog operation along with his wife, Kathy, near Orient in northern Pickaway County.

The Pork Industry Excellence Award is given to a pork producer or pork producing family who has made an outstanding contribution to the swine industry. Bayes was selected for his willingness to give time, money and talent to the promotion of pork on a local, state and national level.

The Ohio Pork Producers Council Service Award was given to Virgil Strickler of the Ohio Expo Center for his commitment and contributions to the agriculture and pork industry.

Strickler currently serves as the general manager of the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.

He started as agriculture director of the Ohio State Fair in 1993 and has continued to support the pork industry through Ohio State Fair activities. He provides support for the meat cooler in the swine barn, sow and litter display, pork stands and hog shows.

The Elite County Award, sponsored by Ohio’s Country Journal, was presented to Clinton County for its efforts in promoting pork during the past year.

Each county can participate in the county recognition program and submit a record of their activities within their county. Clinton County did multiple promotions to increase the demand for pork.

The finale of the two-day event included Janelle Seger of Minster being crowned 2006 Ohio Pork Industry Queen.

This farm news was published in the February 22, 2006 issue of Farm World.