National Taste of Elegance Recap

I had a fantastic time at the twenty-first annual National Taste of Elegance. I meet a lot great chefs, farmers and the people from the Pork Board. I want to add that the folks from the Pork Board put on a great event and are truly a class act.

The winning chef was chosen based on the following judges’ scores: Taste: 50 points, Appearance: 30 points, Originality: 20 points

All the competing chefs

As I expected, the competition was really tough in Baltimore. I’m very happy with my results. I finished in third place and earned the title of Premium Chef and got a bunch of hardware.

Receiving my award for Premium Chef
My Dish:Spiced Slow-Cooked Pork Shank with Gremolata and Black Beluga Lentil Tomato Stew
2nd Place – Superior Chef: Chef Jason Santos
Jason’s Sous Vide Pork Belly, Honeydew, Raspberry Pudding, Lime Sugar, Pink Pepper
1st Pace – Chef Par Excellence: Adam Wells-Morgan
Adam’s Duo of Pork

Free Agency

As of today I’m now a free agent. I’m very excited to put forth energy into the upcoming National Pork Board Taste of Elegance. I’m very proud to be representing the great state of Minnesota.
As well I’m developing a business plan for a new restaurant.
In the mean time, If anyone has a need for a chef let me know.

Award Winning Pork Recipes

As promised here is the link to all 16 recipes from this year’s Taste of Elegance, including mine. The dish can be duplicated, although the technique will take some time.

Here’s the scoop on all the other contestants that placed. I have to hand it to the other competitors because all their dishes were all great plates.

My favorite was “Four Little Pigs”  Chef Tuan Nguyen – Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington. He was docked points by the judges for using shrimp in a pork themed competition which is too bad. The flavors in his dish were spot on.

From MN Pork Board:

RECIPE FEATURING PORK SHANK WINS ANNUAL PORK EVENT
David Vlach, sous chef at Heidi’s Minneapolis, received first place, chef par excellence, at the 2010 Minnesota Pork Board’s Taste of Elegance competition. Judges awarded Vlach first place for his recipe, Spiced Slow-Cooked Pork Shank with Gremolata and Black Beluga Lentil Tomato Stew.

The 22nd annual Minnesota Taste of Elegance competition took place Jan. 19 at the Minneapolis Hilton. The pork competition is hosted by the Minnesota Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff on behalf of Minnesota’s pork producers. The event showcases the versatility of pork, the creativity of chefs and promotes the inclusion of pork on restaurant menus.
Vlach’s pork entrée highlighted slowly braised pork shank seasoned with gingerroot, lemon zest, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and fennel seed. Vlach plated the pork shank with complimentary-seasoned black beluga lentils, which are small beans that resembles beluga caviar after cooking, and a showy original gremolata recipe flavored with chopped raisins, capers, shallots, parsley and mint.
Vlach received $1,500 in prize money and will represent the Minnesota Pork Board at the National Taste of Elegance this spring in Baltimore, Md.

Tom Kavanaugh, co-owner and chef of Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort, East Gull Lake, earned second place, superior chef, and $1,000 in prize money, for his original pork recipe, Uova Con Pancetta E Salsiccia Di Fegato Di Maiale (Bacon and Eggs with Pork Liver). This entrée utilized pork belly, pork shoulder and pork liver.

Serge Devesa, executive chef for Hotel Sofitel, Bloomington, placed third, premium chef, to earn $750 in prize money. Devesa prepared Duo of Maple-Glazed Pork Belly and Sweetbread Roulade Calvados Reduction and Crackling. The plated dish showcased pan-seared pork belly cut into squares and roulade prepared with pork loin and prosciutto.

The People’s Choice Award went to Derek Black, an executive chef for Sodexo at the St. Paul-based company Ecolab. After sampling all the pork entrées, the 500 guests at the evening award’s program selected Black’s deliciously fun recipe, Carnitas with Cones and Lemongrass-Scented Rice and Kimchee, for the People’s Choice Award. Black received $750 for his recipe featuring15 seasonings and pulled pork prepared from pork butt.
Tim Cockram, executive chef and director of food and beverage operations at the Owatonna Country Club in Owatonna received the $250 best table display award.

This year’s judges were Dr. Brian Bergquist, a professor in the hotel, restaurant and tourism management program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout; Stephan Hesse, last year’s Minnesota and National Taste of Elegance winner and executive chef at Kona Grill, Eden Prairie, and Charlie Torgerson, a National Pork Board Celebrated Chef, restaurant consultant and restaurant owner. The judges based their decisions on taste, appearance and originality of the pork dish.

I’m The Pork King!

…well at least for now. I won the 2010 Taste of Elegance Grand Prize.
I am honored to represent Minnesota in the National Competition being held in Baltimore sometime in June.
I’ve had a permanent smile on my face since winning. I was so excited and nervous for my first competition. I’m still a little bit in shock that I won.
I’m trying to get photos from the event. When I do they will posted as well as the link for an interview I did on SwineCast. It was right after I won. I don’t even remember what I said…hopefully I didn’t swear too much.

Taste of Elegance Update

You may not be able to attend the event, unless you are in the Pork Congress (seriously there is one) but you can order a recipe book containing the recipes for all the entrees. Just email your name, address, and telephone number to: mnpork@mnpork.com.

Here’s the link to there site for more info: http://www.mnpork.com/consumers/taste.php

Pork T.O.E.


It’s official I’m entered in one of the hottest events of the year. The Minnesota Taste of Elegance!

The recipe for my entree will be posted soon.

Unfortunately this event is not open to the public.

From Dec. 2009 MN PORK BOARD PRESS RELEASE:

Culinary Competition Shines Spotlight on The Other White Meat

The 22nd annual culinary pork competition, Taste of Elegance, will be Jan. 19 at the Minneapolis Hilton. Chefs from across the state will create their original recipes and compete for the $1,500 grand prize.

Minnesota Taste of Elegance is sponsored by the Minnesota Pork Board, which works on behalf of the state’s pork producers to educate consumers and foodservice on pork’s versatility, affordability, preparation ease and delicious flavor.
Judging for the Minnesota Taste of Elegance takes place all day with the first, second and third place winning chefs, people’s choice selection and best evening table display announced at an evening award’s program. The top chef will also represent Minnesota pork producers at the National Taste of Elegance in June.

Competing chefs and the restaurants they represent are:
  • Thomas Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh Culinary Group and Catering, East Gull Lake
  • John Van House, Murray’s Restaurant, Minneapolis
  • Tim Kovacs, Hilton Minneapolis, Minneapolis
  • David Vlach, Heidi’s Minneapolis, Minneapolis
  • Brian J. Rubenzer, Lettuce Cater, Columbia Heights
  • Rafael Perez, Northfield Golf Club, Northfield
  • Scott Nielsen, Grand Casino Hinckley, Hinckley
  • Derek Black, SODEXO at ECOLAB, St. Paul
  • Benjamin McCallum, Three Sons Signature Cuisine, Minneapolis
  • Serge Devesa, Hotel Sofitel, Bloomington
  • George P. Snyder, McCormick and Schmicks, Minneapolis
  • Tony Beran, The Strip Club Meat and Fish, St. Paul
  • Daniel J. Cleary, Park Tavern, St. Louis Park
  • Clinton J. Yocom, Marriott Hotel, Rochester
  • Tim Cockram, Owatonna Country Club, Owatonna
  • Tuan Nguyen, Minnesota Valley Country Club, Bloomington

Following the Taste of Elegance competition, consumers can request a free booklet that features all 16 pork recipes and view the recipes on line at www.mnpork.com. Additional contributors to the 2010 Taste of Elegance are Hubbard Feeds, Inc., Independent Bankers of Minnesota, Morgan Creek Vineyards, Stock Yards and U.S. Foodservice.