Chef Michael Althen Wins Wisconsin’s Taste of Elegance

Chef Michael Althen of Elite Catering in Baraboo captured the Chef Par Excellence Award at the 2016 Wisconsin’s Taste of Elegance competition. Chef Althen’s winning entrée, titled “Babe” at First Light, was an elegant sampling of start to the morning faire. It included stuffed roasted center cut pork loin, slow roasted smoky side pork, a soy biscuit with soy sausage gravy, and an apple and bourbon glazed bacon corn fritter. Althen competed against seven other finalists for the $750 Chef Par Excellence award. As Chef Par Excellence, Althen also won a complimentary trip to the 2016 Pork Summit, an educational weekend hosted by the National Pork Board. The Pork Summit will be held at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena, CA.

Earning the Superior Chef award was Chef Nestor Sanchez with the Milwaukee Athletic Club. He prepared a pesto tofu pork tenderloin roulade and will receive $500 as a prize. Chef Rodrigo Juarez, Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, was named Premium Chef. He also received the $250 Best of Soy award sponsored by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board. Chef Rodrigo’s entrée featured pork ossobuco and smoked pork belly complimented with soy-infused mashed potato. Guests attending the Taste of Elegance reception voted Chef Ace Champion’s creole pan-seared pork tenderloin as the winner of the People’s Choice award.

Other finalists in the 2016 contest were: Chef Kurt Wagner, Machine Shed Restaurant, Pewaukee; Chef Jamie Pospeschil, Big Foot Country Club, Fontana; Chef Charlie Stephens, Jacks or Better, Little Chute; and Chef Diane Pedersen, Living Oaks, Iola.

The Taste of Elegance program was created to encourage pork menuing in creative and non-traditional manner. Chefs present their entrées to a panel of three judges who evaluate each dish on its taste, appearance, and originality. Judges for the evening were Chef Jeff Igel, Culinary Arts Manager, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton; Chef Mitchel Weber, 2015 Chef Par Excellence; and Chef Matt Baier, 2014 Chef Par Excellence.

The 2016 Wisconsin’s Taste of Elegance was sponsored by: Pork Checkoff; Johnsonville; Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board; and Wisconsin Pork Association. Copies of the winning recipes are available on the Wisconsin Pork Association’s website,