Chef Mitchel Weber with Piggy’s Restaurant and Blues Lounge in La Crosse, captured the Chef Par Excellence award at the 2015 Wisconsin’s Taste of Elegance competition. Chef Weber’s winning entrée, Azzimato Maiale, was a coppa salami wrapped filet of pork accompanied by braised pork cheek agnolotti and a roasted pork demi glace. Weber competed against seven other finalists for the $750 Chef Par Excellence award. In addition, guests attending the Taste of Elegance reception voted Chef Weber the winner of the $250 People’s Choice award.
As Chef Par Excellence, Chef Weber will also be attending the 2015 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.
Coming in at a very close second, Chef AJ Hurst, Vintage Brewing Company in Madison, earned the $500 Superior Chef award. Chef Hurst prepared chili spiced pork roulade served with a rich white bean puree.
Chef Jamie Pospeschil, Big Foot Country Club in Fontana, was named Premium Chef with her taxco pork rancheros entrée. The $250 Best Use of Soy award, sponsored by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, was awarded to Chef Van Luu, Locavore Restaurant, Milwaukee. Chef Luu prepared oolong tea and edamame stuffed porchetta.
Other finalists in the 2015 contest were: Chef Michael Althen, Elite Catering and Bakery, Baraboo; Chef Mario Giuliani, Carnevor-Steakhouse Moderne, Milwaukee; Chef James Jens, Dinners with Class, Cedar Grove; and Chef Keith Stefani, Champions Restaurant at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms, Sheboygan Falls.
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; Don Pleau, Food and Beverage Director, Kalahari Resort and Convention Center, Wisconsin Dells; and David Stidham, Vice-President of Marketing, Culver Franchising System, Inc, Prairie du Sac.
The 2015 Wisconsin’s Taste of Elegance was sponsored by: Pork Checkoff; Johnsonville Sausage; Resource Engineering Associates, Inc; Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board; and Wisconsin Pork Association.
The Taste of Elegance not only provides an elegant occasion to highlight the increasing popularity of pork on America’s menus, but also helps to strengthen chefs’ preference for pork as a flavorful and versatile meat. Since its inception, the national program has evolved into over twenty regional competitions, with more than 4,000 chefs participating. The program is funded with pork producer checkoff funds.
Competitors represent a wide spectrum of dining establishments, from fine dining restaurants to healthcare operations. In fact, participation has increased each year as more and more foodservice professionals use pork to create dishes that consumers enjoy and operators are proud to serve.