La Crosse Chef Wins Taste of Elegance

A La Crosse chef recently earned the title of Chef Par Excellence at the 2017 Wisconsin Pork Association Taste of Elegance competition. Chef Mitchel Weber of The Restaurant at Charmant Hotel prepared an entrée titled ‘Pigs, Three Different Ones’ that consisted of pork cheek, tete de cochon, and pork liver. Chef Mitchel’s winning entrée earned him a $750 cash prize and an expense-paid trip to the 2017 Pork Summit. The Pork Summit is an educational weekend hosted by the National Pork Board at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in Greystone, California. The exclusive event is for state or regional Taste of Elegance winners from across the U.S. and features demonstrations from renowned chefs, farm to fork education, and an opportunity to work in the world famous teaching kitchens with guest chefs and foodservice trade media.

Earning the Superior Chef award was Chef Kelsey Schoen with The Black Sheep restaurant in Whitewater. Her Pâté Ravioli recipe was accompanied by an edamame sauce that also earned her the Best of Soy award. Chef Nestor Sanchez, with Maki Yaki in Milwaukee, was named Premium Chef for his Spicy Pork Tenderloin.

The crowd favorite was a Sweet Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin prepared by Chef Seth VanderLaan from Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Other finalists in the 2017 Taste of Elegance competition were: Chef Nicholas Conley, Double Cut, Wisconsin Dells; Chef Aaron Fidder, Wisconsin Machine Shed, Grand Chute; Chef Diane Pedersen, Living Oaks, Iola; and Chef Brianna Taylor, Big Foot Country Club, Fontana.

Mitchel Weber, Nestor Sanchez, Kelsey Schoen, and Seth VanderLaan

During the Taste of Elegance Reception, Chef Jeff Igel, culinary arts instructor at Fox Valley Technical College, was also recognized for his numerous efforts to promote pork and his service as a competition judge for over 20 years. For his dedication to the pork industry, Chef Jeff was awarded a complimentary trip to attend the Pork Summit with this year’s winning chef.

The 2017 Wisconsin’s Taste of Elegance was sponsored by: Pork Checkoff, Johnsonville, Resource Engineering Associates, Inc., Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, and Wisconsin Pork Association.

For copies of this year’s winning recipes, visit

The Wisconsin Pork Association’s mission is to insure the future success of the Wisconsin pork industry. WPA represents the interests of the pork industry members with a strong emphasis on social issues, public and government policies, environment, animal welfare and safety.