Japanese-American fusion top pork dish in student competition

Slices of pork glazed with red wine and miso were served alongside shaved Brussels sprouts and potato mochi.

March 15, 2024

3 Min Read

The classic American meal of meat, potatoes and vegetables was fused with Japanese ingredients to win over judges at this year’s student taste competition, hosted by the Iowa Pork Producers Association earlier this month.

For the annual contest, culinary students were challenged to create their tastiest entrée utilizing boneless pork loin. Eight teams from four Iowa colleges and universities had two hours in the kitchen to prepare their recipes.

“Definitely the goal is to expose students to different types of pork cuts, maybe cuts they didn’t grow up eating, so that they hopefully keep it top of mind as they go into their future careers,” said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA’s marketing and programs director.

Teams consisted of two to four students, and their entrées were judged on taste, appearance, complementing side dishes and design. The event took place at the Iowa Culinary Institute on the Des Moines Area Community College campus in Ankeny.

The first-place team from Iowa State University in Ames was Culinary “Cy”entist, a play on ISU’s Cy the Cardinal mascot. Members included senior Christabel Forney, Ames, Iowa; senior Evelyn Greenbury, Arlington Heights, Illinois.; junior Izabele Jaime, Mason City, Iowa; and senior Julain Sinkler from Queens, New York.

Slices of pork glazed with red wine and miso were served alongside shaved Brussels sprouts seasoned with togarashi (chili pepper), and potato mochi, a potato patty with a crispy shell, chewy center, and sweet and savory sauce.

“The pork was cooked excellent with slight pink presentation,” said judge Tanner Killinger, with Des Moines Embassy Club, referring to recommendations to cook whole-muscle pork cuts to 145 degrees for maximum flavor and juiciness. Killinger won second place, or Superior Chef, during the taste event for professional chefs in Des Moines in January.

Other judges noted “pork tenderness is perfect,” and that the concept was “very creative and new.”

Each member of the winning team was awarded $100 from IPPA. In addition, ISU’s culinary food science program received $750 for scholarships or educational supplies.

Judges selected Spice Girls 2.0, from Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, for second place. The team’s Mexican-themed carnitas torta featured citrus-marinated pork from Gettler Farms in Red Oak, Iowa.

Thinly cut strips of pork were positioned on pan telera (Mexican bread), with toppings like lettuce, tomato and guacamole. Accompanying the sandwich were frijoles puercos, a mixture of pinto beans and chorizo; Spanish rice; and elote salad, also known as grilled Mexican street corn with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and Tahin chili powder.

Second-year students Alayna Chapman, Polo, Missouri.; Evelyn Martinez, Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Yazmyn Sánchez, Omaha, Nebraska; along with first-year student Hailey Wright, Glenwood, Iowa each won $50 from IPPA. Their school received an additional $500.

Third place went to Hog Honchos, made up of Lee DeLoach Jr., Marion, Iowa; Connor Echternacht, Tiffin, Iowa; and Christian Snyder, Burlington, Iowa. All are first-year students attending Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

The trio prepared pan-roasted Duroc pork loin over a pork consommé, a clear soup made with concentrated stock. The complete plate featured cilantro-peanut dumplings, sauteed bok choy, wakame (seaweed) salad, and sake-soy glaze. They received $25 each and $250 for Kirkwood.

“Pork has it all — whether you’re wanting something with rich, deep flavors, or a healthy, lean protein,” Sutter said. “Pork loin is very versatile and a cut that can take on any flavor profile, and that is on full display here when you look at all of the plates.”

Teams from DMACC also participated in this year’s student taste, which is open to any Iowa college or university with a culinary arts program. IPPA provides each school with $500 for food and contest expenses, and reimburses them for mileage.

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