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Around Town: Pork Winner and Dame It!




Chef Charles Plaetz, executive chef at Fielder’s Choice Tap and Table in Northfield, beat out 13 other chefs to win first place, chef par excellence honors, at the 31st annual Taste of Elegance pork culinary competition with his dish, “Ham” Loaf. For his efforts, he took home $1,500 in prize money. The February 4 event, hosted by the Minnesota Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff, showcases the versatility of pork, the creativity of chefs and promotes the inclusion of pork on restaurant menus. Chef Daniel Cleary of Luzette Catering in Forest Lake took second place, with third place going to executive chef at the University of St. Thomas, Chef Benjamin McCallumChef David Johnivin of Dellwood Country Club won Best Evening Table Display. The dish from Chef Shawn Lowman of Grand View Lodge was selected by the crowd for the People’s Choice Award. 

The first place dish

People’s Choice dish:
Coconut Curried Pork Shank
with Tzatziki Sauce


In an effort to bring more turkey to school menus, Butterball, a vertically integrated turkey processor, has committed to developing foodservice products to meet K-12 specifications. In addition, the company has hired an industry veteran to lead its new national program. Butterball’s K-12 portfolio will include options such as a cooked, seasoned thigh roast and roasted sliced tenderloin medallions, as well as traditional favorites. Many of these offerings are formulated to have lower sodium, plus Child Nutrition labeling and other ingredient attributes suited to K-12. Butterball’s turkeys are raised in America, and the company’s high standards for animal care and well-being have achieved independent verification from the American Humane Association as the first American Humane Certified U.S. turkey brand.

National Program Director for K-12 Schools Jennifer Armstrong came to Butterball Foodservice with a track record of increasing regional and national sales to K-12 schools, colleges and universities, having worked in the foodservice industry for more than 30 years. An active member of the School Nutrition Association and the American Commodity Distribution Association, she understands the complexities of school nutrition programs and the challenges that the people who run them face on a daily basis in their effort to serve healthy, flavorful meals to the nation’s youth. Schools can visit www.butterballfoodservice.com/k12 to learn more about Butterball’s K-12 resources.


Aryzta North America has added a frozen cookie-dough line extension at its bakery in Chaska, Minnesota, which produces Otis Spunkmeyer branded cookies and custom cookies for retail, convenience and foodservice customers. Scheduled to open this month, the new state-of-the-art equipment will add a third line to the bakery’s current two-line footprint, expanding the bakery’s production capacity and throughput by more than 40 percent. Through the line extension, Aryzta also increases its support of the local Chaska community with the addition of 30 new jobs. 


Dames and friends sampled a variety of food and beverages prepared by some of the top women chefs in the Twin Cities at Les Dames d’ Escoffier’s Dame It! last year. The fourth annual event is March 31.

The  Minnesota Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier is aiming a spotlight on Minnesota’s women chefs, food artisans and beverage leaders Sunday, March 31, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Chowgirls at the Solar Arts Building in NE Minneapolis. Now in its fourth year, the “taste-around” gives attendees the opportunity to mingle and chat with the chefs as they sample an array of small plates, wine, cocktail, beer and beverage tastings. In addition to great food and drink, there’s a silent auction, an old-fashioned cake walk with modern desserts and a Wall of Wine, where picking the right cork wins you a bottle of good wine. The money generated by Dame It! goes toward supporting Urban Roots, an East Side St. Paul organization empowering youth through food and ecology, academic scholarships for female students in the culinary, agricultural or food sciences fields and micro-grants, providing support for women food professionals. To purchase tickets, go to MNLesDames.org. 

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