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Area Chefs Create a Hog Heaven at Taste of Elegance



Chef Jeff LaBeau’s first place dish of apple-smoked pork rib chop, smoked pork butt corn cake and apple-maple-bacon jam with grits.

Laura Michaels/Foodservice News

Spare ribs and pork chops and bacon puree, oh my! The pig was the star January 15 during the Minnesota Pork Board’s 30th annual Taste of Elegance, hosted at the Minneapolis Hilton.

As the kickoff to the Minnesota Pork Congress January 16-17, the Taste of Elegance gives the hog center stage as competing chefs are tasked with creating an original pork dish.

Following up on his third place finish last year, Chef Jeff LaBeau of The Depot Bar & Grill in Faribault impressed the judges to claim first prize with his dish of apple-smoked pork rib chop, smoked pork butt corn cake and apple-maple-bacon jam with grits. Along with his Chef Par Excellence title, LaBeau won $1,500 in prize money and will represent the Minnesota Pork Board at the 2018 National Pork Summit.

The idea for the dish “came to me in a dream,” LaBeau said, and he ran with it.

Taking second and the $1,000 prize was Tim McCarty, executive chef at the Mayo Clinic Foundation House in Rochester, for his “Irish Fest”-themed plate of corned pork cheeks, rasher bacon and potatoes with creamy leek and cabbage. McCarty’s creative table display also won him another $250. Chef John Van House of Grand Casinos earned third place and $750 for his pork shoulder pastrami dish.

Winning the People’s Choice award and a $750 prize was Matt Brown, chef/owner of Estelle’s Eatery in Harmony. His smoked suckling pig tostada won over event attendees in the evening voting.

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