Versatility may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of pork, but it was the word on everyone’s lips at the Mid-Missouri Taste of Elegance banquet at the Holiday Inn Select Exposition Center in Columbia on Monday.
“We want people to understand that pork is versatile and fits in any setting, even a white tablecloth event like this one,” said Don Nikodim, chief executive officer of the Missouri Pork Association.
The Missouri Pork Association and the Central Missouri Food Bank paired up to sponsor the event, which was intended to highlight Missouri chefs and the use of pork and to thank food bank supporters. The association hosts similar events in St. Louis and Kansas City, but this was the first one in Columbia.
More than 20O people showed up to sample pork entrees prepared by seven Columbia area chefs.
Dan and Mary Duckworth, who run the Visions Unlimited Foodbank in Rocky Mountain, found the event to be fun.
“I had a wonderful evening and would like to give a big thanks to all the chefs,” Dan Duckworth said. “I had never tasted pork like we tasted tonight.”
As part of the competition, the chefs first prepared an entree to be judged in a blind taste test by a group of professionals. Judges included Eric Cartwright, executive chef for Campus Dining Facilities at MU; Greg Oliver, executive chef for Brookridge Golf & Country Club, Overland Park, Kan,; and Fred Perry, Publisher of Inside Columbia and radio host on KFRU.
The chefs then prepared the same entree for Taste of Elegance guests to sample. Chef Jerry Brown, from the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center, said that while it was a challenge to make room for seven chefs in one kitchen, he enjoyed the opportunity to put on events like this one.
“These events are good for the community,” Brown said. “It also gives chefs a chance to show (off) their wares.”
The seven chefs included Chef Todd Schaptra with Abigail’s in Rocheport; Chef Jason Mooney with Gran Cru Restaraunt; Chef Jerry Brown; Chef Jeffery A. Guinn with MU Hotel and Restaurant Management; Chef Eric Ford with Courtyard by Marriot; Chef Jared Shafer with Forge and Vine Restaruant; and Chef Matthia Accurso with the University Club.
Prizes were awarded to the top three chefs along with a People’s Choice award decided by the guests.
Accurso placed first, winning $1,000 and an expenses-paid trip to the national contest, which will be held later this year. Brown place second, winning $500 and was also chosen for the People’s Choice award. Mooney placed third, winning $250.
Accurso said this was an exciting accomplishment because he had never won first place in any competition he has entered. His winning dish was Trio of Pork Shoulder.