Mushroom pasta claims top award

Chef Desens earns gold medal at AgriMissouri Chef contest
Wednesday, December 10, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:34 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced winners of the AgriMissouri Chef Contest on Nov. 23, proclaiming Chef Christopher Desens’ “Morel Mushroom Pasta” the gold medal winner.

Desens, chef at Racquet Club Ladue, entered four recipes in the AgriMissouri Chef Contest in August, hoping to showcase the local products he uses in his dishes every day.

“Ideally, I wanted to help promote Missouri products and do what I could to showcase what Missouri has to offer,” Desens said.

The statewide contest began in August when professional chefs, sous-chefs and lead line cooks submitted recipes containing at least one locally grown or processed ingredient. Four semifinalists were announced in September and prepared their submitted dishes for a panel of judges who evaluated the dishes on presentation, texture and taste.

Deanne Hackman, director of the department’s Agricultural Business Development Division, said a primary focus of the contest was to draw attention to the quality and variety of locally grown products.

“We hope to raises awareness among chefs of the fresh, quality food products Missouri has to offer so they will use them on their menus,” Hackman said.

Desens said that his recipe for Morel Mushroom Pasta has been on the spring menu at the private club for the past three years. He said the recipe is enjoyable because of its simplicity.

“I like to let the flavors speak for themselves,” Desens said.

Winners were announced at the Governor’s Conference on Agriculture in Lake Ozark. Gold-level winner Desens received the AgriMissouri Chef Excellence Award medal and $2,000 for his winning recipe. Silver-level winner chef Andy Ayer of Riddle’s Penultimate Café and Wine Bar in University City took home $1,000 for his recipe, and bronze-level winners executive chef Kirk Warner of King Louie’s in St. Louis and chef DeWayne Schaaf of Celebrations Restaurant and Bar in Cape Girardeau each received $500.

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